Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there on their special day! My father has been gone for 30 years now, and I think he would have gotten an awfully big kick out of this blog. Whenever I’d have a friend stay for dinner, he’d offer them seconds—and, even if they refused, he’d cajole them into eating more. He was the kind of guy who’d give you the shirt off his back, not to mention the food off his plate. So to all of you whose dads are still around, give them an extra big hug and kiss for those of us who miss ours.
Now on to the other special dad in my life… Roger requested homemade pizza for Father’s Day and said he was open to suggestions as to what kind. I offered to try to make him a Swedish lutefisk pizza, but he turned that down. He said that lutefisk confirms his theory of why the Vikings went out on raids—they left to find good food!
After a little brainstorming, we decided to try a version of a Popeye pizza, topped with spinach and ricotta. Then we decided to throw on some fresh tomatoes as well. Garlic was a given since we’re both fans. Sprinkling with extra Romano cheese is standard operating practice for me since I love it so much. As for the final pizza cheese topping, I don’t care for straight mozzarella, it’s too chewy and gummy for me. I much prefer the Italian blend cheeses that Sargento and Kraft sell. It’s a blend of Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, Fontina, Romano and Asiago cheeses. Makes for a very yummy pizza topping!
It was the first time we had tried this combination, and it was a big hit and a definite keeper. I think the Vikings would have enjoyed it.
Spinach and Ricotta Pizza with Plum Tomatoes
For Dough (makes enough dough for two 12” round pizzas)
- 1 pkg. yeast
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 tbl. vegetable oil
- Approx. 4 cups flour
Note: I got this dough recipe over 30 years ago from my Uncle Matty. Before retiring, he worked for Continental Baking which produces Wonder Bread, Hostess Cupcakes, and Twinkies, among others, for over 40 years as a dough specialist. If anyone in the family has a question on any kind of dough, Uncle Matty’s the guy we call!
For Pizza Topping (enough topping to cover two 12” round pizzas)
- 2 tbl. olive oil for brushing on tops of pizza dough
- 1 cup plus 8 tbl. freshly grated Romano cheese, divided
- 4 cups baby spinach, chopped
- 4 tsp. garlic, minced
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 6 large plum tomatoes, sliced
- 3 to 4 cups shredded Italian blend cheese (sold in pkg. of 4 or 6 varieties of cheese)
For Dough: Put yeast, sugar, and lukewarm water in a large bowl. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so to be sure that it activates. You will see foam on top of the liquid. Add the salt, milk, oil and enough flour to form the dough. Knead it by hand or by using the dough hook of a Kitchen Aid mixer. After it is smooth and elastic, grease the bowl you used previously, and place the dough back in it. Cover the bowl with a dampened dish towel and let it rise in a draft-free place until it doubles.
When it has doubled, divide dough in two and shape each into a ball. Set aside one ball of dough while you roll the other ball of dough out and size it to fit the 12” round pizza pan which you have sprayed with Pam or brushed with olive oil. I usually fold the rolled out dough in half, place it in the pan, and unfold it. Stretch it to fit if need be.
Brush 1 tbl. of olive oil over the dough. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of Romano cheese over the oiled dough. Spread two cups of chopped baby spinach leaves over the Romano cheese and sprinkle 2 teaspoons of minced garlic over the spinach.
In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup of the ricotta with 4 tbl. (1/4 cup) of Romano cheese. Add 1/8 tsp. of black pepper and mix thoroughly. Drop spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture over the spinach. It is not meant to totally cover the spinach, so just distribute it in an equitable fashion. Next spread tomato slices from 3 of the plum tomatoes over all. Finally, sprinkle 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the Italian blend cheese over the entire pizza. Whether you use 1 1/2 or 2 cups is up to your personal preference.
Place pizza in the oven which you have preheated to 500o. Place on 2nd shelf from the top. Immediately lower temperature to 450o. Bake for approx. 10 to 12 minutes. Check bottom to see if cooked. In my oven, the pizza is perfect at 12 minutes.
While the first pizza is cooking, roll out the second ball of pizza dough, repeat the topping process, and bake when oven is free.
Source: Dough: from Uncle Matty; Topping: a frantastic original