Growing up in the Napa Valley was a beautiful place, but quite boring for a teenager. Once we got our driver's licenses like most other teenagers we started driving into "the city". We'd go to San Francisco a lot, as well as Marin County and Berkeley. In Berkeley I fell in love with deep dish pizza. Having never been to Chicago at that point I didn't know it was that popular or delicious, but Zachary's Pizza changed my life. It's still ranked as the Best Pizza in the Bay Area, and if you ever go to NoCal be sure to check this spot out. The stuffed spinach and mushroom is their signature, and worth the 45 minute wait once you place your order.
About this time I really started to get into cooking too. As high schoolers my mom made my brother and I cook one family dinner a week. We only had one cookbook that I can remember (a Pillsbury Classic) and one well worn recipe card box. After making some of my mom's recipes, I wanted to try some new things. So I went to the public library and went to the cookbook section. It was there that I found a cookbook with a recipe for stuffed pizza! I hand copied the recipe, came home and made it and it actually turned out OK (the sauce and filling were perfect, but my homemade pizza crust was a little tough). Over the years I have perfected it, and tonight I made it with a whole wheat crust for the first time. I have always made a scratch crust which takes a long time, but I've found the Trader Joe's pizza dough is quite good. So I saved some time on dough, used organic produce and made this fabulous pizza.
Stuffed Spinach and Mushroom Pizza
1 pkg. Trader Joe's whole wheat pizza dough
1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes, peeled
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil (fresh really makes the difference here)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 clove of garlic, crushed and minced
1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
3 oz. fresh spinach leaves, washed, dried with stems removed and roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 1/2 cups freshly grated mozzarella cheese (grating your own cheese makes a difference too)
To start, remove pizza dough from package and set out to rest on floured surface for 20 minutes.
To make sauce, drain liquid from tomatoes and crush by hand. Place in medium sized bowl, and add remaining ingredients. Stir and set aside.
In separate large bowl, combine chopped spinach leaves, sliced mushrooms and shredded mozzarella cheese. Toss by hand to make sure well mixed.
Once ready to assemble the pizza, pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Using a nine inch shallow cake pan, or an 8 inch deep cake pan, spray well with olive oil. Cut dough into two pieces, one piece being 1/4 and the other being 3/4 of the dough. Take the larger piece and either roll out with a rolling pin, or hand stretch and toss until 2 inches larger than your cake pan. Place dough over the cake pan, and secure up over the sides to hold up. Fill with all spinach, mushroom and cheese mixture. Roll out small piece of dough until just the size of the pan and place on top. Crimp the pieces together, and make slits on top crust. It's OK if the center is higher than the sides, once the spinach wilts it will level out.
Remove from oven and let rest for a couple of minutes. Remove whole pizza from pan and place on large cutting board. Cut with serrated knife and serve while hot. ENJOY!