Recipe: Black Bean Pizza

Black Bean Pizza 

For years I never really understood pizza. I'd had many pizzas that I'd liked and a few (always commercial brands) that were more than a mystery to me. But, somehow, the soul of pizza had not been revealed to me. Then one day I came across a copy of Elizabeth David's Italian Cooking and, as I was perusing it, I found what I hadn't even known I was looking for - Pizza Napolitana. Pizza crust, chopped tomatoes, anchovies, mozzarella and basil. Inspired simplicity -- a perfect meld of flavors. Every other pizza is descended from it. So I made it and have been making it, and other pizza, ever since. (Check out any Elizabeth David books you can find. They're great reading and full of wonderful recipes.) 

Over the years I have experimented with different toppings. The basic idea of pizza is, of course, very simple and an open invitation to such tinkering. You make--or buy--a crust and you pile some stuff on it and bake the whole thing for 15 to 20 minutes. I like to make the crust myself--I like the process and I think you get a better result. The first Pizza crust I ever made looked like a map of Treasure Island, so don't be discouraged if your first attempts are less than perfect.  

• 1 cup (slightly heaped) flour (about a cup and a quarter) 

• 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast 

• 1/2 teaspoon salt 

• 1 teaspoon of sugar or honey 

the above dissolved in: 

• quarter pint of lukewarm water 

stir in 

• 1 Tablespoon olive oil 

Place the flour in a large bowl and slowly add the water/oil mixture using the handle of a wooden spoon to stir. (I now have a fancy implement like the one Father Dominic uses but a wooden spoon handle works well too.) If needed, use more water until, quite suddenly, everything comes together and a 'ball' forms. Flour your counter-top, your hands and sprinkle a little on the dough 'ball' to avoid sticking. Place the ball on the counter and knead for several minutes. Spray a plate with some aerosol oil--Pam, or some such product--cover with a cloth and put somewhere warm. I usually pre-heat an oven on low then turn off the heat and place it in there for an hour. Somewhere cooler will take longer. While the dough rises make the topping.  
Mix together: 

• 1 14oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained (you'll actually only use about three-quarters of the can) 

• Half a red onion, chopped 

• 2 teaspoons cumin 

• 1/4 quarter cup chopped cilantro--or more to taste 

• 6 oz. mozzarella grated 

• 2 oz. cheddar grated 

• Salt - to taste 

When the dough has risen roll it out to desired thickness on a floured surface. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle very lightly with red pepper flakes. Add the topping and spread evenly. Decorate the top with tomato slices and thin strips of Anaheim pepper or some other mild pepper. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. 

All of this is kind of approximate so feel free to modify to your taste.  

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