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Friday, August 3, 2007

Artichoke and Purple Basil Pizza

For my first foray into Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Kalyn's Kitchen I knew I wanted to put together an interesting pizza. Putting together pizza toppings can be a really fun inventive process. My husband and I went over to visit our friends Kelly and Rachel with nothing but a rising bowl of whole wheat pizza crust and a plan. The four of us raided their kitchen and garden to come up with the spoils to put four different pizzas together. One of the favorites was a pizza topped with garlic, mozzarella cheese, artichoke hearts and herbs. For the herbs we used a combination of yellow oregano and purple basil from their garden. The purple basil gave the pizza a beautiful and unexpected look. We all agreed that a mouth full of the artichokes and herbs was just the right combination.

Purple Basil

It was difficult for me to find information on Purple Basil (Ocimum basilcum purpurea). Most sources indicate that it is similar to sweet basil, but with distinctive purple leaves. Visually, the leaves were more deeply veined than traditional basil, and the edges of the leaves were slightly jagged.

Gardeners interested in cultivating purple basil should take some caution. Gardeners on some sites warn to plant carefully, as purple basil can be a voracious grower that takes over your garden. As with other invasive herbs, it may be a good idea to keep purple basil in a pot. However, one gardener warned that airborne seeds spread the plant throughout his garden. Other gardeners have found that purple basil is particularly sensitive to over watering: overly damp soil conditions quickly result in wilted or dead plants.


Ingredients:

3 oz mozzarella cheese
1/2 head of garlic, roasted (or 3 cloves minced)
3 whole artichoke hearts
20 good sized fresh purple basil leaves
1/4 C loosely packed fresh yellow oregano leaves
Sea salt (Himalayan Pink or other)

1 whole wheat pizza crust

Using roasted garlic as the base for this pizza is divine, but requires a little bit of preparation in advance to roast the garlic in the oven. Everyone seems to have a different method for roasting garlic, but let me say briefly: I cut roughly the top 1/4 inch off the head, careful to cut at a slight angle around the sides so that every clove is opened at the top. Then I place the head into a small stoneware baking dish and drizzle or spray it with olive oil. I bake mine in the oven on 350 until they are golden brown and soft to the touch. The cloves should be soft enough to slide easily out of the paper 'jackets' when gently squeezed. I believe this usually takes 25-35 minutes, but I strongly recommend checking. This can be done up to a day in advance.

If you don't have time for the roasting, substitute 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced.

1. Spread the minced or roasted garlic evenly around the pizza crust.

2. Start with 3 oz of good fresh mozzarella cheese. I beg you not to use the already shredded bag variety, this is the boxed wine of the cheese world. The taste of fresh mozzarella really is superior. To shred the cheese put the mozzarella in the freezer until slightly firm, about 5-10 minutes. This makes shredding soft cheese easier. Spread the cheese evenly on top of the garlic.

3. Cut the artichoke hearts into quarters lengthwise (as shown in photo above). This doesn't impact the taste, it just makes for a nicer presentation.

4. Sprinkle the oregano leaves evenly around the pizza. If you only have access to regular fresh oregano, cut the amount roughly in half, as yellow oregano is more mild than traditional Mediterranean oregano. If you only have dried oregano cut the amount back to 1/4-1/2 tsp.

5. Place the whole purple basil leaves evenly around the pizza.

6. Sprinkle with 1/8 tsp of sea salt. We used beautiful pink Himalayan salt that Rachel and Kelly had at home, but any coarse sea salt would work fine.

Bake at 400 until golden brown, approximately 10-15 minutes. Serve hot.

This pizza would pair well with white wine, including Pinot Grigio.



Nutritional information for topping and whole wheat crust, per serving (1/2 pizza): 447 calories, 11 g fat, 21 g fiber, 751 mg sodium

Nutritional information (topping only), per serving: 279 calories, 10 g fat, 18 g fiber, 600 mg sodium.

Nutritional information (topping only), reducing the cheese to 2 oz: 237 calories, 7.3 g fat, 18 g fiber, 525 mg sodium

Nutritional Information is calculated via Calorie-Count.com

4 comments:

Kalyn said...

Sounds just wonderful. Pizza is on my (ever-growing) list of things I must try making. So much healthier and better than pizza you buy.

I didn't know purple basil could be invasive or spread from the seeds. Of course, I always pick my basil before it goes to seed, using it up as fast as I can. I haven't grown the purple kind; always mean to but never see the plants for some reason.

Maria Helene Schlösser said...

I have purple basil in my garden, and I love artichokes. So I´ll give it a try. Welcome!!!

pat r said...

I too have purple basil in my garden. I made the dough this morning and stuck it in the fridge. Will be making this pizza tonight.

Erin said...

Maria and Pat-Glad to hear you are giving it a try. It is really one of my favorite combinations. It is also very tasty with the spicy marinated artichokes, if you are a fan of that. Remember not to hold back on the herbs!

I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Drop me a line if you get a chance.

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