Arugula Pesto, Smoked Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza

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Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! I hope your presents have been bought and wrapped, your menus planned and prepped, and that everyone can have a relaxing and wonderful holiday. We are just chilling out tomorrow, just the two of us. Tonight we are treating ourselves to a nice dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

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I must admit that it feels strange and somehow a little bit wrong to have a nice, relaxing Christmas with all the recent devastation that has gone on around New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. I still feel such sadness for every person out there who has lost so much, so suddenly and unexpectedly. But I know that I have much to be thankful for, and I do fully recognize that. A fellow food blogger, Elizabeth of Diplomatic Kitchen has written a most beautiful post about finding joy and comfort in darker times. Check it out, you can read some uplifting, kind words AND get her recipe for Chocolate Snowballs! It was what I needed to read today.

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So I made this pizza last night. It’s festive, easy and delicious. The colors are seasonal and Christmas-y. It feels appropriate to share it today, a reminder that it’s Christmas Eve and hopefully a fun and special day for everyone. I know that I always loved Christmas Eve as much as Christmas Day. It’s always special in its own right.

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Try to find smoked mozzarella, sometimes labeled Scamorza. Regular mozzarella would work, but the flavor really pops with the smoked cheese. Another tip: make sure your pizza dough is close to room temperature before rolling it out. If it’s cold, it will just snap back into place and frustrate you to no end. So get it out of the fridge ideally one hour before you need it, but even thirty minutes will help tremendously. And the final tip: I always parbake my pizza crust. I’ve found that’s the secret to avoiding soggy crust in the center of the pie. This way, you get that brick oven pizza taste and texture with your regular old oven.

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Source: adapted from Weeknights with Giada, by Giada de Laurentiis

Ingredients:
Flour or cornmeal, for dusting
½ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
2 garlic cloves, crushed or sliced
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
8 oz. shredded smoked mozzarella cheese
1 packed cup baby arugula
1 pound pizza dough, homemade or store-bought
2 plum tomatoes, sliced ½-inch thick

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 475 F and place a rack in the center. Grease a round pizza pan.
In a food processor, blend the ricotta, garlic salt, and pepper until smooth. Add the smoked mozzarella and arugula. Pulse until just combined but still a little chunky.
Sprinkle flour or cornmeal on a work surface, then roll out the dough in a circle until it is ¼-inch thick. Transfer the dough to the pizza pan. Place in the oven and bake for 8 minutes.
While that is working, spread a double layer of paper towels on a plate. Place the tomato slices on the paper towel, and then top with another double layer of paper towels. Press gently to extract as much liquid as possible. Leave there until time to use them.
Remove the crust from the oven and spread the ricotta mixture on top, leaving about a 1-inch border. Arrange the tomato slices on top.
Bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the crust is golden but not burned. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes to let it set up. Then slice into wedges and serve hot.

3 responses to “Arugula Pesto, Smoked Mozzarella and Tomato Pizza

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