Homemade petite pizzas topped with wild arugula and creamy Casciotta d'Urbino - it's the perfect activity-turned-snack for an afternoon hibernating from the dreary winter. Taken from Chester Hastings' The Cheesemonger's Kitchen, this recipe is just one of 90 recipes - from savory to sweet, tarts to entrees - that will reinvent your appreciation for all different types of cheese.
Pizzette with Arugula/Rocket Pesto and Casciotta d'Urbino
makes 12 pizzettes
For the dough:
1-1/2 cups lukewarm water
1/4 oz. active dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour/plain flour
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
For the pesto:
3 cups (packed) wild arugula/rocket leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the pizzette:
2 cups toy box or cherry tomatoes, halved
18 oz. Casciotta d'Urbino or fresh pecorino cheese, sliced 1/16-inch thick
Crushed red chilies
To prepare the dough: Place the water in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on the surface of the water, along with the salt and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes to dissolve and then add half the flour. Stir to form a very wet and sticky starter dough. Place a kitchen towel over the bowl and let dough stand at room temperature for 2 hours.
When the dough has rested and risen about by about a third, add the remaining flour along with 3 tbsp of the olive oil. Stir to combine and then turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it is sticky but has a spring to the touch. Divide the dough into twelve balls and place them next to each other on a baking sheet/tray greased with 1 tbsp of the oil. Rub the dough balls with the remaining olive oil. Cover and let rest for another hour.
To prepare the pesto: Place arugula/rocket and the Pecorino Romano cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Puree, adding the olive oil in a steady stream until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
To assemble the pizzette: Preheat the oven to 500ºF. Remove all racks and place a pizza stone or inverted 16-by-12-inch baking sheet/tray on the oven floor.
Working with one ball at a time, turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and, using your fingertips and palms of your hands, gently stretch each ball out into a circle 6" in diameter.
Scatter a small amount of coarse cornmeal onto a pizza peel or baking sheet/tray with no sides before placing a dough round on it. Spread 1 tbsp of the pesto on the dough and top with 2 oz. of the tomatoes and 1-1/2 oz. of the Casciotta d'Urbino cheese. Add a pinch of red chilies. Open the oven door and shake the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone or baking sheet/tray.
Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the bottom of the pizza is crisp and golden. Remove with a pizza peel or inverted spatula, taking care not to get burned. Proceed with the remaining dough and ingredients. Serve immediately.
White wine pairing: Orvieto
The Cheesemonger's Kitchen by Chester Hastings. Photography by Joseph De Leo. Chronicle, $35.