This year, the grand day of roses and romance falls on a Wednesday. While there is certainly nothing wrong with a little extra celebration in the middle of the week, I am not always eager to dress for the Ritz after a long day of work.
On these occasions, Mr. Pedantic and I like to celebrate with a fancier dinner the weekend after Valentine's Day, not only dodging the crowds, but also giving ourselves a chance to celebrate when we can really make a night of it.
That does not mean, however, that February 14th is forgotten. I like to make something special, but simple, at home. Something weeknight appropriate. Something that we could eat on the couch in our pajamas while we watch Age of Adeline. I really love that movie.
Pizza is just the ticket.
No other food rings of love more than the simple combination of bread and cheese.
Of course, this is Valentine's Day, after all, so we cannot make just any pizza. We have to go the extra mile and jazz things up a bit.
I should probably take a moment to say that Mr. Pedantic would not get anywhere near this pizza, (hello, picky eater/onion-hater) but that is not a problem because I can 100% eat every slice of this myself.
The crust of this pizza is thick, chewy, and heart-shaped. You know, keepin' it festive.
It is smothered with a thick, salty-sweet caramelized onion sauce and we could honestly stop right there because it cannot get any better than this.
Until it does.
Mozzarella, kalamata olives, and parmesan join the party and it's time to get excited.
A little modern artwork with some reduced balsamic.
Then we top it with lightly dressed arugula and chopped, toasted pecans.
I do not even know how to describe the wonderful tug-of-war between salty and sweet that goes on here. I may never go back to marinara.
So like, who even cares about a steak dinner now?
Heart-Shaped Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Kalamata Olives
for the crust
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup bread flour
Combine warm water and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and sprinkle yeast over the top; stir just to combine. Allow the mixture to sit, untouched, for 5-10 minutes. The yeast should look frothy.
Fit the mixer with the dough hook attachment, and add olive oil and kosher salt to the yeast mixture. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly incorporate the flours. When the dough has just begun to come together, increase the speed to medium and knead for five minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl, forming a rough ball.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead several times, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a tight ball and place in a well-oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, dry place to rise for one hour.
While the dough is rising, prepare the sauce and toppings.
for the sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 large, sweet onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 cup dry, white wine
- 1 tablespoon amber grade B maple syrup
Combine olive oil and butter in a large skillet and place over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the onions and garlic and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring every so often, for 8-10 minutes.
Cook's Note: During this time, the onions will release a lot of moisture. Our goal is to allow all of that moisture to evaporate so that the sugars can caramelize.
Once the excess water has evaporated and the onions have begun to brown, reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook, stirring often, until the onions are evenly cooked and deep golden in color. This should take 10-15 minutes.
Stir in the white wine and maple syrup and simmer for 2-3 minutes; until thickened. Allow the sauce to cool until just warm while you prepare the other toppings.
toppings and assembly
- 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella, sliced and cut into cubes
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives, sliced lengthwise
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 2 cups fresh arugula
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for stone
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup reduced balsamic*
- 1/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
Cook's Note: You can purchase balsamic glaze ready-made at Trader Joe's, or easily make your own at home! Just place 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Reduce down to about 1/4 cup; until thick and syrupy. Allow to cool.
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees and place a pizza stone on the center rack. Allow the pizza stone to heat for 10 minutes at 500 degrees F before removing from the oven.
While the stone is heating, prepare the crust. Sprinkle a small bit of flour on a clean, dry surface and punch down the dough. Use your knuckles to gently stretch the dough into a 15" circle. Pull the top of the circle inwards, forming a heart.
Brush the heated pizza stone with a bit of olive oil and place the crust directly onto the preheated stone. Ladle the prepared sauce into the center, spreading it evenly over the crust, and leaving about a 1/2-inch “wall” around the edges. Sprinkle with mozzarella, olives, and parmesan and bake for 10 minutes; until the edges are deep golden. Allow the pizza to cool slightly while you prepare the greens.
Dress the arugula with olive oil and lemon juice and let sit for 5 minutes; until slightly wilted. Drizzle the pizza with the reduced balsamic and cover with prepared greens. Sprinkle with toasted pecans and serve immediately. Enjoy!