So you're in a restaurant, chowing down on the best tuna mac or pizza or boeuf Wellington you've ever had, when a crazy thought comes to mind: I can do this at home!! Without a pro chef's fancy appliances and gadgets, you might be challenged to create restaurant-worthy food. Still, after seeing the Worst Cooks in America go from mac n' cheese in a box to salmon tartare with potato pancakes and dill creme fraiche, we figured we could do anything.
We're starting off with an easy one this week, replicating a fabulously delicious vegetarian pizza we had on a recent trip to Pie Zanos Pizza Kitchen in Phoenix's Town & Country shopping plaza. If you haven't been, Pie Zanos lets you customize your pizza with the sauce, crust, spices and toppings of your choice.
We snagged a cool veggie pie with spinach, broccoli, sweet potato and goat cheese atop a wheat crust with alfredo sauce. Can you hear your stomach growling yet?
At Pie Zanos, the pizza crust was already premade in 10-inch rounds. Our "baker" guided us through the making of the pizza, applying sauces and veggies to the crust as we followed him down the long prep counter. The pie was then popped in a standard rolling pizza oven reminiscent of the one we used at our high school job at Little Caesars.
Of course, we were too busy making out with our co-workers in the walk-in cooler to bother with actual pizza making back then. This time, we paid attention. About ten minutes later, the pizza arrived crisp and bubbly, with a chewy crust. The combination of toppings was delicious -- soft, sugary sweet potatoes contrasted with the crisp earthiness of the broccoli. Goat cheese added a zesty "pop," while a small handful of mozzarella glued the ingredients together with a brown, bubbly finish.
Now it was time to test how well we learned. Sadly, our teeny condo kitchen lacks a rolling pizza oven. Instead, we opted to sub pre-made wheat naan bread in for the whole wheat crust, which seemed to come closer to the texture of Pie Zanos' pies than standard store bought crust.
1 wheat naan bread (we purchased ours from the bakery at Whole Foods)
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 cup alfredo sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup goat cheese
2 handfuls fresh spinach
1 whole sweet potato
1 cup fresh broccoli florets
1 tsp. mixed Italian spices (oregano, thyme, basil)
First we peeled, sliced and pre-baked the sweet potato for 10 minutes in a preheated 425-degree oven (Tip: use butter to grease a glass baking pan and the potato will pick up a nice flavor). At the same time, we knocked a little of the crispness off of the raw broccoli by sautéing it in a pan with 2 tablespoons of water for two minutes.
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We then followed Pie Zanos' construction process: First, spread the garlic (you can use paste or store bought diced garlic in water) onto the naan bread. Ladle the alfredo sauce onto the center of the naan and swirl out to 1 or 2 inches inside the border. Next, distribute the spinach evenly over the alfredo. Top with half of the mozzarella. Stagger the sweet potato slices on top of the mozzarella layer, and add broccoli in between the sweet potatoes. Drop goat cheese in spoonfuls between the broccoli. Finally, top with the other half of the mozzarella and lightly season with Italian spices.
Bake for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees, or until cheese is golden brown.
Our pie turned out tasty, though it wasn't quite as good as the original. If we weren't so lazy, handmade pizza dough and alfredo might've made the difference. Until then, there's always Pie Zanos!