This is how I described this meal to Ross [picture the proud, self-indulgent grin of a 4th grader bringing home an A on a math test]: "It's pizza with homemade Indian-spiced marinara, curried spinach and chickpeas, and fresh ricotta!"
Ross' response [picture a blank stare]: "Were you speaking English just then?" [Me: *shakes head.*]
When he finally took a bite, he exclaimed, "Whoa! This is like...Indian pizza! I get it!" He has seen the light! *ANGELS SINGING ON HIGH* After another bite: "It tastes just like Indian food...only, on a pizza." Wonders never cease. Actually, I was thrilled that he "got" the "concept" behind this Meatless Monday meal. Not that it was on a Moto-esque level or anything. But for someone who doesn't do a lot of fusion food (unlike one of my favorite bloggers), I was sort of proud of myself.
Before I go handing out my very own James Beard award, I should remind us all that anything - anything - tastes good on a pizza. And lest you think it's a completely original idea, let me admit now, publicly, that it was inspired by - of all things - something I saw on a Bobby Flay show, and also by the lone vegetarian dish I had while dining at the porktastic restaurant The Publican.
Anyway, it was good. The flavors in the marinara and the toppings melded beautifully, and the ricotta added a rich counterpoint to the bold flavors. One note: I wouldn't skip the cilantro and peppers on top - their brightness and crunch really lighten up the tastebud flavor assault.
1 fresh ball of pizza dough
cornmeal for dusting
1 batch Indian marinara (recipe follows)
~1.5 cups fresh ricotta cheese
olive or canola oil
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large bag baby spinach leaves, steamed then squeezed dry, roughly chopped
several dashes curry powder
salt and pepper
fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish
1/2 thinly sliced fresh finger pepper (optional), for garnish
1 medium onion, diced
1 finger (or serrano) pepper, sliced, with all seeds
1 large can whole peeled plum tomatoes and all juices
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
handful cilantro, chopped
a few dashes cumin
1 cinnamon stick
a few dashes allspice
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
Make the marinara: Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Cook the onion and finger pepper until beginning to soften. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. Use an immersion blender to make it smooth (you can skip this step and have chunkier sauce). Turn off heat and set aside until ready to use.
In a skillet, heat about 1 T. olive oil. Cook the chickpeas, seasoning with salt, pepper, and curry powder, for a few minutes, until chickpeas are hot and coated evenly with the spices. Remove the chickpeas and set aside. In the same pan (don't bother wiping it out), put a little more oil and the squeezed-dry spinach in the pan, and season with salt, pepper, and curry powder. Cook until hot and spices are evenly distributed.
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Dust a little flour on your work surface and roll out the dough until desired thinness (I think thinner is better, but that's just me). Spread a little cornmeal over your pizza stone or baking sheet. Place the dough on top. Brush with a little olive oil. Spread the chickpeas and spinach over the dough evenly. Place dollops of fresh ricotta enenly around the dough. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the whole thing. Top it all with dollops of the marinara.
Bake until dough is crisp and bown on the edges and ricotta is beginning to brown in places. Remove from the oven and cut into slices. Top slices with a little fresh cilantro and sliced finger peppers. Serve and enjoy!