Crab and Arugula Pizza

June 1, 2012

Crab & Arugula Pizza

This is one of those recipes that was born of what was on hand. A while back I began to get super excited that my first batch of greens was ready in the garden, and it happened to be one of my favorites — arugula! Ever since I first had arugula and proscuitto on a pizza, I’ve been enamored with the idea of ever-so-slightly wilted greens on top of my pizza. I happened to have mozzarella on hand, but no proscuitto.

What did have on hand? A half a can of crab meat, left over from a night of Indian-flavored crab cakes, that I didn’t want going to waste. While it isn’t the most intuitive combination one might make, I decided crab and cheese must go together, because people make crab melts. I was slightly conflicted on adding tomato sauce to the mix, afraid of overwhelming the flavor of the crab, but I decided a scant bit of tomato couldn’t hurt. After all, cioppino has crab and tomato… And luckily all of these leaps and bounds yielded an amazingly decadent recipe that I’ll be keeping in my pizza rotation.

Crab and Arugula Pizza
Serves 2
1 pizza dough round (recipe below)
1/3 cup tomato sauce for pizza (recipe below)
5 to 6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
8 ounces lump crab meat, picked over for shells
1 loosely packed cup arugula
Olive oil
Sea Salt
Cornmeal & semolina flour for pizza peel

Place a pizza stone on the bottom rack in your oven, and preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Let the oven warm for at least 45 minutes so the pizza peel has time to get very hot.

Sprinkle a pizza peel with a handful of semolina flour and a dash of cornmeal so the dough will easily slide off the peel. Place the pizza dough onto the peel lightly, and shake gently to ensure there is no stickage. Using a small ladle, spread the tomato sauce evenly onto the dough, then top with cubes of mozzarella and crab.

Slide the pizza onto the hot stone, taking care not to spill ingredients off the dough or crumple the dough on the stone. Bake for 12 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the underside of the dough is lightly browned. Open the oven, and add the arugula leaves, taking care not to burn yourself. Dust off the peel, and slide it under the pizza to remove from the oven.

Drizzle lightly with quality olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. Cut the pizza into 6 pieces, and dig in!

Pizza Dough
Makes 2 12-inch pizza rounds
7 ounces lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons dried yeast
3 2/3 cup (450 grams) all-purpose white flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

Put lukewarm water in a bowl, and stir in the sugar and dried yeast. Set it in a warm place to activate for 15 minutes. If it doesn’t bubble up, start over.

Meanwhile, mix flour and sea salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the yeast mixture and olive oil, and mix until the dough clumps together.

Switch to the dough hook on the stand mixer and let it knead most of the way, pulling it out at the end and doing another 1 or 2 minutes of hand kneading to get the dough good and elastic. Rub a large bowl with a tiny bit of olive oil, roll the ball of dough around in the olive oil to coat, and cut a shallow cross in the top of the dough ball with a sharp knife. Cover with a towel, and place in a warm place to rise for about 1 to 1.5 hours (or in the fridge for 8 hours to rise slowly, but you will have to bring the dough back to room temperature before you can use it later).

After the dough has risen, punch it back down to its original size and divide into two portions. For each portion, push the dough out with your hands into a 12 inch circle (or if you’re really adventurous you can try tossing this in the air to stretch it out! warning – you might end up with dough on your face – or the floor).

At this point you’re ready to top and cook.

Tomato sauce for pizza
Puree 4 ounces whole San Marzanos tomatoes, drained, 3 basil leaves, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and a dash of sea salt and freshly ground pepper pepper in a food processor. Let sit at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld. Use on pizza or toss through pasta for a simple sauce.

I typically triple this recipe (since cans of San Marzanos are around 12 ounces after draining) and freeze it for later use. Sometimes I will add in a little oregano, but not always… either way, this sauce is good!

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