Although my split pea soup in a pressure cooker was a culinary disaster one night, many moons ago, another occurred at a recent picnic in our local park. Eager to please them, I signed up to share one of my unpublished recipes, Pizza Pie. This recipe takes pizza toppings and sandwiches them in between a top and bottom piecrust. Simple and, when properly served, elegant.
This recipe had always been a hit with friends and family in northern California, where we lived for over 30 years, so I decided to share it with my new friends here in Ojai. I was concerned, however, that the recipe would not feed everyone at the picnic. So I doubled the recipe and put it in a spring form pan to make it easy to transport and to serve.
One of the tricks to serving this pie is to let it cool for about 30 minutes before serving. This allows it to set up, but it is still warm enough to thoroughly enjoy when plated. In my haste to make sure the recipe amounts would successfully double, I did not pay attention to the need to cool the pie before serving.
When I arrived at the picnic, my friends asked when they could try my pizza pie. I snapped open the outer wall of the spring form pan, and carefully lifted it up and off. The pie had been cooling for only 5 minutes but it looked great! There were a couple of oohs and aahs. Then the 2 ½- inch sidewalls of pie dough cracked open. Oh noes replaced the oohs and ahhs.
We watched in horror as the pie fell apart. It was like watching a levee leak and ultimately to crumble, allowing water to escape and flow uncontrollably downstream. Ten seconds later my beautiful creation was an amoeba-like mess. But, no worries! It tasted good. Flavor trumped form.
Here is my un-doubled recipe for the infamous Sliding Pizza Pie and it comes with this warning: let it properly cool before serving!
2 pastry crusts (your own favorite recipe or store bought)
15 ounces Ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons onion (chopped)
1 tablespoon parsley (chopped)
8 ounces Parmesan cheese (grated)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
½ teaspoon dried oregano
10 ounces tomato puree
4 ounces tomato paste
2/3 cup sliced ripe olives
8 – 10 ounces Mozzarella cheese (sliced thin)
1 large bell pepper (sliced into match sticks)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Beat the eggs, and then stir in the Ricotta cheese, onion, parsley, Parmesan cheese, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan. Crush the cloves of garlic into it and add the herbs. When the garlic is clear and begins to turn golden, stir in the tomato puree, tomato paste, olives, and once again, liberally season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Slice the Mozzarella cheese thinly. Seed the bell pepper and slice into matchsticks. Set aside.
Assembly: Line a 10-inch pie dish with one of the two pastry crusts. Spread half of the Ricotta cheese mixture into the prepared pie shell. Layer with half of the Mozzarella cheese slices. Cover with half the tomato sauce, and spread half the green pepper over it. Repeat all the layers and cover with the top crust. Pinch the edges securely together and flute. With a very sharp knife, so it doesn’t tear the top crust, make three long, parallel slashes through the top.
Bake the pie for 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand for approximately 1/2 hour before serving.