While everyone in my neighborhood is getting ready for Cinco de Mayo, I busied myself using up the unused vegetables living in my refrigerator. It’s my customary weekly task so that nothing goes to waste.
Clearing the way for holiday food is also a good reason to clean out the back of the ‘fridge as well as a way to locate those foods that have been playing hide and seek with you. As part of that mission, last night was Refrigerator Pizza!
To make the most of the vegetable flavors and to minimize the need for lots of expensive, fattening cheese, make a thin pizza shell. Choose either an earthy flavored wheat crust or a mixed whole wheat and white flour crust. I find entirely white flour crusts chewy and bread-like, preventing the vegetable flavors to stand out the way I like them, so I don’t recommend it.
If you choose to use a store-bought crust, I recommend the Boboli whole wheat crust because it is thin and has good flavor for a packaged crust.
The simplicity of this pizza is delightful. Make your pizza crust dough and bake the crust ahead of time. Then preheat the oven, and pizza stone if using, to 500° while you prepare the toppings.
The ingredient prep is easy. Clean the vegetables (listed below), then slice the mushrooms, red onion and red pepper into thin strips. Chop the spinach coarsely. Rip the basil leaves. Mince the garlic. Slice the green onions. Set aside.
If your cheese isn’t already grated or crumbled, now is the time to grate it. Set the cheese back into the refrigerator while you gently sauté the vegetables.
For pizza topping, sauté these vegetables in a couple of teaspoons of olive oil while the crust bakes:
8 button mushrooms
One red pepper
¾ of a raw red onion
3 cups of raw spinach
Optional: I found one cup of cooked, shredded chicken that I used on one of the two pizzas I made. You can add any poultry or seafood to this pizza with good results if you prefer protein on your pizza. In the end, I preferred the vegetarian version though.
For additional flavoring, I added these during pizza assembly:
8 oz. of feta cheese on the cusp of the dreaded “good until” date
Approximately 4 oz. of leftover grated parmesan cheese
4 oz. of grated mozzarella cheese
For my finishing touches, I complimented the pizza with some aromatics and a garnish:
1 bunch of basil leaves, torn, not cut
4 minced garlic cloves
4 thinly sliced green onions that I used as a colorful garnish
To begin, drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of good quality olive oil over the pre-cooked crust.
Here’s the quick 1-2-3 for Pizza Assembly:
- For the first layer of flavor, sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the drizzle of olive oil.
- Next spread those colorful sautéed vegetables, one by one, over the pizza. Their order doesn’t matter. Once the vegetables are arranged, sprinkle the chopped garlic and basil over the top.
- To finish off the pizza and to prevent the topping from burning, crumble the feta cheese over everything and then end with the mozzarella cheese.
Place the pizza in the 500° oven on the preheated pizza stone. If you don’t own a pizza stone, a pizza pan works just fine and doesn’t require preheating. If you don’t have a pizza pan, use a cookie sheet. I’ve even used a preheated cast iron skillet when nothing else was available but use the bottom or you can’t cut and remove the pizza with ease.
Watch carefully and when the cheese melts and just about to brown, it’s time to remove your pizza from the oven. At such a high temperature, it only takes a couple of minutes so watch it carefully!
Take advantage of the minute or so you need to wait before slicing and sprinkle those green onions over the top so they stick in the melted cheese.
Slice and serve while still hot!
Go ahead and conduct your own Seek and Find Mission and use whatever vegetables you find in your refrigerator!