Please tell me you still have room for heirloom tomatoes. I know it’s best to eat fruits and vegetables in simple, less-cooked preparations not only because the nutrients are more intense, but because it helps me build up a preferred taste for nature’s foods instead of that of gooey chocolate chip cookies. Not much can compare with sliced tomatoes at the peak of the season and dressed with splashes of olive oil and balsamic, coarse sea salt, a grind of pepper, and fragrant basil leaves. Delicious, fast, fresh.
Beyond the basics, beyond our boredom, and beyond the uninitated palates let’s say those of the young ones, we find a few concoctions that take our foods to new levels. This week, we’ve shared our heirloom tomatoes with the soup family and with our cocktail friends. Today, it’s an American family dinner essential that gets the good graces of these richly colored and varied tasting tomatoes, and one that finally pleases my kids.
It seems of late, I have disappointed them (of late). They often rush into the kitchen wrenched with hunger after a long school day and smelling the steamy aromas they ask, with the anticipation of a cat in a fish market, “what’s for dinner, mom?” And with the same anticipation, I announce “I’m making roasted halibut with brown butter green beans,” and they slump into a heap of let down and I slump into a heap of thankless job. If only she’d work more outside the home, we might be eating SpaghettiOs, they think and then rush out of the kitchen just as fast as they approached looking for the help wanted ads.Today, I could announce that we were having pizza but there was a caveat, there’s always a caveat, and I had to add “remember, not from Domino’s!” Slump.
I bet you’re like me that when you hear the word homemade, you think you’ll be laboring hours in kitchen with a butter churn, a ravioli maker, a milking cow. This homemade creation is different because it relies on Whole Foods for the hard part – the crust. My complaint with most ready-made pizza crusts is what they’re ready-made with – bleached this, refined that, and preservative the other, but I found whole wheat tandoori naan (Indian flat bread) at my WF mecca. Please note, I wasn’t going to the store looking precisely for whole wheat tandoori naan – who would? But, it was there waiting to be topped. My pizza creations were then inspired by the heirloom tomatoes and the ingredients I had on-hand and I was able to turn out these bad boys.
Homemade Pizzas with Heirloom Tomatoes (how-tos):
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Preheat oven to 400° or your best pizza setting.
2 mild Italian sausage links – sausage removed from casings
1 shallot – carmelized by sauteing in a dab butter
sliced mushrooms lightly sauteed
sliced heirloom tomatoes
shredded mozzarella cheese
Remove sausage from casings and cook in heavy bottom pan with a spritz of cooking spray.Brown until almost all the pink is gone. Drain on a paper towel.
Fresh basil leaves
Sliced heirloom tomatoes
Assemble and drizzle olive oil over and bake 10 minutes.*
Assemble and bake for 10 minutes.*This one is a winner especially for the kids.
Cook’s Options: endless combinations.
Cook’s Tips: Carmelize shallots ahead of time. They keep well and can be added to so many foods from omelettes to vegetables. Lightly saute vegetables before baking on the pizzas to seal in moisture.
*ovens vary so please adjust for your oven and preferred methods of baking pizza. I use the pizza setting on my dream toaster oven that is only second to my Shun chef’s knife as most favorite kitchen tool.