It’s important to note that Cooking Light has listened to their readers, and debuted a new look and layout beginning with their September 2009 issue. They moved the recipe index to the front (I’ve always wondered why some magazines have that in the back… that’s the first thing I look for!), and there is a photograph included with every single recipe. Several new columns are included in the new format such as Taste Test, a blind taste-testing of products, and Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner In… taking readers to a featured destination and sharing three dishes that are regional favorites, lightening them up and sharing the recipes. Old features such as Staff Favorites, Recipe Makeover and Superfast are still included, just changed up a bit. I find that I’m enjoying the new layout much more than I did the old.
The recipe featured on the first new Cooking Light cover was Herbed Cheese Pizza, which they deem as their All-Time Favorite Herbed Cheese Pizza. It’s described as having a “chewy, tender crust, rich Greek cheese, and subtly spiced tomato sauce.” You have to have some time for making this recipe as the homemade crust needs attention and has several rest & rise times. That being said though, there are some shortcut tips added to my notes below. The sauce is really just canned chopped tomatoes with added sauteed onions, garlic and a bay leaf. The real surprise is in the herbs that are sprinkled on top: equal parts of oregano & cumin with hot paprika and black pepper. The cheese suggested in the recipe is “kasseri,” a Greek cheese. This pizza is served up as individual 6-inch pizzas, and it’s baked on a baking sheet instead of a stone.
Read my notes below to see what I thought of this recipe…
Herbed Cheese Pizza
Yield: Eight 6-inch pizzas
Prep Time: 45 min + standing and rising times
Cook Time: 30 min
9.5 ounces bread flour, divided (about 2 cups)
2 cups warm water (100° to 110°), divided
1 teaspoon sugar
2 packages dry yeast (about 4 1/2 teaspoons)
14.6 ounces all-purpose flour, divided (about 3 1/4 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot paprika
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
10 ounce sliced kasseri cheese
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1. To prepare dough, weigh or lightly spoon bread flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 4.75 ounces (about 1 cup) bread flour, 1 cup warm water, sugar, and yeast in a bowl; let stand for 15 minutes.
2. Weigh or lightly spoon all-purpose flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 13.5 ounces (about 3 cups) all-purpose flour, remaining 4.75 ounces (about 1 cup) bread flour, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; make a well in center. Add yeast mixture, remaining 1 cup warm water, and 2 teaspoons oil to flour mixture; stir well. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.
3. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, for 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; divide dough into 8 equal portions. Cover and let rest 20 minutes.
4. To prepare topping, combine oregano, cumin, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil to pan. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, garlic, bay leaf, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; discard bay leaf.
5. Preheat oven to 450°.
6. Working with 1 dough portion at a time (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), roll each portion into a 6-inch circle on a lightly floured surface; place circle on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining dough portions. Top each crust with 1/4 cup tomato mixture, 1 1/4 ounces cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon oregano mixture. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until crusts are lightly browned. Sprinkle evenly with parsley.
*The recipe makes eight 6-inch pizzas. Since I was only making this for two, I tried freezing the leftover pizza dough and it worked perfectly. After step 3 (after the resting period), I placed the dough into freezer zip bags that had been sprayed with cooking spray on the inside and tossed them in the freezer. When I was ready to make more pizza, I defrosted them in the refrigerator overnight and then took them out of the bag, covering them with a towel and letting them come to room temperature. I continued from there... rolling them out and creating my pizzas. The crust was as good as when I made it the first day.
*I hunted down the kasseri cheese and found it at Whole Foods. Provolone, a mild cheddar or mozzarella are considered acceptable substitutes.
*I didn't have hot paprika in my spice cupboard, so I used regular paprika and then added a pinch of ground cayenne pepper.
*I don't see any reason why you can't add the herbs into the sauce, but I didn't try it that way.Nutritional Information per serving:
Serving size: 1 pizza
Calories per serving: 493
Fat per serving: 13.7g
Saturated Fat per serving: 7.9g
Sodium per serving: ,span class="sodium">917mg
Fiber per serving: 5.1g
Protein per serving: 19.4g
Cholesterol per serving: 38mg
Carbohydrates per serving: 73.9g
Source: Cooking Light
This isn’t your typical pizza. The crust is softer than the usual type, more like a bread than a crispy crust. I also tried baking it on a pizza stone to see if the crust would crisp up a little more, and it was pretty much the same. The cumin-oregano blend gives the pizza a really different flavor that I wouldn’t skip. I’d never had the kasseri cheese, but it really was perfect for pizza- melted wonderfully and gave it a richer flavor than the usual mozzarella. My son didn’t like the looks of what I was putting on the pizza, so I simply made his individual pizza with marinara sauce and mozzarella.
Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?
Absolutely. It wasn’t a recipe that would fit into the category of “quick and easy” but if you’re planning ahead, it’s an excellent recipe for dinner. Make the dough ahead, freeze it and it will be easy to defrost and whip up quickly on weeknights. (I’m not sure why they didn’t mention this in the magazine). If you have picky eaters, the serve-up style of doing these individually makes it easy to personalize each pizza.