Monday, March 27, 2017

Leek, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Pizza

Even though I cook for a living, just like everyone else I find it can be difficult to maintain the inspiration necessary to put an evening meal on the table day in and day out. As part of the ongoing effort, I have made a habit of purchasing vegetables I love even if I have no specific use for them in mind. Having a few versatile vegetables at the ready to combine with my pantry of staples can provide the boost I need. It also speeds up the dinner making process (no last minute trips to the store...) and adds a disincentive for giving up and just going out for dinner (I really hate wasting food). During the winter months, fresh items (as opposed to storage items like potatoes, root vegetables and squash) on this list include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, chard, mushrooms and cauliflower.

I love leeks, but for some reason they have never been on this list. Up until about a month ago I usually only purchased leeks when I had a specific plan for them. When I finally managed to motivate myself to attend the winter farmers' market on the first weekend of March of this year, I decided to pick some up. As always, I was beguiled by something fresh, local and beautiful. But more than that, I wanted to support the growers who had made the effort to come to the market with their more limited winter offerings. And I was so glad I got them.  That first bunch became a simple and classic Potato Leek soup...something I haven't had in years and that turned out to be just the thing for a late winter evening. Because I enjoyed having them around so much, when I went to the next market I picked up another bunch. They went into the pizza I'm posting today.

If I hadn't had the leeks on hand, it's possible I would never have gotten around to making this particular pizza (which would have been a shame). I might have pinned it....or made a mental note to get leeks.... But like so many recipes I see—and truly want to try—it might have just slipped off of my radar entirely. On that afternoon though, when I happened across this delicious looking pizza on Twitter, I paused for a closer look because I knew I had the leeks....which gave the recipe immediate dinner potential.

As I looked with more attention at the recipe, I soon realized that I had everything I needed to make it. I always keep bacon (and pancetta...which would have been delicious, too) around...and I had just enough goat cheese (left from Darina Allen's Goat Cheese Soufflé that I made for St. Patrick's Day) to crumble over the top. Goat cheese is not what the original recipe called for...but I love the way tangy goat cheese draws out the mildly acidic tang of leeks. (I also had some thyme left from that soufflé...which was also not in the original recipe but just so happens to be fantastic with leeks, mushrooms and goat cheese...)

The pizza was delicious...and I will make it again. But more importantly, I will be adding leeks to my list of "just because" winter vegetables. Although, I don't know if there will be any at the market the next time I go..... It is now officially spring (which makes me very happy), and the market offerings will obviously be changing with the season. But next fall...when the supply of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, summer squash and other items that make up my regular late summer stash comes to an end, I will remember the leeks...and look forward to enjoying them as part of my pantry all winter long. 

Leek, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Pizza

2 slices bacon (about 2 1/2 oz), cut cross-wise in 1/4-inch strips
2 medium or 1 large leek (see note), white and pale green portions only, halved, cut cross-wise into 1/3-inch half rings and thoroughly rinsed to remove all grit
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. minced fresh thyme
Salt & pepper
1 T. olive oil, plus more for brushing
1/2 T. butter
8 oz. crimini or button mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 ball of pizza dough (see below), rested
3 oz. Dubliner cheese (see note), coarsely grated
2 oz. Goat cheese (I used an aged Bûcheron, but a soft Montrachet-style is fine), crumbled

Render the bacon in a medium sauté pan set over low heat, stirring occasionally. When the bacon is crisp, transfer it to a plate using a slotted spoon.

Return the pan to medium heat and add the leeks, garlic and thyme along with a pinch of salt. When the leeks start to sizzle, reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook until the leeks are just tender—5 to 10 minutes, depending on the age and size of the leeks. It's ok if the leeks still have texture...they just shouldn't be crunchy. Uncover. If there is any liquid left in the pan, increase the heat until it has been absorbed or has evaporated. Taste and correct the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside. 

While the leeks cook, warm the olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan set over medium high heat. When the butter melts and the foam subsides, add the mushrooms. Saut
é the mushrooms until browned and tender—about five minutes—regulating the heat as necessary to maintain an active sizzle without burning or scorching the mushrooms. Remove from the heat and season. Add the bacon and mushrooms to the finished leeks and toss to combine.

Build the pizza: On a lightly floured surface, roll or stretch the dough out into a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a pizza pan, baking sheet or pizza peel that has been dusted with semolina (or flour...or cornmeal). Spread a thin layer of oil over the crust. Scatter with the Dubliner, followed by the topping mixture, followed by the goat cheese.

If using a pizza pan or baking sheet, place the pizza in the pan on a pre-heated pizza stone in a pre-heated 500° oven. Bake until the crust is golden brown on the bottom and the cheese is bubbling, about 12 to 15 minutes. To insure a crisp crust, slide the pizza off of the pan and directly onto the pizza stone as soon as the crust is set (after 4 or 5 minutes). 

If using a peel, slide the pizza directly onto the preheated baking stone. Bake until the crust is golden brown on the bottom and the cheese is bubbling—about 8 to 10 minutes.

When the pizza is done, transfer to a cutting board and cut into wedges and serve.


  • I used very small leeks from my farmers' market that were sold by the bunch and I used the whole bunch. You should have about 1 1/3 cup of prepared leeks for this recipe 
  • I love the nutty taste of Dubliner and I always have it on hand. It is a great snacking and melting cheese.  There are other good meltig cheeses that would work just as well. A good, sharp Cheddar...Fontina...low-moisture Mozzarella...etc. 
(Recipe adapted from Fox & Briar)
1/2 cup (115 g.) warm water (100º-110º)
1 1/8 t. instant or active dry yeast
160 to 180 grams (1 1/3 to 1 1/2 c.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 t. salt
1 T. olive oil

Place the water and yeast in a small bowl and let sit until the yeast has dissolved. Place 160 grams (1 1/3 cups) of the flour and salt in the food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse to blend. Add the oil and yeast/water mixture and pulse until the dough is homogenous. Pulse 3 or 4 times until the ingredients come together. Begin to run the mixture in long pulses (10 to 15 seconds each) until the dough is smooth and elastic—it shouldn't take more than a minute. If the dough seems wet and sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition. If you like, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and give it a few kneads by hand. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size—about 1 hour. Punch down the dough and turn it onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a ball. Cover with a towel (or turn the bowl it rose in upside down over the dough) and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. The dough is now ready to be shaped, topped and cooked or frozen. (You may also make the dough 12 to 24 hours ahead. Place the bowl of dough in the refrigerator where it will have a nice long, cool rise. Roll, top and bake as usual.)

Traditional mixing method:  Place the water in a large bowl and add the yeast. Let soften for a minute or two. Add 1 ½ cups of the flour and whisk until smooth. Add the oil, salt and another cup of the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough that holds its shape, adding more flour if necessary. Sprinkle some of the remaining half cup of flour on a smooth surface. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and sprinkle with a bit more flour. Knead the dough, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking, until the dough is smooth and springs back when pressed lightly with a finger—about 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a

Variation for a Whole Wheat Crust: Instead of unbleached all-purpose flour, use 3/4 c. bread flour and 1/2 to 3/4 c. whole wheat flour (any whole wheat flour will work, but I like “white” whole wheat flour).

Printable Recipe (for Dough)


Jennifer said...

FINALLY had enough time to make pizza...IT IS TO DIE FOR!!!!! OMG it is so good!

Paige said...

I'm so glad you like it! Thanks for letting me know!