sweet & savory summer pizza

after months of living in europe, it’s surprisingly refreshing to be back in boston.

(my dog agrees.)

i admit, while i was so excited to be back home, the first few weeks have been weird. reverse culture shock is such a bizarre feeling – it’s so strange to be weirded out by everyone around you actually speaking your language, or to be completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices in the supermarket.

but now that we’ve been back for a month, i’m finding myself delighted to be back in boston, exploring the city with fresh eyes. boston isn’t a very big city, but by american standards, it’s an old one, and has a lot of character. and having lived here for almost ten years now, it feels like home in a way that even vermont, where i went to high school and parents live, doesn’t quite anymore. after all, massachusetts is the place where i attended undergrad, lived alone for the first time, got my masters degree, got married…in many ways, it’s where i’ve lived for my entire “adult” life. i doubt that steve and i will live here forever, or even for the next ten years, but boston will always have a soft spot in my heart.

don’t get me wrong, sometimes this city drives me bonkers. but when it’s this gorgeous in april and may, when the farmer’s markets are opening for the season, when all the college students go home and the city feels so much more peaceful – in many ways, this is when boston is at its best.

before i start carrying on about how much i love summer (but how my true love is really autumn), allow me to present this pizza that i’ve been obsessing over for the past week. like always, i’m trying to lose weight in time for wedding season, but endless salads and veggies start to get old. and i really love eating veggies, so you know i’m not messing around with this. but while assembling some of my favorite ingredients for a salad the other day, i couldn’t help but fantasize about these yummy things on top of a thin, crispy pizza crust. tangy goat cheese, peppery arugula, crunchy nuts, some sort of balsamic reduction for moisture…and fresh blueberries. maybe even some sauteed chicken for my ironman-training husband. surely this could work, even be potentially delicious. and after an hour of drooling on myself, i decided to go for it and let the recipe-testing commence.

and boy, am i glad i tried this out. because it is seriously yummy, a great way to use those blueberries that’ll start showing up in your csa boxes, and doesn’t include as much of the fat-and-calorie guilt as other pizzas can. i kept the arugula whole because i like the way it looks, but feel free to give this a rough chop for easier eating.

go ahead and use your favorite pizza dough for this – homemade, store-bought, or even those plain crusts ready for topping and baking (i won’t tell) – but i relied on my old standby, a simple dough from charles van over’s the best bread ever that was introduced to me in baking class last summer. it’s got a fantastic texture, great flavor, and takes mere moments to make. and i know this will be delicious on crispy flatbreads – i’m planning on trying this combination next.

(a little disclaimer – all of the following ingredient amounts are approximate. measuring pizza toppings always seems a little too anal-retentive for me…pizza is such a personal thing. it’s a delightful, homey dish, and everybody has their own preferences. use your own judgment and apply ingredients accordingly – you can’t mess this up. the photos show plainly that we like (love!) goat cheese in this house, so i used it liberally. do what you like and enjoy. in addition, everyone has a method for crust. i don’t have a peel or a very large baking stone, so i like to crank my oven up to 500 degrees, build my pizza on unbaked dough, and put the whole thing in the oven for a few minutes so that i have a thin, crispy crust. the following instructions will give you that result, but feel free to do what you like for your preferred crust.)

sweet & savory summer pizza

1 recipe of your favorite pizza dough
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp honey
2/3 cup arugula
1/3 cup toasted, chopped pecans
1/3 cup blueberries
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese 

preheat oven to 500 degrees. in a small saucepan, combine balsamic vinegar and honey over medium heat. keep a close eye on this and allow to reduce for several minutes until a thick syrup is created. 

on a large, floured cookie sheet, use your fingers to evenly spread room temperature pizza dough until it covers the sheet. use a flat spoon to lightly drizzle balsamic honey reduction onto dough. top with arugula, pecans, blueberries, and goat cheese. drizzle more of the reduction over the top. bake pizza for 12 minutes, or until dough is cooked through and crispy.

delicious with a crisp white wine or a summery pale ale.

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