Southern Love+ Italian Cuisine=Pure Heaven
This dish combines my love for both Southern and Italian cuisine, and, not to mention, it was made by complete happenstance. I was making fried okra as a snack one day (don’t judge me) and I was prepping pizza dough for dinner as well. I glanced at my working station and saw fresh dough, heirloom tomatoes and fried okra. Could this really work? Allowing my curiosity to wonder, I rolled out the dough, laid fresh tomatoes on the surface and dotted handmade mozzarella underneath the orbs. I let the ingredients bubble for a few minutes in the oven and then threw the fried okra on the pizza. What a sensation! The creamy cheese contrasted with the crunchy okra while the tomatoes added a level of lightness and freshness that the dish craved. This pizza combines seasonal Southern ingredients with Italian tradition. Boun appetito, ya’ll!
Recipe: Makes 4 Individual Pizzas
4 Portions of pizza dough (recipe below)
Pizza sauce (recipe below)
2 tomatoes, sliced into rounds
8 ounces of fresh mozzarella
1 serving of fried okra, cut at an angle (recipe below)
Fresh chopped basil and parsley, for garnish
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, for serving
To make the pizza:
Preheat oven to 5000 with a pizza stone or cookie sheet in the oven (Make sure that your oven is clean or else the fire department might be inviting themselves over for dinner). Let the stone/sheet preheat for at least 45 minutes in the oven.
On a piece of aluminum foil dusted with flour, roll out 1 portion of dough. Create a thin layer of sauce, place tomato rounds on the pizza and place small, marble-sized pieces of mozzarella underneath the tomatoes. Place in oven for 10 minutes. Scatter the fried okra pieces on top of the pizza and season with herbs, salt and pepper. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Pizza Dough: Makes 8 Individual Pizzas
2 packages of Rapid Rise yeast
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 cups of warm water
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of salt
6 cups of bread flour
Combine yeast, sugar and water in a mixing bowl fitted with the dough hook. Let the yeast bubble and puff up for about 5 minutes. Add the salt and olive oil. Mix on low. Add 3 cups of flour and mix the flour into the dough. Add the other half of the flour and continue mixing on a low speed until the dough forms into a ball. Set the dough in a large bowl covered in olive oil. Place a kitchen towel over the bowl and let rise in a warm spot for an hour.
Once the dough has risen, punch the dough down and place on a cutting board. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and place in a gallon sized freezer bag. Place in freezer until ready to use.
2 Tbs. of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
1 28 oz. can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed
1 pinch of sugar
1 sprig of basil, leaves only
Salt and pepper to taste
In a sauté pan on medium temperature, heat olive oil. Add sliced garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds or just until golden. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add sugar. Bring to slight boil and let simmer for 30 minutes. Take off heat and add basil leaves. Set aside.
2 cups of okra, washed
2 cups of buttermilk
1 cup of cornmeal
¼ cup of all-purpose flour
1 pinch of cayenne
Vegetable oil (for frying)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place at least 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large skillet and allow the oil to reach 350o.
Pick through the okra, any okra smaller than the size of your pinky, leave whole. Cut any larger than the size of your pinky in half and at an angle. In a bowl, combine the buttermilk and okra. Let sit for at least 5 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the cornmeal mixture. Combine cornmeal, flour, cayenne, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Stir ingredients together with a fork. Make sure that you put a good amount of seasoning in at this point, don’t be stingy. Drain the okra from the buttermilk and gently roll the okra in the cornmeal mixture. Shake off any excess breading. Carefully place the okra in the hot oil. Let the okra brown on both sides and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Sprinkle with more salt. Use immediately.