17 February 2013

Arrabbiata Caprese Pizza with Shrimp

Do you ever have a hard time choosing between two different types of pizza?  Lord knows I do.  Ask the hubs and he will tell you that I am the absolute queen of indecision.  When we go out to brunch, I'm the annoying one who asks the waitstaff which dishes they prefer, if their cheese is broiled or melted, and if they substitute egg whites free of charge (and all this helps me pick between my final two or three runners-up).  The hubs then quickly follows up with a simple "eggs benedict" much to the relief of the person taking our order.  Indecision seems to be my lot in life.  But just like it typically helps me get the perfect breakfast, it also helps me made delicious new recipes such as this amazing pizza.

We are fortunate enough to have some full-blooded Italian friends who share their delicious family favorites with us from time to time.  As Julia Child says, "people who love food are the best people."  And while our friends are adventurous, food-loving individuals, I am not sure if this recipe would be included the Cesta's family restaurant menu, or if Grandma Bower would permit this being served alongside her delicious spaghetti and meatballs.  So if you are Italian and believe I am committing a cardinal sin by combining these two classic flavor profiles, I offer my profound apologies.  No pizza for you!

This is a fabulous combination of two of my absolute favorite Italian flavors - arrabbiata and caprese.  Arrabbiata is a spicy "angry" sauce of tomatoes and red peppers.  Caprese is a delicious fresh salad of buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil.  And both are better in my belly than outside of it.  So bringing the two together in one delicious pizza is one of the best indecisive-decisions of my life.  When I tossed the idea off the hubs, he was absolutely on board.  And his idea of tossing some fresh shrimp on top was the icing on the cake (but in a savory sense...so chili flakes on the pizza?)

If you are vegetarian, you could absolutely make this dish without the shrimp.  However, if you like these little crustaceans  be sure to include them.  The sweet, light flavor is perfect on this pizza and firm texture is fabulous.  They are a wonderful addition to the melty mozzarella, fresh basil, and zesty tomato sauce.  As a side note, this recipe is made with pre-made marinara sauce but feel free to swap in homemade for an even more "from scratch" taste.  After spending the day learning to use my new sewing machine by busting out a pair of surprisingly wearable pajama pants, I was looking to cut a few corners.

Arrabbiata Caprese Pizza with Shrimp (1 12-inch pizza, serves 2 w/ leftovers)

  • 1/2 recipe Easy Whole Wheat Pizza Crust (or your favorite)
  • cornmeal, for sprinkling
  • 7 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 c prepared marinara (we like Classico Tomato & Basil)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 tsp red chili flakes (more for a spicier pizza)
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced into rounds
  • 5 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced into rounds
  • 1/3 c sliced basil

Place a pizza stone or pan in the oven and pre-heat to 475 degrees.  The pre-heated stone/pan will help the pizza get a crispier crust on the bottom while baking.

Spread a piece of parchment paper on the counter and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Form your dough into a circle about 12-14 inches across and set aside to rest.  

Place a medium pan over medium-high heat.  Toss the peeled shrimp in a small bowl with the salt and pepper.  When the pan is hot, spray with non-stick and add the seasoned shrimp.  Cook for 1 minute on each side, until browned, before removing to a plate to rest.  They will finish cooking in the oven. 

Set the pan on a cool burner.  Add the olive oil and then the minced garlic (reducing the heat of the pan slightly will help your garlic not burn).  Cook for 30 seconds, then add the marinara and chili flakes and place the pan back on the heated burner.  Stir to combine and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer for an additional 7-10 minutes so flavors have a chance to combine.

While your sauce is simmering, slice your tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.  When the sauce is ready, pour onto the prepared pizza crust, reserving about 1 tablespoon for the shrimp   Spread the sauce evenly over the pizza crust, then top with tomato slices.  Distribute mozzarella slices evenly between the tomatoes.  Toss together the reserved marinara with the pre-cooked shrimp, then distribute shrimp evenly over the top of the pizza.  You are ready for the oven!

Open the oven, then quickly pick up the parchment paper under the pizza and transfer to the heated stone/pan.  Close the oven as quickly as possible so you don't loose too much heat.  Cook for 8-10 minutes, until cheese is melted.  Turn the broiler onto high and cook for an additional minute or two until the mozzarella is just starting to blister.  Remove and sprinkle with fresh basil.  Let cool for a few minutes before slicing.  Fantastic with a glass of Shiraz and a simple salad.  

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