Salad in a Pizza Dough Boat

My neighbor Claudio Romano is from Bari, Italy, and he’s one of the best chefs I know. Before he retired, he owned two highly successful restaurants, and Frank and I loved eating at them. And we always loved his salads, especially the one he made for me one evening during the middle of summer when his gardens were bursting with gorgeous tomatoes, lettuces, and radishes. He’s also an amazing gardener! This is my interpretation of his glorious salad. It’s served over what I affectionately refer to a “pizza boat” because you first bake plain pizza dough and after you bake it, you cut it in half lengthwise and bake it again to crisp it, and the resulting shape looks like a boat.

Ingredients

Pizza Dough Boat

  • 2 tablespoons coarse cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour, or more for rolling the pizza dough
  • ½ pound chilled pizza dough (homemade or store-bought)

Salad

  • 12 cups organic mixed greens
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into cubes, including juices
  • 2 scallions, white part and 3 inches green, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 1 rib celery, thinly sliced
  • ½ large bell pepper (orange, red, green, or yellow), seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 pepperoncini peppers (pickled peppers; sold in jars in the supermarket), drained and cut in half lengthwise
  • 8-10 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced as thin as possible
  • 18 pitted oil-cured black olives, cut in half lengthwise
  • 4 canned artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 4 ounces provolone or ricotta salata cheese, cut into small cubes

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt and pepper

Method

  1. To prepare the pizza dough boat, position one oven rack in the lowest position and one rack in the highest position. If you are using a pizza stone, place on the bottom rack. If you are not using a pizza stone, line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 500°F. Scatter the cornmeal evenly over a pizza peel or a large wooden cutting board, about 12 by 20 inches. Scatter the flour evenly on a counter top. Holding one end of the dough, slap the dough on the floured counter top a few times to stretch it a bit. Coat both sides of the dough with the flour on the counter.
  2. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a large, thin oval, about 12 by 20 inches. Carefully transfer the oval to the cornmeal-coated pizza peel, then slide the dough onto the hot pizza stone. If you are not using a pizza stone, transfer the oval to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, until the dough puffs up and is golden brown on the underside. Carefully remove the baked pizza dough boat from the oven and set it on a cutting board. Using a long, sharp knife, carefully slice open the pizza dough, horizontally to create two equal ovals. Carefully transfer one oval cut side down on the pizza stone and the other one directly on the upper oven rack. Bake for about 1-2 minutes, until both sides are golden brown and crisp. Set each oval on a large plate, cut side up.
  3. To prepare the salad, place the mixed greens, radishes tomatoes and juices, scallions, celery, peppers, basil leaves, garlic, olives, artichoke hearts, and cheese in a bowl. Using two wooden spoons, toss to combine.
  4. To prepare the dressing, combine the oil and vinegar in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine, then taste for seasoning. Pour over the salad, using two wooden spoons to toss until coated.
  5. To assemble the dish, divide the tossed salad evenly on each pizza dough boat. Using a sharp knife, cut each oval into thirds. Serve immediately.

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