fig, arugula + pancetta pizza

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Whatever you love, you are. I want to believe in that. I think about it a lot when I remember those weeks after my father died. More than anyone else I know, he was what he loved. He went after his life with both hands. He swallowed it in gulps, right up to the second they took the plate away. He never apologized, not even when I wanted him to–not for being stubborn, not for the silent treatment, not for leaving us behind. – Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life.

Black water, ashen skin, locked, windowless rooms, fingers clawing at floorboards and death, frighten me. One would think I’d be accustomed to the dark, as I always lived where the light couldn’t get in. He whitewashed all the windows shut; she hammered the shades down to the sill — they were both determined to ruin. Back then I was a sleepwaker, and one evening I found myself in someone else’s apartment and woke to an old woman trembling on the floor. After a moment her body fell to a disquiet. I sat beside her, confused and leaned in. She smelled of old books and her skin was soft and paper-thin, like cashmere. All I could remember was that the room was too bright for the night. Then I remember being lifted and then I lost time. Months later I walked home and saw a body on the sidewalk, all skinny and ravaged by junk. Her eyes were yellow and wide. It was an hour before the police came. Back then people were used to this, death undoing so many.

I can no longer associate myself…

Years later I bolted up from the couch and paced the rooms. Numb, I started to think about my hands, my feet. They would be gone. The ground beneath my feet would give way and I would one day be amongst the rocks and gravel, all rotten bone and thick hair. And then I got the shakes, bad. You won’t be here. You won’t be here. All that I had collected, all that I had read, eaten and seen would be gone, and I couldn’t control it. I couldn’t stop time.

There are no clocks in my house. I refuse to wear a watch. I believe in God because I want to have hope that there is something other than blackness, but now I don’t know. What if there is only blackness? What if there is only earth and your body crumbling to dust in it? Sometimes I put my hand to my heart and press my eyes shut. It’s still a metronome. It still beats. I’m still here.

My fear of time, of losing it, comes in waves. I’d like to think that I will have a great life, that people will remember me long after I’m gone, that I will have made my mark. That all of this would have mattered, even if it meant losing it.

So perhaps I’m crazy for inviting a friend over simply for the fact that I want to spend time — all of it — with the people I love. Enjoying what I love. Food.

INGREDIENTS: Whole wheat crust adapted from Joy the Baker (makes 2 pizzas)
For the crust
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp cane sugar
1 1/2 cup warm water
Extra virgin olive oil for the pan

For the topping
1/4 cup cooked pancetta
3/4 cup arugula, packed
1 cup fresh figs, quartered
1/2 tsp truffle salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

DIRECTIONS
What I loved about this recipe is the fact that it’s absurdly tactile. There’s no stand mixer, no dough hook, no needless kneading. It’s just you and the dough and your hands, working it. So let’s get to it!

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add warm water all at once. Using a wooden spoon, work the mixture together until fully incorporated. If for some reason your dough won’t come together, add a touch more water (1 tbsp at a time). The dough will inevitably cohere. It will be slightly sticky and elastic — don’t worry about this.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel, allowing it to rise at room temperature for at least 2 hours. The dough will double in size.

Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Turn out the dough lightly floured work surface, dividing it in half. Since I’m only making one pizza, I wrapped the second half in cling film and stored in the freezer. Once I plan on using it, I’ll allow it to come to room temperature before rolling it out. But back to my masterpiece!

Generously oil a 13×18-inch rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Place the rounded dough on the pan and stretch and press the dough out into a flat rectangle. If the dough springs bag as you’re pressing it out, simply wait five minutes to allow the dough to rest and then try again. The dough should be thin. If the dough tears, don’t worry, just press it back together.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the edges are charred and bubbling. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for a few moments before adding the arugula, figs, a smattering of olive oil and crispy pancetta. Top with truffle salt and pepper and serve.

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