Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Shiitake, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Pizza

Who doesn't love pizza? While occasionally it's a cheap sausage pizza from the grocery store that will best satisfy my craving, I more often than not like to class it up a bit with some special ingredients when I'm making pizza from scratch. When made at home, pizza can be a healthy and well-balanced meal without sacrificing soul-satisfying flavor. Shiitake mushrooms are the height of savoriness, playing beautifully with fresh spinach and goat cheese until a blanket of ooey-gooey mozzarella on a nutty whole wheat pizza crust. A born-and-bred Wisconsin girl, cheese finds it way into more of my foods than it probably should, and I particularly appreciate the contrast between the tangy pops of creamy goat cheese and browned bits of smooth mozzarella. The wilted spinach keeps the dish feeling fresh and the mushrooms pack a big punch of umami without making the pizza heavy. It's easy to get carried away with pizza toppings, but restraint is what allows each ingredient to really shine in this recipe.

An equally fine option for Meatless Monday or a cozy date night at home, this simple combination of ingredients will not leave you wanting or digging out the number for Papa John's (or preferably Glass Nickel or Roman Candle in the Madison area). Rounded out with a nice side salad (and perhaps a glass of wine?), this meal makes you feel like you're getting away with pigging out on junk food when you're really treating yourself body right, from your taste buds to your soul, a particularly apt choice on Valentine's Day.

Shiitake, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Pizza
serves 3 to 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
4 ounces spinach, washed and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
One 12-inch whole grain pizza crust
4 ounces pizza sauce, homemade or purchased
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Heat olive oil a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add mushrooms and saute, stirring frequently, until slightly golden and softened, about 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until spinach is wilted down, 2 to 3 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside to cool slightly.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees or according to pizza crust directions. Spread pizza sauce evenly over crust, top with mushroom and spinach mixture, sprinkle goat cheese evenly over pizza, topping everything with the shredded mozzarella. Place pizza in oven and bake until cheese is melted and just starting to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Let rest for a couple minutes, then slice into 8 wedges and serve hot.

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