Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza
Everyone knows pizza-making is fun. But it’s also fantastically satisfying. With this classic recipe, you’ll have great dough nailed in no time. Here, two sheep’s milk cheeses paired with arugula and prosciutto is a show-stopper. And fresh chile oil? That’s what makes it clear that you’re serious. Making pizza is best as a group activity. So call the gang over and tell the cousins to bring their friends. Or put your kids to work. And save us a slice.
See Cook’s Notes for cheese selection and making dough.
for the dough
In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water; let stand until the yeast is foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. (If the yeast does not become foamy, discard it and start over with new yeast.) Stir until the yeast dissolves.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture. Using your hands, stir until dough forms, then knead the dough in the bowl until the flour is fully incorporated. Transfer the dough to a very lightly floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes, or until it forms a smooth ball. (Don’t skimp on kneading time! See Cook’s Notes.)
Lightly oil a large bowl. Form the dough into a ball, put it in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm spot until the dough is doubled in size, about 1½ hours.
Flatten the dough with your fist, then divide it into 4 equal pieces. Shape the pieces into balls and place on a lightly floured surface. Lightly dust the tops with flour. Cover the dough balls with a barely damp cloth. Let stand until the dough has risen again and a dent remains in the surface of the dough (not springing back) when it’s poked with a finger, about 30 minutes.
Position a rack in the lowest level of the oven. Heat the oven to its maximum temperature (up to 550ºF).
Line a baking sheet with parchment.
for the chile oil
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, fresh chile, dried red pepper flakes and salt.
for the pizzas
Finely grate about half of the Pecorino cheese. On a very lightly floured surface, use your fingers to press and “dimple” 1 dough ball to a circular shape. Drape the circle over your closed fists, keeping your thumbs tucked in. Move your hands back and forth, very gently tugging and stretching the dough outward, and gently turning as you go. For the final stretch, hold the dough between your fingers and let gravity stretch it a little further until the dough is 9- to 10-inches in diameter.
Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Working quickly, brush the center of the dough with a little olive oil, then dollop with a quarter of the ricotta. Sprinkle with a quarter of the grated Pecorino, a quarter of the garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Bake 6 to 10 minutes, or until the crust is golden at the edges and bottom.
When the pizza is close to ready, in a small bowl, toss together 1 cup of the arugula, 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of the olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Transfer the pizza to a large cutting board. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the chile oil, then top with the dressed arugula and a quarter of the prosciutto. Use a vegetable peeler to shave shards of Pecorino off the remaining block over the top. Drizzle with more chile oil to taste, then cut the pizza into wedges and serve. Repeat with the remaining dough and topping ingredients.
First, a note about cheeses: Fresh sheep’s milk ricotta is often sold by the pound at cheese shops and Italian markets. Conventional store-bought cow’s milk ricotta, often sold in 15-ounce containers, can be substituted (it’s fine to have one less ounce) in this recipe. Young Pecorino Toscano (not to be confused with it’s saltier cousin, Pecorino Romano) is a firm, delicately flavored sheep’s milk cheese with a gentle, sweet tang. You might find it plain, or with peppercorns or truffles. Use whichever you like. If you can’t find this cheese, substitute Parmigiano-Reggiano. While these two cheeses are very different, they both play well with the ingredients in this pizza.
Now let’s have a quick chat about dough. To test the temperature of your water, use an instant-read thermometer. When dusting with flour, keep it as light as possible; the less flour you add, the more tender your crust will be. Don’t skimp on kneading time; kneading develops gluten in the dough, and gluten provides structure and body.