My sister-slash-best-friend-in-all-the-world gave me a late birthday present last week. Have you ever received a late gift? I think they’re equally as exciting as “on time” gifts because it’s so unexpected and suddenly there you have another wonderful toy! She spied on my Pinterest board a book I’ve been dreaming about owning for eons, and with a little help from our ESP powers (yes, we’re so tight we claim to have ESP, mostly because we always know what the other is thinking or feeling even oceans apart) she gave me the year’s best gift. It’s the book Nature: Simple, Healthy, and Good by Alain Ducasse. (here in English, here in French)
I’ll swoon very briefly: It’s been said that Alain Ducasse’s name has become synonymous with fine dining. Born and raised in southwestern France, he officially entered the world of food at age 16, and since then he has grown an empire to include 24 restaurants (that’s where I lost count), cooking schools, and cook books. He is the only chef in the Michelin Guide to hold three-star rankings in three different countries, and is also the only chef to hold 19 Michelin stars throughout his career. One of his best quotes, “Tasting a dish should be memorable… If nothing remains in the memory of a single guest, then I have made a mistake.”
This book is my new accessory. I like to see it in whatever room of the house I’m loafing around in, it goes with me on every grocery run, it stands guard on my night stand at night. It’s pure inspiration and motivation (can I add one more “tion” word here… Education).
Because Monsieur Alain is not my neighbor, nor do I live in a reasonable proximity to one of his restaurants, this book is the next best thing. I’ve been reading it page by page and it right away I knew the recipe to try. I’ve been craving a good pizza, but this pregnancy won’t allow anything greasy or unhealthy into my belly or else I get sick for hours! Veggies own this pizza, but it doesn’t mean flavor and body was sacrificed. To the contrary, this pizza is savory and satisfying but sits lightly in your stomach.
I wanted to be included in the eating part of this dish, so I couldn’t follow the recipe exactly. However I didn’t want to stray too far from the original so I only made some slight adjustments and additions. A gluten free crust mix was used, I added a shredded aged cheese mix under the topping to give it a tad more moisture and saltiness (I was raised in a farming family, give me salt!), and the olive oil from his tomato confit recipe was drizzled over the top before it went in the oven.
The recipe looks long and intimidating, but trust me when I say it’s not. There are just a lot of small steps slicing the veggies and decorating the pizza, it’s quite easy. A prepared tomato confit was used, the recipe can be found here. Store bought tomato confit can also be found. Another note found in the recipe is to chop the basil “chiffonade,” which can be found here. Let’s begin!!!
- Gluten-Free Pizza Crust mix (Bob’s Red Mill was used here and it turned wonderfully crispy)
- 2 zucchinis, 1 will be thinly sliced, 1 to be diced
- 2 yellow squash, 1 will be thinly sliced, 1 will be diced
- 1 white onion
- 1 bunch basil
- 1 garlic clove
- couple tablespoons olive oil
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1½ cups aged shredded cheese mix– Asiago, fontina, Parmesan and provolone blend was used here
- half a log Goasts cheese (Sainte-Maure is suggested if available)
- 10 segments tomato confit (see recipe link in post)
- 10 pitted black olives
- olive oil from the tomato confit container
- salt and pepper
- Follow instructions on bag of gluten free pizza crust mix. Roll into two small circles about 6-8 inches wide. (To simplify, dough can be made the night before and stored in the fridge. I cooked my crust and stored it in the freezer.)
- Prepare the veggies: Cut one squash and one zucchini into small dice, ¼ inch sq, removing seeds. Cut the other squash and zucchini into very thin round slices, 1/16 in (this is where the beloved mandolin comes in handy again.) Trim and thinly slice white onion.
- Rinse, dry, and chop the leaves from bunch of basil. (Easiest way to chop would be chiffonade, see link in post.)
- IN a skillet with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, add the i crushed diced garlic clove and the diced squashes. Add the leaves of one sprig of thyme. Gently saute together. Cover with lid and occasionally stir for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes and the veggies have softened, crush with a fork to create a chunky paste, add salt to taste, and add the chopped basil leaves. Set aside.
- Cute half a goat cheese log into rounds. If crust is still in dough form(mine was baked the night before) place on parchment paper on stone or baking sheet and let bake for 3 minutes at 400 degrees.
- Now to assemble the pizza: on each crust circle, sprinkle a ¾ cup of aged cheese mixture, then spread zucchini mixture evenly on top. Alternately arrange the rounds of zucchini, squash, cheese rounds, sliced onion, pitted black olive, and tomato confit pieces onto the top decoratively.
- From the can of confit, use the flavored olive oil and sprinkle all over the top of each pizza. (if you don’t have flavored olive oil, any extra virgin olive oil will work)
- Bake pizzas for 10-15 minutes, keep watch.
- Add a light touch of freshly ground black pepper when removed from the oven and serve warm!