The idea for this recipe stems from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Biscuits and Scones, by Elizabeth Alston; it was a going-away to grad school present from a favorite aerobics class participant. It is petite perfection: 62 sweet and savory recipes, of which I have tried almost all (biscuits and scones fit well with a graduate student budget). Ms. Alston's accompanying prose is lively and informative, and the recipes are flawless.
Topping my list of favorites from the book is her pissaladière, Southern France's answer to pizza. My mother makes a wickedly delicious version from James Beard's Beard on Bread. It's an all-day affair, made with a butter-rich brioche crust, so I was excited to try Alston's innovative biscuit-crust version.
It is, in a word, brilliant. Moreover, it has inspired many biscuit- and scone-based pizzas from my oven ever since. Three cheers for Elizabeth Alston!
My toppings are a hodge-podge of ingredients found in my kitchen, so use the recipe as a template for whatever cheeses and toppings you prefer. Smaller tomatoes work best here--Romas, cherry, or grape. Juicier varieties make the crust a bit soggy.
Vegetable Pizza with Parmesan Scone Crust
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2/3 cup nonfat milk
1 large egg
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 green pepper, seeded, thinly sliced
5 green onions thinly sliced (the white and green parts)
1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts (well-drained)
1/4 cup marinara sauce
3-4 small tomatoes, sliced
1 and 1/2 cups grated smoked Gouda cheese
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Whisk the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in Parmesan. Whisk the milk and egg in a small bowl, then add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Turn dough out onto a floured surface; pat to 1-inch-thick circle. Lift onto a non-stick baking sheet, then press out to a circle about 10 inches across to make the pizza base.
Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the green pepper; cook and stir until the pepper is soft. Remove from the heat and add the green onions and artichoke hearts.
Spread the marinara sauce over the crust, then evenly distribute the vegetable mixture. Scatter over the tomatoes, followed by the cheese.
Bake for 15-18 minutes until crust is golden and cooked through. Makes 6 servings.