Pizza: Flight of the Concords and a Whiter Shade of Kale

I’m lucky to have one of the best pizzerias in my neighborhood– unpretentious yet creative and just downright delicious neapolitan style pizza is the standard at Paulie Gee’s.

Inspired by some of Paulie Giannone‘s ever amazing whimsical, inventive pies topped with fresh, local ingredients, I tried some new topping combinations when making my own homemade pizza last night. Paulie Gee’s menu changes seasonally, but some of my favorites have included “A Whiter Shade of Kale,” featuring baby kale, cremini mushrooms, and fresh mozzarella and “Grapeful Dead” with pickled grapes, spinach, gouda and parmesan. Other pies include a spicy honey, so that each bite has a sweet-salty-hot flavor.

Concord grapes are in season, and I’d picked some up from my local fruit and vegetable market the day before. I knew I wanted to use these, along with tomatoes, basil and dinosaur kale growing in my backyard garden. I also had gouda, fresh mozzarella, garlic, shitake mushrooms and an Italian white truffle honey that a student had given me as a present. I made my own lemony ricotta, and began to prepare the toppings.

For my own Whiter Shade of Kale, I sautéed kale with olive oil, garlic, sliced shitakes and a touch of sea salt. I put these onto my dough (recipe here), added gouda, and drizzled the honey on top before placing it into the oven.

For Flight of the Concords, I sliced the concord grapes and removed the seeds. I put these, along with sliced yellow plum tomatoes on my dough, dotted it with my homemade ricotta, and slid it into the oven. The pie was sweet– it could almost have been a dessert pizza, although I still ate it for dinner.

And because you can’t go wrong with a classic Margherita, I also made one of those– slathering the dough with olive oil and fresh garlic, and then placing slices of tomatoes from my garden and fresh mozzarella on top before putting it in the oven.

All of the pizzas were cooked at 500, the highest setting for my oven, atop seasoned unglazed quarry tiles that I purchased for 15 cents each from Home Depot (much cheaper than a pizza stone, and you can line your entire oven.) Cast iron pans will work well too.

When the pies came out, I garnished each with fresh chopped basil, coarse sea salt and olive oil laced with chilies. I won’t post a formal recipe, because there’s not much more too it that– get creative with your pizza toppings and mangia!