Zucchini, Mushroom & Provolone Picnic Pizza
When you bring homemade pizza to a picnic, you can’t afford to have cheese sliding all over. Maybe that’s why we don’t see enough pizza posing as picnic food: we’re all afraid of hot mozz sliding off the marinara and onto our laps. Or maybe worse–the cheese congealing while we toss the frisbee until we sit down to a pie that looks more like yesterday’s late-night order than today’s fresh meal.
But what if you forget pizza margarita and make a pie that’s less saucy and slide-y? If you do so, you’ll see that pizzas, re-envisioned as vegetable-topped flatbreads–are ideal picnic food. They’re easy to transport, good at room temperature, and if you put enough vegetables on top you might just eliminate the need for side dishes.
Another thing you can eliminate: bringing utensils to your picnic by cutting up the pizza at home before you go. That’s what we did, with a pair of kitchen scissors, ten minutes after it came out of the oven; the crust and topping were sturdy enough by then. They held up pretty well when we piled the uneven rectangles onto two plastic plates and headed, with friends, to the park for a concert.
The presentation on plates left over from December was a little makeshift, sure, but since the cheese wasn’t dancing all around on a hot, flimsy crust, transportation was easy and successful. We brought a few napkins and nothing else, gear-wise. We ate on our blanket, grateful not to have to buy dinner at the park, food that always looks good but usually, you know, disappoints. We didn’t have to haul back containers or leftovers, either.
When I made this again the following week, we weren’t going anywhere outside to eat. So after the timer beeped and I piled on the parm, I sat down to a meal in a very sticky apartment. That’s when the foolishness of turning the oven to 500°F when the city has already hiked up the heat to 95°F became evident. My cravings make me an idiot! Still, if there’s any good reason to sweat out dinner prep right now, using summer veggies to produce pizza has got to be top of the list.
Plus, there’s your reason two to make this pizza for a picnic: you get to leave the hot apartment in our wake while you bask in the cool breezes of the park.
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1½ teaspoons sea salt
- 1¼ cups water
- Olive oil
- 2 small zucchini, sliced paper thin on a mandoline
- 1 small onion or shallot, sliced paper thin on a mandolin e
- 12 white mushrooms, sliced paper thin on a mandoline
- About 8 cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 6 slices deli-style provolone cheese, torn into a few pieces each
- about ½ cup loosely packed freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
- Either the night before or the morning of, grab a large bowl, and mix together the flour, ⅛ teaspoons yeast (if the night before) and ¼ teaspoon (if the morning of), salt, and water with a spoon. It won't look very manageable, but don't worry! Leave for either 22 hours or 10 to 12 hours, until bubbly and doubled.
- About a half hour before you're going to bake, preheat the oven to to 500°F. Place a pizza stone inside, if you have one. Oil two baking sheets.
- Combine the zucchini with ¼ teaspoon salt. Toss together, then let them sit for at least 15 minutes, while you do the rest of your prep (longer is fine!).
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface; flour your hands too. Touching the dough as little as possible to minimize sticking, break into 2 pieces and shape them into approximate balls.
- Stretch one ball of dough into a circle or circle-like shape by picking it up, pulling the edges, and pressing them out on the counter. Don't worry if the shapes look weird. Place the stretched-out dough on the oiled baking sheet. Brush lightly all over with olive oil. Repeat with the second ball of dough.
- When you're ready to go, use your hands to squeeze out some of the moisture from the bowl of zucchini. Then wrap the veggie slices in a clean kitchen towel and wring it to squeeze out all the water you possibly can. Wipe out the bowl and return the zucchini to it. Add the onions, mushrooms, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and a big pinch of salt and toss.
- Now, grab your crusts again. Scatter the provolone slices on top, leaving a crust around the edge. Pile on the vegetables, smoothing them out so they're more or less even. Dot the cherry tomato slices across the surface. Place the baking sheet in the oven, on the pizza stone if using. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the crust is golden and the vegetables are cooked. Remove from the oven and top immediately with the Parmesan cheese. Drizzle on a little more oil, sprinkle on the oregano, and let the pizza rest for about 5 minutes before cutting into pieces (you can do wedges or squares, as you prefer!). Serve hot or room temperature.