Thursday, January 27, 2011

Quattro Stagioni

As we round the corner on spring, I'm certainly in high spirits about the spectacular color show that is undoubtedly ahead of us. Don't you just love the changing of the seasons? There's something to look forward to at every turn -- veggies and perennials to plant in spring, beach trips and blooming roses in the summer, Thanksgiving gatherings with dear friends in the fall, and mugs of mulled cider in front of the fireplace in winter. As I was pondering the changing of the seasons, I decided to make a Pizza Quattro stagioni for dinner. Roughly translated from the Italian, this just means Four Seasons Pizza. I did have one of these in Florence during a recent trip to Italy, and it was molto delicioso. From what I understand, it is simply a pizza with four quadrants, representing the four seasons. It makes for a very nice meal due to the variety in the toppings.

I'm not sure if each of the "seasons" is supposed to contain a particular ingredient, but I'm guessing that this is not the case, since I've seen many, many variations on this pizza. I simply used whatever was available in my fridge – zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, mixed olives, and red bell peppers -- to throw together this easy weeknight dinner. I guess this post is really more to inspire rather than to serve as a strict recipe. So, pump up the Vivaldi, pour yourself a glass of chianti, and get creative. Buon appetito!

Guide for Pizza Quattro Stagioni

Pizza base (make your own or buy them premade. I use a whole wheat Pita from the refrigerated section at New Seasons Market, and these serve as the perfect base for individual pies)

Sauce (I used Prego Garden Vegetable; I've used a homemade pesto before, and this is also delicious)

Toppings: I used sliced red bell peppers; kalamata and green olives; shiitake mushrooms; and thinly sliced zucchini. But of course, the possibilities are endless. I topped all pizzas with fresh basil, which added a very nice flavor. Rosemary or oregano would also be great as a spice.

Cheese: Since I was using fresh basil, I opted for the classic pairing of basil with fresh mozzarella, but any cheese that melts would work well. If I had some feta in the fridge, I would certainly have used this as well.

To prepare: Sauce your pizza base, top with "toppings", sprinkle cheese and spices on top, and bake in a 350 deg F oven till bases are browned, toppings are tender, and cheese is melted (about 15 minutes for my pizzas).


Great for a weekday dinner!


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