I get excited about any recipe that calls for just a pinch of red pepper flakes. Two years ago, Cooks Illustrated wrote an article remaking pasta alla norma. In the recipe, they wrote that "a small measure of red pepper flakes added a suggestion of heat."
That small pinch of red pepper flakes totally transformed the recipe. After each bite melted away, I was left with just the smallest suggestion of heat. I was hooked. So, when I read the ingredient list for Smitten Kitchen's pizza with broccoli raab and roasted onions, I was delighted to see a pinch of red pepper flakes added into the broccoli raab as it cooked. This tiny ingredient makes a huge difference. Do not leave it out.
Although broccoli rabe just came into season here, I see why Deb from Smitten Kitchen made this recipe in January. It involves roasting onions for at least 30 minutes, and then letting your oven preheat to 500 degrees (!!!) for about an hour. It involves standing over the oven to slide your pizza in and take it out. Thankfully, it got down to the 70s tonight, and with a fan in the window the cooking experience was quite pleasant.
The recipe called for a chiffonade cut, which I had only heard mentioned before but had never actually attempted. Kitchen Daily had this great tutorial, which made the chiffonade cut feel more manageable. It involved making lots of adorable piles of broccoli rabe leaves and cutting them into careful, even-sized strips.
The grocery store only had olives with pits, so I used a handy trick Brooklyn Larder showed me a few months ago. I put the olive on a cutting board, placed the palm of my hand on it, and pressed down as hard as I could. When I removed my hand, the pit was exposed and easy to remove. The finished product is a little messy looking but still delicious.
The finished product was light and nutritious. This is my new go-to pizza recipe.
Pizza with Broccoli Raab and Roasted Onions
adapted, slightly, from Smitten Kitchen and Chez Panisse Vegetables
1 medium yellow onion
Salt and pepper
1 bunch broccoli raaab
1 clove garlic
1 pinch red pepper flakes
Pizza dough for one recipe (Basic Pizza Dough recipe here)
16 nicoise olives, pitted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Roast the Onions: Dice the onions, and toss them in a small, ovenproof saute pan with a pinch of salt and enough olive oil to cover them lightly. Add the leaves of the thyme (I didn't have this, so I left it out). Put the pan in the oven to roast, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked and golden, about 30 minutes.
Prepare the Broccoli Raab: While the onion is roasting, wash and drain the broccoli raab. A salad spinner is particularly useful for this. Just rinsing mine in the sink wasn't enough to get rid of the dirt. Pull off all the leaves and flowers. Stack them neatly, and cut them using a coarse chiffonade cut. There should be about two cups.
Peel and finely chop the garlic. Heat a large saute pan over high heat, and coat it with olive oil. Add the broccoli raab, season it with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, and fry over high heat until the broccoli raab is tender (this took about 2 minutes for me). Add the garlic and fry, tossing the mixture together for a few seconds.
Top the Pizza: When the onions are done, take them out of the oven and turn up the heat to 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, make sure it is in the oven. IDEALLY, your pizza stone should preheat for at least an hour.
Lightly flour the countertop and stretch the pizza dough to a 12- to 14-inch disk of pizza dough. Slide it onto a floured pizza peel or onto the back of a baking sheet. Lightly brush the dough with olive oil, leaving 1/2-inch boarder dry. Evenly sprinkle the cheese over the oiled surface. Spread the onions over, and top with broccoli raab and the olives. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon olive oil over the pizza.
Bake: Slide the pizza onto the preheated stone in the oven, and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until the crust is brown and crisp. Remove the pizza from the oven, sprinkle a few drops of lemon juice over the pizza, cut and serve!