Friday, February 13, 2009

Garlic & Basil Pizza

There are some absolutely exquisite flavor combinations: lobster and drawn butter. Milk and cookies. Spaghetti and meatballs. Bratwurst and beer. Baby seal and anything.
But I'm not sure if there is anything as good as roasted garlic and basil on a pizza. As I have quoted my hero T.E.L. above, it is an almost divine combination. (That's not T.E. Lawrence, by the way. A couple people have asked me that.)
I was in the mood for pizza but I wanted to watch the UCLA basketball game. And I won't ever get pizza delivered unless there is a very good reason. (The only reasons that come to mind are if I've had too much to drink or am too sick to go pick up the pizza.) I had a package of pizza dough in the fridge, though. I never used to like making pizza in the oven with fresh dough because it always cooked too unevenly. Even years ago when I had a pizza stone, it never seemed to work.
But a few weeks ago I got an email about an after-Christmas (er, "after-holiday") sale at Macy's. A pizza-cooking pan was marked down from $30 to less than $10. It looked good so I bought it. It is one of the best kitchen gadgets I have ever owned. The dough gets cooked on the bottom but not burnt. I have made two or three pizzas on the pan and they have been great.
I felt like making my standard roasted garlic and basil pizza. I tossed several cloves of garlic with some olive oil (more specifically, the garlic oil that was part of the set my parents gave me for Christmas, which made the whole house smell like roasted garlic - which is not a bad thing) and roasted them in a pan over low heat for about 15 minutes. I rolled out the pizza dough and let it sit on the pan for a few minutes and covered it with pizza sauce, the garlic, some tiny pieces of a sharp New Zealand cheddar, and slices of mozzarella cheese.
The mozzarella I had was from Trader Joe's and was pre-sliced. On the package were the words "Individually sliced for convenience." You know, so you don't have to go through the anguish of slicing a mozzarella log. Christ, we're lazy. (Years ago I was taking a cooking class at a bakery/cafe and the instructor was showing us how to toast spices for a pumpkin pie. She threw a bunch of spices in a dry frying pan and cooked them over a flame for about 30 seconds. A woman immediately asked if she could save time by purchasing pre-toasted spices.)
After cooking the pizza in the oven for about 15 minutes I added lots of very fresh basil. There is nothing better than fresh basil. Basil always smells good, even the dried flakes I've had in a plastic container in my cupboard for 5 years. But fresh basil has that anise scent and peppery, sweet flavor.
This was the best homemade pizza I have ever made.


SuperLarge said...

Your friend T.E.L is very wise. I bet she's really pretty too. And witty.

JustinM said...

She's ok.

Anonymous said...

I think Chickenfingers is right.