A room filled with the scent of garlic-infused olive oil. A warm oven that sputters with the occasional spillover of sauce inside. A cutting board of cheeses within easy reach. Fresh basil aflutter. Beer. Several able-stomached friends. There are few things more soothing than a pizza party in someone’s home. And while almost any toppings for these treats suffice, there are likely few things more satisfying to a garlic lover than this saturated slice.
I’ve had several run-ins with fresh, local and slightly purplish-peeled garlic cloves recently, but haven’t come across too much broccoli yet. Chances are they’ll be harvested and appear on the market scene soon. This post isn’t the most timely one, I’ll admit. In the winter, my friends DJ and Zoya invited me to their pizza party. We made several pies, with their toppings and some that I’d brought, and we used the homemade whole wheat and honey pizza dough recipe that DJ and Zoya had been honing for months. One after another, pizzas came out of the oven, and more prepared pans of them went in. I left it with one of the fullest bellies I’ve ever felt in my life.
Months flew by and while I’ve gotten to cook with these friends again, never did post the recipe for one of our favorite pies of the night. Then today, DJ shared their dough recipe on Key Ingredient all the sudden (it must have been these rainy past few weeks); so I respond with this garlicky broccoli and ricotta entry, though I’m sure it was much less painstaking to perfect than dough.
a pie with homemade marinara, fresh mozzarella and pepperoni
another spread with sundried tomato pesto, fresh mozzarella and basil
Garlic could be one of the most unifying alliums, in every cuisine and often in strong doses. When cooked over low heat for a slow time, like roasting them in their peels, they take on a completely different taste than when fresh, and that’s what I was looking to capture for this pizza. First, a handful of cloves are chopped coarsely, maybe half a head. They’re allowed to cook only slightly over very low heat, drenched in olive oil. Once soft, the garlicky olive oil is spread across a wheel of pizza dough, then topped with cheese, chopped veggies and anything else. Anything goes, so long as they need only a short time to cook in the oven (to prevent garlic from over-crisping).
From there, it’s great baked with mozzarella and sprinkled with fresh herbs once out of the oven, something like cheesy garlic bread but more… golden. The ricotta in this version worked well since it was so dense and un-watery, a chunky whole milk version I’d picked up from Tonjes Farm Dairy at Union Square Greenmarket. A more moist ricotta should do the job fine, though it might not sprinkle easily (I never did like those big smears of ricotta on pizzerias’ “white” slices). But whatever the texture, the flavor of a really fresh, artisanal ricotta can’t be substituted. When one friend at the pizza party tried this pie, he said that it tasted “good and like it’s good for you.”
the broccoli pie before baking
A final warning if making this at your next shindig: make sure you’re in a comfortable enough setting that you can go on for the night having breath that could kill a vampire.
Broccoli, Ricotta and Golden Garlic Pizza
(makes one 8 or 9-inch pie)
pizza dough for 1 pie (try DJ’s whole wheat recipe, mine, or buy one from a pizza shop)
8-10 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
about 1 cup finely chopped broccoli florets
about 4 oz. ricotta
salt and pepper
Follow pizza dough recipe and prepare an 8 or 9-inch pan with the dough. Preheat oven to instructed temperature.
Heat the garlic and olive oil over a very low flame. Add a couple pinches of salt and cook for about 10-12 minutes, or until the garlic is just turning orangeish-brown and looks soft and more translucent. Remove from heat. Toss the chopped vegetables in the pan and season with a little more salt to taste and freshly ground pepper. Evenly scatter the mixture onto the pizza dough. Top with an even scatter of the ricotta.
Bake for about 6-8 minutes or however long it takes to cook the dough through. Let cool a moment before serving.
(for one medium pie, about 3 servings)
dough for 1 pizza: $0.50
8-10 cloves garlic: $0.25
6 tablespoons olive oil: $1.00
4 oz ricotta (at $4/12 oz. container): $1.33
1 cup chopped broccoli: $0.75
Five brownie points: While others may have been quick to conclude that this pie is ultra-healthy — and it certainly is, compared to most pizza — it only gets so healthy before it can’t be called pizza. Cheese is always going to be a prevalent fat and cholesterol source, but with homemade pizza you can control how much of it you want to put. I go light on this pizza. It tastes so strongly of savory garlic, and there’s a lot olive oil, so I don’t want to make it shine with too much more grease. Of course, broccoli florets are tight clusters of nutrients, with low calories, and the calcium in the cheese and fiber from the whole wheat dough are nice additions, too.
Four maple leaves: This recipe was actually made in the dead of late winter, when close to nothing, least of all green, was in season. So the broccoli wasn’t the most carbon footprint-reducing choice, purchased from I can’t remember where; on the other hand, cheese from local purveyors can be enjoyed year-round. And when making your own dough from scratch (or your own pizza for that matter), you’re eliminating piles of waste that can come with pre-purchased ones.