MoM Aug. ’08 Tastes of Italia: Pizza with Gorgonzola, Sundried Tomatoes and Walnuts

Recently I had a shindig to attend, and I wanted to bring a little something to share. I opted for something out of this month’s magazine selection, Tastes of Italia. It was met with overall acceptance: Those who love the pungent flavor of Gorgonzola loved it, while those who weren’t sure what they were getting into were a bit conflicted.

I was surprised at how many people had never eaten Gorgonzola cheese before. In case you happen to be one of them, let’s get nerdy with some Gorgonzola cheese facts from Wikipedia.

Gorgonzola is a veined Italian blue cheese, made from unskimmed cow’s milk. It can be buttery or firm, crumbly and quite salty, with a ‘bite’ from its blue veining. It has been made since the early Middle Ages, but only became marbled with greenish-blue mold in the eleventh century. It is frequently used in Italian cooking. The name comes from Gorgonzola, a small town near Milan, Italy, where the cheese was reportedly first made in 879; however, this claim of geographical origin is disputed by other towns.

If you live in a town that avidly disputes the origin of a cheese, you’re hard up for a good time. Anyway, it’s like a creamy blue cheese except a bit more pungent in your mouth. If you enjoy that sort of a tart flavor, you’re in for a treat with Gorgonzola. If you aren’t a big fan, then this probably isn’t for you – grab another cheese that is good with walnuts and sundried tomatoes and use that instead.

First, we have to start out with the dough.

You didn’t think we were going to buy that in a grocery store did you?

That’s good. This is one of the easier pizza doughs I’ve ever had to make, not to mention it’s also the quickest and most forgiving dough I’ve made.

Basic Pizza Dough
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups lukewarm water, divided
3 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for handling
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup of water. Stir with a fork until mixed. Cover with a dry towel and let sit for 30 minutes. If the yeast is foamy (like the picture above) continue; if not, throw out the mixture and start over.

Add the salt, olive oil and remaining water. Stir in flour 1/2 cup at a time. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough 5 – 7 minutes or until dough is no longer sticky.

This is where I started to have problems. Earlier I said this is the most “forgiving” dough I’ve made – let me explain. While I was putting this together, I was doing other stuff at the same time. So I thought I had counted my 1/2 cups, but even though I swear I put 3 cups in, the dough was still extremely sticky – so much that kneading it wasn’t going to help. I don’t know how much more flour I added, but it had to be like another cup or cup and a half. When it was somewhat less tacky, I then stuck even more flour on the board, floured up my hands and started to knead. It never became non-sticky as the instructions say, so when I could at least handle it without half of it being stuck to my hands in a goopy mess, I called it good and moved on to the next step. Regardless of this, the dough still came out amazing, so I’m not really sure what happened there.

Form the dough into a ball and coat it with olive oil. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a towel and set it in a warm place. Let the dough rise for 1 hour or longer.

After the dough rises, dust your hands with flour and re-knead the dough for about 2 minutes. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and, using your hands, shape each into a flat disk. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Using flour-covered hands, flatten disk further by pressing outward until you reach your desired thickness and circumference.

At this point, the dough will be really pliable and somewhat delicate. When you start to roll it out, it will firm up and become more difficult to shape. I had a hard time getting this to go into the shape I wanted. After my first attempt it was too hard to reshape, so I stuck it back into the bowl and let it rise again. After it had another 30 minutes to rise, it was back to the delicateness it was when I took it out of the bowl the first time.

Unfortunately, even after my second attempt, I was unable to shape it into a circle, so I made it oblong… sort of.

So with my awesome oblong-inspired pizza crust completed, I moved on to the actual pizza.

Pizza with Gorgonzola, Sundried Tomatoes, and Walnuts
Cornmeal or parchment paper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of Kosher Salt
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup walnuts
1/3 cup sliced sundried tomatoes
Black Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced

Preheat oven to 500-degrees F. Place pizza crust on baking sheet lightly covered in cornmeal or covered in parchment paper. Brush olive oil over pizza crust. Add salt, then cheese, walnuts and tomatoes. Add pepper and parsley and bake for 7 – 8 minutes. Remove and serve.

Because my pizza was an odd shape, I disguised it by cutting it into rectangles. The weird corners were eaten by me. I liked this a lot, as did other Gorgonzola lovers. It was gone by the end of the night.

Scroll back to the top if you wanted to see the finished product on the cover of the Tastes of Italia magazine.