Broccolini Chicken Pizza

brocollinipizza

It was not until recently that I became obsessed with adding greens onto my pizza. I grew up with pizza consisting of cheese, pepperoni and sauce–no deterring from the norm. However, greens add a nutritional note to your dishes without unnecessary calories and pair well with a variety of ingredients. For instance, broccolini chicken pizza is a sweet and savory combination. The sweet, citrus ricotta paired with the vibrant greens and mouthwatering chicken brings heavenly flavors to my tummy. The recipe shows me that greens and creativity bring delicious meals to the table.

Broccolini is a green vegetable similar to broccoli but with smaller florets and longer, thinner stalks. It is a hybrid of broccoli and kai-lan, Chinese broccoli, developed by the Sakata Seed Company of Yokohama, Japan. Broccolini is also known as asparation, asparations, bimi, broccoletti, broccolette and tenderstem. The entire vegetable is consumable, including theoccasional yellow flower. Common cooking methods include sauteeing, steaming, boiling and stir-frying. Its flavor is sweet, with notes of both broccoli and asparagus, although it is not closely related to the latter. Nutritionally, it is high in vitamin C and contains vitamin A, calcium and iron.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used broccolini. It is one of my favorite vegetables, but it can be hard to find in grocery stores. Take advantage while you can!
  2. I nixed the lemon zest because I had bottled lemon juice only. The zest helps the acidity and adds a fresh note to the pizza.
  3. I used a pre-made crust and adjusted the cooking times; however, soon after I found out that Trader Joe’s has whole-wheat pizza dough. (Shout out to Charlie Mai for letting me know it existed!)brocollinipizza2
  4. I suggest nixing the oil in half. I felt the oiled pizza crust made it soggy and was unnecessary fat in your diet. Save those calories for something you really want–like dessert…heehee.
  5. Ricotta is thick and grainy. Mixing it with lemon juice helps soften the cheese, and it becomes similar in texture to pesto.
  6. I cleaned my chicken breast of the fatty deposits and chopped them evenly. You need the pieces small enough to cook through without overcooking your broccolini.
  7. Pile the toppings onto the crust; I had enough topping to make two pizzas.
  8. Baking the pizza with the toppings facilitates the process of creating an adhesion between ingredients and melting the ricotta.
  9. I suggest cooking the chicken until just about done on the stovetop. This method will allow the chicken to continue cooking while preparing the pizza and again in the oven without overcooking it creating a dry, juiceless texture.

The topping alone contains vast amounts of flavor. Adding those flavors to the top of a delicious bread and we have a winner. The pizza adds a variety to your daily routine. You can still enjoy the normalcy of pizza with a twist. Incorporating broccolini onto circular bread is a great way to trick little ones, or yourself, into eating their greens.

Leave a comment with your favorite pizza recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

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Calzone

calzone3

Today, calzones are a easily identified in cuisines. It is a folded pizza or turnover shaped like a half-moon, or in my case any shape. Typically calzones are stuffed with tomato, mozzarella, sauces and other pizza toppings. This calzones is a step in a more sophisticated design. The calzone maintains the integrity of original calzones mixing mozzarella and ricotta while keeping nutrition in consideration with leaner meats and spinach power.

Ricotta–literally meaning recooked–uses whey, the liquid that remains after straining curds when making cheese. Ricotta curds are creamy white in appearance and slightly sweet in taste. In this form, ricotta is somewhat similar in texture to some cottage cheese variants, though considerably lighter. Like mascarpone in northern-Italian cuisine, ricotta is a favorite component of many Italian desserts, such as cheesecakes and cannoli. There are also a variety of different cookies that include ricotta as an ingredient. Ricotta can be beaten smooth and mixed with condiments–such as sugar, cinnamon, orange flower water, strawberries and occasionally chocolate shavings–and served as a dessert. This basic combination features prominently as the filling of the crunchy tubular shell of the Sicilian cannoli. Combined with eggs and cooked grains and baked firm, ricotta is a main ingredient in Neapolitan pastiera, one of Italy’s many “Easter pies”. Additionally, ricotta is commonly used in pasta, calzones, pizza, manicotti, lasagna and ravioli. It makes an appropriate substitute for mayonnaise in traditional egg or tuna salad and as a sauce thickener. It is often used as a substitute for paneer in the Indian dessert known as
Ras Malai.

calzone

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used Jenni-O turkey sausage. My grocery store rarely has chicken sausage. You can use either hot or sweet sausage.
  2. If you use sweet sausage, I suggest adding red pepper flakes to give the dish some spice.
  3. Removing the casing will allow for the meat to crumble, and you will be free of that slimy, gross casing.
  4. Use the full four cups of spinach because it will reduce down tremendously in size.
  5. Using a mix of mozzarella and ricotta cheese blends the calzones well. The mozzarella bonds the ingredients and the ricotta creates a savory element.
  6. I used a mix of oregano, dried onion, dried garlic and parsley in place of the Italian seasoning. This process allowed me to modify the seasoning to my desire.
  7. My friend, Charlie Mai, told us about Trader Joe’s whole wheat crust. Apparently, after searching relentlessly, they are the only ones that have whole-wheat crust. It is premade and only needs to be rolled out which is a great time saver. Their crust have a great flavor and consistency, I highly suggest paying a little more to accomplish such flavors.calzone2
  8. I used two packages of pizza dough, filling three with a cheese only mixture. You can probably use just one package and be sure to roll the dough out thin enough to make five servings.
  9. Slicing the top of the calzones will allow heat to penetrate the ingredients inside and cook the dough all the way through. Additionally, it is the traditional look
    of calzones.
  10. I suggest using Pam in place of oil to cook the sausage, if and only if, you are using turkey sausage. Chicken sausage will need that extra grease to cook and create flavor. Turkey sausage is naturally greasy, so oil will slow the cooking process down.
  11. I suggest using marinara sauce for dipping. I created my own sauce with seasoning (parsley, dried onion, red pepper flakes, black pepper, oregano and garlic) and
    tomato sauce.

Like most of the entrees I have experimented with, the calzone is easily made for any pallet. Combine meat, cheese and a vegetable of choice to create a simple and delicious meal for family and friends. Mix and match with sweet or savory ingredients for a lunch, dinner or dessert. The easy and simplicity of this meal combined with the flavor make it one for
the books.

Leave a comment with your favorite pizza recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.