"I could smell the pizza even before it arrived at our table," writes chef and cookbook author Joanne Weir about her first meal at Chez Panisse Café in 1981. "As our server set it down, I was speechless. In my experience, pizza was doughy crust topped with tomato sauce and gloppy cheese. Sitting in front of us now was a crisp flatbread topped with a heaping mound of tiny, pristine flat-leaf parsley leaves glistening with a garlicky vinaigrette and punctuated with shards of shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano…If this had been my last meal on earth, I would be dying happy."
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups unbleached bread flour, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup coarsely shredded Italian fontina cheese (about 3 oz.)
2/3 cup coarsely shredded mozzarella cheese (about 3 oz.)
1 large bunch tender, young flat-leaf parsley
3-oz. chunk Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
How to Make It
In a large bowl, combine yeast, 1/4 cup warm (110°) water, and 1/4 cup flour and stir to mix. Let mixture sit at room temperature until bubbles are visible, about 30 minutes.
Add remaining 1 3/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. warm water, the oil, and salt and, using a wooden spoon, stir until dough comes together in a rough mass.
Lightly flour a work surface and turn dough out onto it. Knead until smooth, elastic, and a bit tacky to the touch, 7 to 8 minutes. Shape into a ball. Oil a large bowl, place dough in bowl, and turn to coat on all sides with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (Or, let dough rise in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, bring it to room temperature before continuing.)
Make pizza: About 30 minutes before baking, place a pizza stone on lowest rack in oven. Preheat oven to 500° or to the highest temperature possible.
In a small bowl, combine garlic and 2 tbsp. oil and let stand 30 minutes.
In another bowl, whisk together remaining 2 tbsp. oil and the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, combine fontina and mozzarella and toss lightly to mix well.
Lightly flour a work surface. Punch down dough. Divide it in half and form each half into a ball, but do not work the dough at all. Roll out 1 dough ball into a 10- to 11-in. circle about 1/4 in. thick. (Alternatively, press and stretch dough into a 10- to 11-in. circle.)
Lightly flour a pizza peel (or a rimless cookie sheet) and transfer dough circle to peel. Brush dough circle to within 1/2 in. of edge with half of garlic-infused oil. Sprinkle half of fontina-mozzarella mixture evenly over oil-brushed dough.
Slide onto pizza stone and bake until golden and crisp, 8 to 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, toss parsley leaves with vinaigrette.
Using peel, remove pizza from oven and slide onto a cutting board. Top with half of parsley salad. Using a vegetable peeler, shave 10 to 12 paper-thin pieces of Parmigiano-Reggiano over top of pizza, then cut pizza into wedges. Repeat with remaining dough and toppings.
Kitchen Gypsy: Recipes and Stories from a Lifelong Romance with Food (Oxmoor House 2015).