I started making my own pizza about five years ago, and that was the beginning of the end--of pizzeria-pie delivery, that is. Once I introduced homemade pie, it was the only type my family would eat on a Friday evening (often designated pizza night). Which was a blessing and a curse. The blessings: the homemade version has a thinner crust, we can pick and choose from a multitude of favorite toppings, and it's just yummier. The curse: in order to feed my family of six, plus the two or three or four friends who typically swing by on a Friday night, I need to make three to four pies, which takes at least two hours--and I don't even make my own dough! I buy it fresh from our local food market--Old World--so that saves some time. But I'm committed and now own two pizza steels (I think it's time for at least one more) and one wooden paddle. This variety with sautéed fennel and red onion, topped with a touch of lemon zest, is one of my favorites. Unfortunately, I have no idea where I got the recipe, so I can't give credit to the source. (The left side of the pie shown here is fennel/onion, the right half is mushroom--I'll include that recipe at another time.) Served with salad, it's the perfect Friday night meal!
Serves 2 to 3 (the slices are much smaller than your average pizza-joint slice)
- 1 medium fennel bulb
- 1 medium red onion
- 4 tablespoons. extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for painting crust
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Fresh parmesan cheese
- 1 pizza dough (must be room temperature)
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella
- Few tablespoons medium-grind cornmeal
- Heat oven to 425° with baking steel inside. (The steel takes about 45 minutes to thoroughly heat through.)
- Cut the stalks and fronds off the fennel bulb. (You can use the fronds to garnish pizza.) If the bulb is discolored or tough, discard the outer layer. Set bulb on its flat bottom, top side up, then cut it in half.
- Set the fennel halves cut side down. Cut each half perpendicular to the fibers into 1/4'inch thick slices.
- Heat 2 tbsps. olive oil in pan and saute fennel long and slow until it's carmelized and tender. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Cut red onion in half and slice each half just as you did the fennel. Heat 2 tbsps. olive oil and saute 'til tender. (I use the same pan I used for the fennel.) Turn off and let set.
- Cut mozzarella into very thin slices.
- Spread thin layer of cornmeal on paddle board and leave it until next step is complete.
- Place dough on floured board (or work surface) and push from the center to the outside as you move around in a circle. Keep pushing it until the dough becomes even all around and circular. Then pick up and spin around with your fists in center of dough 'til it becomes the size of your pan and to desired thinness. (We like it thin in our house.) Place dough on cornmeal-covered paddle board.
- Top dough with sliced mozzarella, covering much of the dough.
- Spread fennel evenly over entire pizza, followed by the onions.
- Grate or sprinkle a light coating of parmesan cheese over vegetables.
- Sprinkle lemon zest over pizza.
- Garnish with fennel fronds if you wish.
- With pastry brush, paint oil around edges of crust.
- Carefully slide pizza from paddle onto steel and bake for about 15 minutes. Check to see if it needs a few more minutes. The crust should be browning around the edges.
- Remove pie and let set for a few minutes before slicing.