Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Herbed Spinach Pizza

My very first "real" job {as in, gotsta fill out a W-2 employment} was shop girl at a gift shop attached to a fancy-schmancy pharmacy.  The owner was a bit of a skeezeball -- cherry-picking new hires mostly from my high school's dance team and cheerleading squad, requiring us to wear skirts or dresses, making little creeptastic comments here and there.  We stuck it out because he was otherwise pretty harmless, and the money was easy -- dust the breakables, windex the counters, try to be somewhat covert when pilfering fancy German truffles from the chocolate case, and collect a tidy little slightly-higher-than-minimum-wage paycheck.  

Also, the florist sometimes bought us six-packs of Zima.  Good times. 

My second "real" job was my first foray into food service and couldn't have been more different, experience-wise.  I was a hostess at the original location of a local pizzeria which is, very sadly, no longer in existence {RIP Mangia Pizza Lakeside... I can't think too much about your demise without getting misty-eyed}.  I performed the usual hostess-y duties {sat customers, took drink orders, logged to-go and delivery orders over the phone, helped run food for servers, bused and cleaned tables, etc} as well as tended the kegs and wine cooler {because allowing 18 year olds to serve but not imbibe alcohol makes so much good sense, Texas}.  I was also in charge of ensuring the manager's pot {stowed safely-ish in the walk-in fridge...as all produce is} didn't get mixed up with the oregano.  And once I carried a bunch of pizzas to Ann Richards' car, and she tipped me $20.  

Marijuana Babysitting Bragging Rights {I was entirely too much of a priss to partake in recreational drugs in high school but my proximity to such upped my street cred in my head somehow} + Gubernatorial Gratuity {I've been a Mega Ann Fan since my dad took me out of 2nd grade for her inauguration} = Basically, The Coolest Job of All Time.  Keep Austin Weird, y'all. 

ANYHOODLE, one of Mangia's specialties was a spinach topping that was premixed every night with a secret blend of herbs and cheeses.  It was delicious and amazing, unless you happened to be a sad, sad non-dairy-consuming individual, in which case...DEPRESSING. 

While I hung up my khaki shorts and cartoon pizza-flipping T-Rex tee long ago, I've thought about that spinach pizza many times since {and ordered it as often as I could on visits home}.  A few months ago, I found myself on Pizza Friday with an errant box of baby spinach and my wheels started a-turning. I've tinkered around with this recipe a bit since then and, while it still can't hold a candle to that Mangia original, I'm pretty confident it's a close second.

Herbed Spinach Pizza

- your favorite pizza dough {I'm super fond of Smitten Kitchen's lazy pizza dough made with 1 1/4 c. white pastry flour and 3/4 c. whole wheat flour}
- your favorite pizza sauce 
- 5 oz box or bag of baby spinach {or the big ol' 11 ouncer if you're not adding other toppings}
- 1/2 c. finely grated Parmesan {or a cup if you're using the big box of spinach}
- 2 T. Italian herbs {x2 if using the 11 oz.}
- 1/2 T. red pepper flakes {again, x2 if using the 11 oz.}
- other toppings of your choosing {this time, I used 2 yellow summer squash, sliced and quartered, then sautéed lightly in olive oil} {any veggies or pepperoni or sausage or combo thereof is superb!} 
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed 
- olive oil Misto
- sea salt 
- finely grated Parmesan for serving 

Preheat oven to 475 {or temperature dictated by your dough recipe}. Roll out your dough on a cookie sheet misted with olive oil. Mist top with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt on top of dough and slide into the oven for 5 minutes. Prebaking the crust a little ensures the middle won't get soggy when your veggies give off moisture in the oven. 

Meanwhile, lightly sauté and wilt spinach with a bit of olive oil. You want it to cook down some but not completely. 

Remove spinach onto a cutting board and pat with paper towels to remove some excess moisture. Chop finely. Add to a mixing bowl with Parmesan, Italian herbs, and red pepper flakes. Combine thoroughly. 

When dough is finished with its initial baking, spread sauce on top, followed by spinach mixture and other toppings, if using. 

Add fresh mozzarella on top. 

- bake for 7 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown.  Sprinkle extra Parmesan and red pepper flakes on top. 

- Devour with all the gusto of a teenager up to no good cashing a pizza paycheck on a Friday night. 


  1. Yum! And also, so impressed with your cooking of actual food with a newborn and a 2 year old!

    1. It's freezer meals, take out, and Trader Joe's goodies every other night of the week... but I can't quit Friday Pizza Night!

  2. That looks awesome. Must make in the very near future.

  3. Yum. And bonus points for so much veggie on the pizza. My ratio of meat & cheese to veggie is usually heavily skewed in the wrong direction.

    1. Ditto whenever we order out pizza -- GIVE ME ALL THE ITALIAN MEATS! At home, I use pizza to clean out the veggie drawer...and maybe the veggies kinda justify my need to have pizza at least once a week?!

  4. Have you tried TJ's pizza dough? While I love to make dough, that dough is just too good to pass up! Also grilling your pizza is our Friday/Saturday night go to - same idea of prebake (grill) one side then add toppings to baked side, then bake the undergrilled side on the grill. SO GOOD.

    1. I am a fan of TJ's dough! And I really do need to try grilling pizza -- do you use a pizza stone?

  5. Kate, I've really been enjoying your recent posts! I love your blog so I'm thrilled that you've been posting more lately. Major kudos for cranking out the blog posts with Baby B, you are supermom!! Also, my parents make a homemade shrimp, cherry tomato, and arugula grilled pizza (recipe from Cakebread) that is out of this world. I need to figure out how they do the grilling, I'm always too busy tasting the wine to pay attention!


happy little comments!