Years ago, one downtown restaurant had a weekly pizza night when the kitchen churned out single-size pizzas in a variety of styles. My favorite was a Tuna Nicoise Pizza.
I don't remember everything that was on that pizza – give me a break here, it was nearly two decades ago! – but as far as I can recall, it came with goat cheese, black olives, red onion and perfectly grilled tuna on top. That restaurant's pizza night was discontinued long ago, but I think of that pizza from time to time and decided to create my own version.
Nicoise is more commonly seen as a salad that traditionally features tuna or anchovies, black olives, boiled eggs and tomatoes. The salad (and so, too, my pizza) are open to the addition of other vegetables you might have on hand.
I baked my tuna, but you could grill it or even use a good-quality oil-packed tuna from the canned meat aisle. Salmon would also work here, and grocery stores sometimes have grilled pieces in the prepared-food section of the deli. If fish isn't your thing, you could swap it out for chicken or a thinly sliced piece of steak.
I used baby potatoes, but you could easily use a single new potato for this. (If you think potatoes are weird on a pizza, I urge you to give it a try. A shop near my university had a baked potato pizza that still makes my mouth water when I think about it.)
Remember to turn off your oven after removing the baked crust. When you put the topped pizza back in the oven, you just want to warm the ingredients through. The residual heat in the oven will do that without accidentally burning the crust. This is a pizza that's served warm, not mouth-melting hot.
It's also a pizza that you're probably going to want to eat with a fork and knife. I know – I know! – that's controversial in the pizza world, but there's no melted cheese to keep all these toppings from falling off when you pick up the slice. So it's up to you, but I like to keep my shirt clean.
The dough recipe will make double the amount you need for this pizza. You can wrap the extra ball of dough in plastic wrap and keep it in a zip-top bag in the freezer until your next pizza adventure.
One of my favorite things to do with leftover dough is make focaccia bread. Press the dough into a rimmed baking sheet covered in cooking spray. Brush the top with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and/or herbs. Bake at 450 degrees about 10 to 15 minutes, until bubbles rise and the top is lightly browned. When it has cooled, cut it into strips and serve with a meal or as a snack. You can also cut larger pieces to use for sandwiches.
You can use regular yeast in this recipe, but you'll need to let it bloom in the water and factor in a second rise of about an hour after rolling the 2 balls.
Makes 2 crusts.
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed
11/2 teaspoons salt
1 (21/4 teaspoon) package rapid rise instant yeast
11/2 cups warm water, plus extra as needed
Olive oil, for drizzling
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, yeast and salt together. Mix in water until a shaggy dough forms.
Turn the bowl onto a floured surface and continue working it with your hands. Add additional water in 1 tablespoon increments if too dry or flour in same measurement if too sticky. Continue kneading about 10 minutes or until the dough is a smooth and elastic ball.
Coat another large bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside, rubbing a bit more olive oil over the top (but don't drown it).
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place such as an unheated oven until the dough has doubled, about 2 hours.
Deflate the dough with your fist and separate into two pieces, rolling each into a ball.
Wrapped in plastic, the balls can be refrigerated for a day or frozen.
– Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis on FoodNetwork.com
Tuna Nicoise Pizza
Makes about 8 slices.
1 ball pizza dough, see recipe
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces goat cheese, near room temperature
1 tablespoon chives, chopped
About 4 ounces tuna, flaked or sliced
10 green beans, blanched and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup baby potatoes, boiled and sliced
1 radish, thinly sliced
1/4 cup black olives, sliced or cut in half
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 hard-boiled egg, sliced
1/2 tablespoon parsley, chopped
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Press dough into a 13-inch circle on a pizza pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray, and brush top with olive oil. Bake about 10 minutes, until crust is cooked through and golden brown.
Remove crust and turn oven off. Working carefully (that crust and pan are HOT, folks), spread the goat cheese over the crust and sprinkle on chives. Top with tuna, green beans, potatoes, radish, olives and tomatoes.
Put the pizza in the oven and let it sit for about 5 minutes, or until the toppings are warmed through.
Remove from the oven, add sliced egg and sprinkle with parsley. Slice and serve.
Recipe Swap is published the second Wednesday of each month. Corey McMaken is a home cook, not a food expert.
Recipe Swap is adding a new feature. Each month, we will include a question for readers to answer as part of the following month's column.
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