Greg got me a pizza stone for Christmas one year. Before receiving the pizza stone, I always wondered why my pizza crusts would NEVER work out to my liking. Well, the answer is that I had never hadused a pizza stone. What a difference it makes! It helps to cook the pizza evenly, and it helps to extract moisture (from cheese, toppings, etc.) When I had used a baking sheet to cook pizzas, the moisture from cheese would seep into the crust and it would become a soggy mess.
The very first (and second) pizza I made with the stone was a Greek pizza. The pizza starts with a cornmeal crust, then it is spread with an olive oil & roasted garlic sauce, and it is topped with feta cheese, mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, arugula, and spices. It is absolutely amazing!
Recipe for Greek Pizza with a Cornmeal Crust
For the crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
2/3 cup of warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil
Put the warm water in a liquid measuring cup. Add yeast and sugar and let sit for ten minutes until a bit bubbly. Put flour, cornmeal, and kosher salt into a food processor and pulse together. Slowly add in the olive oil. With the food processor running, slowly add in the water/yeast mixture through the feed tube. When it forms into a ball, stop and divide the dough into two even pieces. Wrap one piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for another use. Place the other piece of dough in a bowl coated with olive oil, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a warm moist towel. Put somewhere warm (like on top of the warm oven while the garlic is roasting). Let the dough rise for about an hour.
For the roasted garlic & olive oil sauce
2 large heads of garlic, with much of the skin peeled off
5 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
a pinch of lemon zest (optional)
1/8 tsp. oregano
salt and pepper
a pinch of red pepper flakes
6 sundried tomatoes in oil, chopped small
Line a baking sheet with foil. Pour a couple tablespoons of the olive oil on the foil. Place garlic on top of foil. Place in an oven heated to 375 degrees and cook for 45 minutes. Let the garlic cool slightly, then use your hands to squeeze the garlic out into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well, forming a bit of a paste while doing so. Set aside.
For topping & assembling
3 – 4 ounces of grated mozzarella cheese
5 ounces of crumbled feta cheese
10 – 12 kalamata olives, sliced thin
3 – 4 sun dried tomatoes in oil, sliced small
A handful or two of arugula leaves
A drizzle of olive oil
Crushed Red Pepper flakes
Preheat pizza stone according to manufacturer’s directions (most stones need to be at 500 for thirty minutes).
After the dough has risen, place it on an inverted baking sheet dusted generously with cornmeal. Spread out the dough to make a thinnish crust. Drizzle the dough with the roasted garlic & olive oil sauce, spreading evenly. Then top with most of the mozzarella cheese, add the feta cheese, add the olives and sun dried tomato, add a little more mozzarella, then add the arugula. Drizzle the arugula with a little olive oil and then top the pizza with a sprinkle of dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and black pepper.
Once pizza stone is ready, carefully slide the pizza onto the stone (leave stone in oven). Cook for about 6 – 7 minutes, or until crust is done and cheese is melted. Remove the pizza from the oven, let cool for a minute, slice and serve.
Greg & I enjoy our pizza with a small arugula salad topped with olives, feta, olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, and a touch of balsamic vinegar.
Cornmeal crust recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart