The children in my house–those who are old enough to exercise free will, anyway–have developed a color-based hierarchy to determine the acceptability of vegetables. Orange: yes! Green: probably not! Yellow: yes! Red: no way unless it’s pizza sauce! Or something like that. It’s hard to keep track. I thought this was ridiculous until I stopped and considered my own palate’s prejudices, which usually demand a variety of colors to find a meal delicious.
Digging through the fridge for tonight’s dinner, though, a single-hued meal started to take shape in my mind. Maybe all the white, white snow was getting to me. Cauliflower soup. A a pale celery salad. A garlicky white pizza. I was going to do it. I got right up to the point of piling on pizza toppings when my resolve failed me and I had to saute a pile of chard and spinach (what is a meal without green?!) and then, having already jumped off the white-meal rails, I crumbled a chunk of smoked salmon over the half the pizza as well and breathed a sigh of relief. A little color makes the meal, I say.
First, the creamy, delicate, 5-ingredient (counting water and salt!) Cauliflower Soup: Sweat half a thinly-sliced onion in 3 Tb. olive oil for 15 mins without letting it brown, then add a broken-up head of cauliflower, a tsp. of salt and 1/2 c. water. Cover and cook 15 mins, then uncover, add 4 1/2 c. hot water, more salt to taste, and simmer uncovered 20 mins. Puree and let stand 20 mins. to thicken; add 1/2 c. or more additional water to thin the soup if desired as you reheat it, season to taste with more salt, and garnish each bowl with cracked pepper and/or a swirl of olive oil. The recipe is from Food52, a website that I find myself increasingly enjoying. Is this where all the Gourmet Magazine readers have gone?
While the soup is simmering, make a Spicy Garlic Oil by mixing 2 Tbsp. olive oil with a big minced clove of garlic and 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes.
Then get your pizza crust started. Our go-to recipe is from Annie Summerville’s Fields of Greens and makes way more than you need for one pizza, so halve these amounts if you don’t want a pizza crust to use later in the week (you can also freeze it). Or, hey, use your favorite recipe or a purchased crust. If you’re doing as I did, whisk 1 Tbsp. yeast into 3/4 c. warm water and set aside. In the bowl of your KitchenAid, combine 3/4 c. milk, 1/4 c. olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, and a couple Tbsps. each rye flour and fine cornmeal (if you have either handy) for texture. Stir in your now-foamy yeast mixture then put in the dough hook and incorporate 3 1/2 c. flour (you can use some whole wheat, if you like; we like to use at least part Italian 00 flour for the incredible texture it gives the dough). Anyhoo, let your machine knead it into a nice ball (add more flour if it is too sticky), then oil the bowl, roll your dough ball around in it, and let it rest covered while you get your toppings ready.
Preheat your oven as hot as it goes, and put your pizza stone in if you have one. For the Pizza Bianca you can roll the dough nice and thin because your first layer is cheese rather than sauce, which will protect the dough from getting soggy. So roll or stretch out a nice big thin crust onto a piece of parchment paper, which will make moving it easier later, and layer on shredded mozzarella, chunks of goat cheese, some winter greens sauteed with garlic until fairly dry, and some hot-smoked salmon if you are inclined that way. Then brush the crust of the pizza with some of the spicy garlic oil (this great tip came from a recipe on Epicurious, although I had made a very similar pizza many times before) and scoop most of the rest of it over the pizza. Slide pizza, parchment paper and all, onto a pan or straight onto your pizza stone and bake until the bottom is crisp, about 7-9 minutes if the crust is thin. When it comes out of the oven, brush the crust again with the remaining garlic oil.
Serve the soup and pizza with a crisp salad; ours tonight was celery and blue cheese but I think this meal would also be great with another of my favorite winter salads: just celery, a fennel bulb and/or a sweet pepper, and an apple, all sliced paper thin, with the juice from the apple as the only dressing.
Oh man, this sounds great. A perfect winter meal. I’ve gone soup crazy this month, nothing tastes better when there’s snow on the ground and you want to stay nice and cozy at home.
I’m on a soup tear too! I recently got the book Love Soup–all veggie soups AND a killer butter cake recipe–I love it. I’ll put up some recipes from it soon!