Before I return to the mountain of school work waiting for me I wanted to share with you what we had for dinner this evening: Caramelized Onion & Spinach Pizza Pie. Using a basic pizza dough recipe from “The Bread Bible” and some nifty instructions from “The Cook’s Book” I whipped this baby up during study breaks this afternoon. If you ask me, at the end of a long day there are few things better than a fantastic pizza crust filled with melted feta cheese, caramelized onions, spinach and mozzarella.
This recipe may sound complicated, but if you have worked with dough before it’s actually not too difficult. All it requires is a bit of know-how and a lot of patience. In addition to rising time the dough needs to rest while you are rolling it out into a thin circle, which then has to be handled gently in order to avoid tearing it. Nevertheless, your efforts will be rewarded. This pie was a huge hit. In fact, it’s already been added to this weekend’s menu. Encore!
Step 1: Make the pizza dough
Make 1 1/2 batches of pizza dough using the recipe listed here, in a previous “Baking and Books” entry. Follow the instructions up until (and including) the line that reads “Let rise at room temperature until tripled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.”
Step 2: Make your filling
During the last 30 minutes of dough rising time begin making your filling.
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
- One 9-oz package of spinach
- 2 large cloves of garlic, diced
- One 8-oz bag of Mozzarella
- 4-oz of feta cheese
- About 1/2 cup of your favorite pasta sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, add the onion and a generous pinch of salt. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the the onions have taken on a light brown color (caramelized), about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the spinach in handfuls, allowing each addition to wilt before adding the next. Once all the spinach has wilted cook for approximately 3 more minutes – just long enough for excess liquid to evaporate. The mixture can be moist but shouldn’t be watery. Season with pepper and additional salt to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
Step 3: Roll out & fill the dough
Gently punch down your dough and remove from the bowl. Divide into thirds, then put 1/3 back into the bowl. Roll out the remaining 2/3 of dough on a lightly floured surface, into a circle about 8-inches in diameter. Cover it with a clean towel while you lightly grease an 8-inch springform pan with olive oil.
Remove the towel and roll out the dough into an even larger, thinner circle, measuring 16-inches in diameter. Cover again and let rest for a few minutes, then gently lift it up, balancing the weight of the dough over your hands and forearms, and lay it over the pan so that the center droops down to cover the bottom. Be careful not to let the dough tear. Gently ease the dough into the corners and up the sides of the pan, leaving some hanging slightly over the rim.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Add about 1/4 cup of your pasta sauce and spread evenly over the bottom and sides of the dough using a spoon. Sprinkle the bottom with half the feta cheese, then half the onion mixture, then half the mozzarella. Repeat again, beginning with the sauce and ending with the mozzarella cheese.
Roll out the smaller piece of dough you set aside earlier, into a circle about 8-inches in diameter. Place this on top of your filling. Use a knife or scissors to trim the edges of the dough lining the pan, so that they can be folded in over the top crust and overlap it slightly. Brush the top of the crust with a little olive oil, about 1 tablespoon, then let the pie rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Place the pie in the middle of the preheated oven and bake until the top is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Carefully remove the side of the pan and allow the pie to cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve hot or warm and enjoy!