Roasted Vegetable Pizza with Homemade Ricotta

Friday was a day dedicated to cooking–the best kind of day. Thursday night I spent a couple hours reading through some cookbooks and blogs looking for a good stew to compliment the “fall” weather we have been experiencing (may I use this opportunity to remind you that the autumnal equinox is not until the 23rd so it’s still summer, people).

After coming to the decision to make an Indian stew from the Greens cookbook, I went to bed warmed up with thoughts of curry, mustard seeds, and chiles. When I awoke, being my fickle self I decided I’m not quite ready for stews and it had to be pizza. This is an obvious reason why I don’t yet have any tattoos.

The pizza I made isn’t the traditional dough + tomato sauce + cheese and toppings. I tried  a new dough recipe that contains white wine and honey. I usually use this recipe, but I’m not super crazy about it so I figured I should branch out. Plus, only 3 tablespoons of wine for the recipe leaves a lot left for drinkin’. My Drunk Kitchen, anyone? Kiiiiiddddding.

In place of the sauce I chose a pureed roasted vegetable spread made from eggplant, red peppers, garlic, and red onion. In the future I’d probably add crushed red pepper just to give it a little more zing, but it was mighty tasty.

For the cheese, I made fresh ricotta. I had leftover buttermilk from the scones I made recently, so the recipe I chose uses a combination of buttermilk and regular whole milk. That’s what I’m all about here at Eat My Words: resourcefulness. One time I thought of an entire restaurant based off of using the leftovers for one recipe to make another, but I digress…


I topped off the pizza with more slices of roasted red peppers and thought it was complete. After the first bite I knew immediately it needed something: salt. I ran back to the fridge to grab the kalamata olives I just bought that day, chopped some up and sprinkled them on top and voila, it was night and day. In the future I’d probably either add some lemon zest and herbs to the ricotta or red pepper flakes to the spread to give it a little more oomph, but I’m still pretty happy with how it turned out. Try it for yourself and share what changes you made!

Pizza Dough
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Yield: One medium, thin-crust pizza.

9 tablespoons warm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more water)
3 tablespoons white wine
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/4 cups flour

Whisk wine, water and yeast in a medium bowl until yeast has dissolved. Add honey, salt and olive oil and stir. Add flour and no matter how dry it looks, work it with a spoon and your fingers until it comes together as a dough. Add more water one tablespoon at a time if needed.

Sprinkle some flour on the counter and knead the dough for a minute or two.

Put the dough in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise for an hour or up to two, until it is doubled.

Roasted Vegetable Spread
Recipe tweeked from Ina Garten

1 medium eggplant
2 red bell peppers, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with whole garlic cloves (skins removed), olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking.

Cool slightly.

Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste, and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. Taste for salt and pepper.

Homemade Ricotta
Adapted from Michael Chiarello

Makes about 1 cup. Can be doubled/tripled/quadrupled

1 quart whole milk
1 cup buttermilk

Line a wide sieve or colander with cheesecloth, folded so that it is at least 4 layers thick. Place in sink.

Pour milk and buttermilk into a heavy-bottomed pot. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently; scrape bottom of pot occasionally to prevent scorching. As milk heats, curds will begin to rise and clump on surface. Once mixture is steaming hot, stop stirring.

When mixture reaches 175 to 180 degrees on a candy thermometer, curds and whey will separate. (Whey will look like cloudy gray water underneath a mass of thick white curds.) Immediately turn off heat and gently ladle curds into sieve.

When all curds are in sieve and dripping has slowed (about 5 minutes), gently gather edges of cloth and twist to bring curds together; do not squeeze. Let drain 15 minutes more. Discard the whey.

Untie cloth and pack ricotta into airtight containers. Refrigerate and use within one week.

Roasted Red Peppers

Place whole peppers on bottom rack of 400 degree oven. You can also use a broiler.

With tongs, turn peppers every 3-5 minutes. It’s ok if the skin is burnt as long as the meat of the vegetable  is not scorched as well.

Once peppers have been turned on all sides, take them out of the oven and place immediately into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes. The steam from the peppers will loosen the skin.

Once they are cool enough to touch, peel the skins off by hand and remove the tops and seeds of the peppers. Slice up in long strips and enjoy!


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