If, as you go about becoming a better and better cook, you find yourself looking for ways to increase the satisfaction factor of salad dressings and sautéd greens, beef stews and olive tapenades, I bet you’ll become incrementally more obsessed with a tiny sliver that delivers unbelievable flavor: the anchovy. I am here to tell you that this is what has happened to me. Paired with this confession? A homemade pizza that appreciates anchovies as much as I do.
Please, don’t shirk away if the brilliance of the anchovy has yet to glare brightly at you, grabbing your culinary attention. By modifying the amount of anchovies here, you can use this recipe–a simple white pizza–as a gateway for wannabe anchovy lovers (like yourself), as a celebration of brine, salt, and umami for those who already adore the little fish, or as something in between.
It’s funny, because the first time I made a version of this pizza, I was desperate for lunch and had almost no ingredients around. With some pre-shredded mozzarella I had stowed in the freezer so long ago I actually couldn’t remember the occasion and a pre-made pizza crust, I whipped up a pizza just like this in almost no time at all. Long story short, that pizza–sad ingredients aside–tasted delicious. That meant that an intentional pizza, with a similarly minimalistic number of ingredients, would taste even better.
Recently, I was exploring the realm of at-home pizza-making for First We Feast. This is a fanatical world, a place where ovens are turned, through hacks, into pizza ovens, and the moisture content of dough is serious business. I came back from that brink only to discover that Deb of Smitten Kitchen had pretty much figured out homemade pizza crust, that is, how to make Jim Lahey’s no-knead recipe even more accessible than ever, and that’s where I landed on the homemade dough for this delectable shrine to anchovies, also known as Pizza Bianca with Anchovies & Kale.
Pizza Bianca with Anchovies & Kale
Makes 3 small pizzas
For the cheese, I used what I like to call “aged” mozzarella. It’s the kind from the supermarket and has a lower moisture content than . If you’d like to make the pizza on a different timeline (that day, instead of the day before), head over to Smitten Kitchen and read her thorough instructions for dough.
For the dough
from Smitten Kitchen via Jim Lahey
3 cups all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 1/4 cups water
For the pizza
About 3/4 pound mozzarella, torn or chopped
1 small bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped
1 3.5-ounce good-quality anchovies in oil (I like Ortiz)
about 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Make the dough: in a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, salt, and water with a spoon. It won’t look very manageable, but don’t worry! Leave for about 22 hours, until bubbly and doubled.
About a half hour before you’re going to bake, prep the toppings. Preheat the oven to to 500°F. Place a pizza stone inside, if you have one. Oil a baking sheet. Turn the dough onto a floured surface; flour your hands too. Touching the dough as little as possible to minimize sticking, break into 3 pieces and shape them into balls.
Stretch one ball of dough into a circle or circle-like shape (don’t sweat it), and place on the oiled baking sheet. Brush lightly with oil. Scatter with one-third of the cheese, leaving a crust. Don’t overload with cheese! Sprinkle with chopped kale, again, not too much (refer to the pic above for amounts). Place 2 to 6 anchovies on the pizza; if you use the smaller amount, chop and scatter them; if the larger amount, you can leave them whole. Place the baking sheet on the pizza stone, or just on an oven rack, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust is brown. Remove from the oven, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with a third of the Parm, and rest for 2 minutes. While the pizza is resting, repeat with the remaining 2 balls of dough, baking them as you cut and serve the first pie. These keep very well in the fridge, so even if you think you’ll only get through one or two pizzas, make all three and enjoy the best leftovers!