Classic pizza, without cheese, is perfect for summer.
What makes a summer pizza? Nothing new! It’s simply pizza without cheese though it goes by the Niçoise name — pizza pissaladière. Stay with me for a moment because, pizza pissaladière usually has anchovies criss-crossed on top, over the tomato sauce, onions and olives. But for this summer pizza I dispensed with anchovies because Americans tend not to like them. So it’s 100% vegan (if you care about that) plus it holds up very well in hot weather. Recently, I made two of these for a large outdoor gathering. They looked and tasted great and easily fed 20 along with other snacks.
This is a recipe I first developed many years ago and it needed some updates. Chief among them is the way the tomato sauce is made. Originally, I removed the tomato skins by dipping them in boiling water, then seeded them raw. Now, I find it easier to roast the tomatoes on a sheet of parchment paper [above] for about 25 minutes. The skins burst on their own and slip right off. And because the tomatoes are soft, they are much easier to seed and chop for the sauce.
Dough for the recipe rises quickly — I put the bowl in a plastic shopping bag and clip it closed.
Then dough is rolled out on a generously floured surface until it’s stretched enough to fit a 12 x 18-inch sheet pan.
Once on the sheet pan, trim the edges if needed and sprinkle dough with olive oil.
Then brush oil evenly over the dough and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Next comes the cooked tomato sauce, which goes on it blobs first — the tomato sauce needs to be cool at this point.
Then spread sauce evenly over the dough.
Thinly sliced, cooked and cooled onions go over the tomato sauce.
Final toppings are cooked sliced olives and mixed herbs — either dry or fresh.
After 15 to 20 minutes in the oven, edges of the crust are puffed, the bottom is crisp and the pizza is ready to be cut in squares to be served in the pan, or transferred to a large cutting or serving board. This is pan pizza with a crust that’s somewhat thick. In neighboring Italy, a similar dish is labeled tomato focaccia and often eaten for breakfast.
Pizza does make sense at this time of the year because it’s tomato season. Folks who grow their own often end up with a bumper crop. And the riper and juicier the tomatoes the better the sauce — which also can be made in batches or bulk. I’ve cooked both the sauce and onions as long as 3 days ahead and stored them in the refrigerator successfully so there’s no doubt the main components can be made ahead.