So I’ve pretty much been dreaming about this pizza since Jessica, over at How Sweet It Is, posted it a few weeks ago. It’s a pizza with a cream base (no tomato sauce) and….are you ready for this?….it had LEMONS on it. That’s right, people. LEMONS.
My first thought was, “WHAT was she thinking?!” but was followed almost immediately by, “I think I want that“. I was so conflicted! I like lemons (especially those Meyers) but nothing has ever, ever given me the urge to cook a lemon and then eat it. Rind and all. But I’ve never tried a recipe of hers without absolutely loving it. To be totally honest, sometimes I have to give myself a break from her recipes because they’re just so darn good that I have to stop and really relish in the tastiness for awhile before moving on to the next thing. That being said, this pizza would not leave my mind, so this past weekend I knew it finally needed to happen. I kid you not, I bought about 6 Meyer lemons and used them in random ways before I actually had the guts to try this. So believe me…I was probably making the same face you’re making right now.
I will say this… I’ve only made this once now, so I know I’m not an expert (yet), but I wouldn’t recommend making this with regular lemons. Meyer lemons have a sweeter, more citrusy flavor and a much softer skin. My big fear was that I would bite into the lemon and it would taste like….well….lemon rind, and I wasn’t excited about that. But the Meyer lemons softened so much that you really just get the essence of the flavor when you bite into it. I promise – you don’t even realize that you’re eating a whole lemon!
Admission of guilt: I don’t make my own pizza crust. I buy it fresh from Whole Foods and pay way too much for it. For those of you out there with children at home, who work two jobs and write a blog and still manage to make things like pizza crust from scratch, I applaud you. Seriously. [I just did a little clap in the air]. What can I say? I just don’t have time for that level of detail (at least not during the week). This girl has to save a little energy to open a wine bottle, you know?
The great thing about this pizza is that it looks and sounds super gourmet – “Tonight’s special is a Meyer Lemon Pizza with a creamy spinach mascarpone base, studded with goat cheese and bacon” – but it was really easy to make! If you use a pre-made pizza crust, it really takes no time at all to assemble. Other than cooking your bacon (which I recommend doing in the oven), the only heating necessary is to wilt the spinach. While my bacon cooked, I made my creamy spinach mixture, sliced my lemons, let my dough rest and I still had time to pour a glass of wine. WINNING!
CREAMY MEYER LEMON PIZZA
Adapted from How Sweet It Is
Fresh Whole Wheat Pizza Dough, or use your favorite dough recipe – (**see list below for some more options)
garlic, 4 cloves – minced
6 oz fresh spinach
salt & pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 tbsp mascarpone cheese
1 tbsp Parmesan – freshly grated (keep it handy for later)
4-5 slices cooked bacon – chopped (*see below for instruction on cooking bacon in the oven)
6 oz soft goat cheese
1 Meyer lemon – sliced very thin, seeds removed
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1. Roughly shape your pizza dough on a cookie sheet, or pizza stone if you’re fancy. If it won’t take the shape or springs back every time you try, let it “rest” for a few minutes, then come back and try again. This gives the gluten in the dough a chance to relax a little, and it will be easier to form the second time. This method also works on girlfriends, wives, bosses and customer service representatives.
2. Make your creamy spinach base: In a skillet, heat about 1-2 tbsp olive oil over med-low heat. Add garlic. Cook for one minute then add spinach. Toss your spinach to coat it as it wilts. Once spinach is wilted (about 3-5 minutes), stir in mascarpone and Parmesan until creamy. Add nutmeg and season with salt & pepper. Stir well, then remove from heat and set aside.
3. Brush pizza dough with about 1 tbsp olive oil, then even distribute creamy spinach mixture over the top. Place chopped bacon pieces on next, then crumble or “dot” goat cheese all over the pizza. Finally, layer on the thin slices of lemon and grate a fresh sprinkling of Parmesan over the top.
4. Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until crust and cheese is golden. Let cool for just a minute or two before slicing, then ENJOY!
*TO COOK BACON IN THE OVEN: Lay strips out on a wire cooling rack so they don’t overlap. Place the rack in a jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet that has a lip around the edge) to catch the grease. Cook for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees, or until fully cooked. NOTE: You don’t need to get it too crisp in this case, since it’s going back in the oven on the pizza.
**PIZZA DOUGH NOTES: If you have the time and want to try making your own crust, I hear it’s actually not that difficult. The recipe I adapted this from included a recipe for Garlic Bread Pizza Crust. You could also try this Honey Whole Wheat recipe, or Smitten Kitchen’s Really Simple Pizza Dough.