And then I suddenly realized that summer really is almost over.
And I’m not at all ready.
It started with all the back to school this and that – advertisements for school supplies, articles on packing more exciting school lunches. Then catalogues started coming that were filled with boots and flannels and corduroy. I ignored them, laughingly thinking to myself, “good gracious, they do start trying to sell the next season early. It’s still midsummer!”
But then I noticed that September basically starts next week. Next week! Oh mercy me. Make it stop!
This may be the first time in my life I’m not feeling completely ready for fall by the time August is drawing to a close. Fall is my spirit season (you know, like a spirit animal, but a season). Everything about it, the colors, the temperature, the feel of the air, resonates at the same pitch as my being. And I always loved going back to school because I was-am-and-shall-always-be a total nerd.
But, this year feels different. For one thing, summer didn’t actually get its start here this year until July, which means we really should get an extra month tacked onto the other side, don’t you think? It would only be fair. And also, there was just so. much. to get done this summer. Soooo much to get done before September in the way of making and building and certifying and designing and editing and gestating and preparing and tying up loose threads and I would really like just one more month to take care of all of that. Just one more month! Um, and then maybe one more extra month to have a little time for play. If anyone knows the being who’s in charge of orchestrating these types of things – you know, the number of hours in a day and days in a month sort of thing – could you perhaps relay that request to them?
Also, if fall chooses to descend too soon, we are going to end up with more green tomatoes than any one could possibly know what to do with. Those bad boys better hurry up and ripen.
In the meantime, I suppose I’ll do my best to cling to August with dinners out of doors and by guzzling peaches. Too many peaches is a nonsensical statement if it is August. And at least some of those peaches should go onto pizza.
I do know that peach and goat cheese pizza is far, far from being a new idea at this point. I think the first time I saw it was 5 or so years ago. I made it then and loved it, and I still love it now. Because here’s the thing, ideas don’t always have to be new if they’re really, really good. And that is why I’m writing about an extremely non-novel pizza. Just in case you haven’t tried a version of it. Or in case you have, but you haven’t gotten to it yet this summer, or in case maybe need the impetus to bake just one more.
I made one because I saw one on instagram – how with the times and internet savvy is that, woo! Maybe I’m only 90% luddite. Anyhow, Tracy of the blog Shutterbean posted a picture of a peach pizza with goat cheese, red onions, corn, and arugula, and instantly it became all that I wanted to make for dinner perhaps even every day for the remainder of the month. So, I ran and grabbed the ingredients, made my favorite pizza dough, and concocted the self-same meal, minus the corn because we didn’t have any corn.
The peaches become over the top sweet and velvety as they bake on the pizzas, but the bite of red onion and the tang of the chevre bring them back toward savory, back into dinner territory. Sweet, syrupy balsamic tangles with peppery arugula in a similar battle of wills. Sweet-savory, sweet-savory, they layer on each other into a happily complex set of flavors that pull together just perfectly with a good sprinkling of sea salt. Some lacy thin, meltingly fatty slices of prosciutto would also do the trick.
However you make it happen, do make it happen. Seize August, eat peaches! On pizza.
- 1 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1⅓ cup warm water (just gently warm to the touch, not hot)
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3-4 cups bread flour
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 peaches, pitted and cut into eighths
- 8 oz. chevre (soft goat cheese)
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 4 cups arugula
- sea salt
- Make the pizza dough early in the morning of the day you want to eat the pizza. Or make it the night before. Combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water in the bowl of a standing mixer with a bread hook (or in a large mixing bowl, if you're going to knead by hand). Let it sit for about 5 minutes until the yeast has started to become foamy.
- Add 3 cups of the flour, stir until it's just sort of mixed together, then let it sit for 10-20 minutes to autolyse (this step is optional, but it helps develop the gluten). Next, add the salt and the olive oil and start the mixer stirring on low speed (or squeeze the olive oil and salt in using your hands, until worked into the dough). Knead the dough with the bread hook, or by hand on a lightly floured surface, for 5 minutes. Add just enough extra flour so that the texture of the dough is lightly tacky, but not completely sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, put in the fridge and let rise for 8-12 hours. It should double or even triple in size.
- When ready to bake the pizza, heat your oven to 500F, preferably with a pizza stone in it if you have one. Take out your pizza dough and divide it in half. On a well floured surface, stretch each half of the dough into an approximately 12-inch circle (or rectangle, as the case may be), then let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
- While the dough is resting, toss the sliced red onion with the balsamic vinegar in a large bowl. Let this sit for 10-15 minutes to lightly pickle the onions. Then, gently stir in the peach slices.
- When the dough has finished resting, stretch each half further into a circle as thin as you can make it without breaking the dough - if the dough does tear, just press it back together. Transfer each stretched piece of dough to a parchment lined baking sheet or a pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal.
- Top each of the pizzas with half of the peaches and onions, making sure to leave the remaining balsamic vinegar in the bowl because you're going to toss the arugula in there. Break the chevre into small chunks and scatter half of it evenly over each of the pizzas. Sprinkle the pizzas well with sea salt.
- Bake each pizza one at a time, either directly on the pizza stone or on the baking sheet you have it on, in the hot oven until the crust is nice and golden brown (mine took only about 8 minutes, but the time depends on how thin your dough winds up being).
- While the pizzas are baking toss the arugula with the remaining vinegar and the 1 Tbs. olive oil plus a pinch of salt. After each pizza comes out of the oven, top it with half of the arugula. The arugula should wilt a bit with the heat.
- Let the pizzas cool at least 5 minutes before slicing, then slice and serve.