Neapolitan Style Pizza with a Walnut Bolognese and Fresh Arugula
This is what I want your pizza peel to look like when you’re through with this. I love making pizza for the pure joy of the sport… you basically make everything from scratch and it becomes this work of art that you are not only proud of, but you savor it more so than other foods that require less WORK. Yes, this recipe requires a bit more elbow grease, but it will transform your thoughts of ever having Uber deliver a pizza to your door ever again.
The pizza is broken up into three components: the sauce, the dough (THE BEST DOUGH BY FAR I HAVE EVER MADE), and the overall baking process to get to the end. I recommend having a pizza stone for this one, as the true Neapolitan style is produced by a stone reaching temperatures as high as 900 degrees to create that crunchy firm crust. I will go through each process separately to take you to the finish line.
For the Pizza dough (yields 2, 12-inch pizzas, takes 3 hours to proof and 20 minutes for baking process):
- 153 grams 00 flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
- 153 grams all-purpose flour (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons)
- 8 grams fine sea salt (1 teaspoon)
- 2 grams active dry yeast (3/4 teaspoon)
- 4 grams extra-virgin olive oil (1 teaspoon)
Preparation (for pizza dough):
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flours and salt
- In a mixing bowl, stir together 200 grams (a little less than 1 cup) lukewarm tap water, the yeast and the olive oil, then pour it into flour mixture. Knead with your hands until well combined, approximately 3 minutes, then let the mixture rest for 15 minutes.
- Knead rested dough for 3 minutes. Cut into 2 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Place on a heavily floured surface, cover with dampened cloth, and let rest and rise for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature or for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. (If you refrigerate the dough, remove it 30 to 45 minutes before you begin to shape it for pizza.)
- To make pizza, place each dough ball on a heavily floured surface and use your fingers to stretch it, then your hands to shape it into rounds or squares.
- Once shaped, brush crust edge lightly with olive oil and flaky salt. Top only with bolognese sauce *(See below for “Preparation of Pizza”)* and bake for about 8 minutes or until the bottom of the crust begins to brown.
For the Bolognese Sauce (total cooking time is 3 hours and creates about 6–8 servings, make this while your pizza dough is proofing):
- 1cup finely chopped onions
- 1 cup finely chopped carrots
- 1 cup finely chopped celery
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano (or fresh if you have it on hand)
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1.5 cups finely chopped walnuts
- 1 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons with scissors (this preserves the freshness of the basil)
- 1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained, juice preserved and set aside
- 1/4 cup dry red wine (or any bottle of red you have laying around that’s not being used)
- 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk
Preparation (for the bolognese sauce):
- Put onions, celery, and carrots in a small saucepan. Add enough oil to just cover the vegetables and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are golden and tender, about 10 minutes. When the oil stops bubbling, carefully pour through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Reserve the vegetables and oil separately.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the oregano and garlic and cook, stirring, just until garlic sizzles, about 30 seconds. Add the walnuts and cook, stirring, until evenly toasted, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved vegetables and half the basil. Stir well, then add the tomatoes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then stir well; reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are dark red, about 20 minutes.
- Add the wine and reserved tomato juice; stir well. Simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the coconut milk, then season to taste with salt. Simmer for 20 minutes
- Stir in the remaining basil and season to taste with salt
- Remove from heat once taste is to liking and let sit until room temperature
Preparation of pizza:
- Preheat the oven to the highest it goes and place pizza stone within the top 1/3 of the oven.
- Flour a surface for the dough (this could be the pizza peel or any other vehicle you choose that will move the dough from the countertop to the oven). With the dough on this surface, carefully ladle the room-temperature sauce onto the dough that has been proofed and formed into the shape you like. Be sure not to top too heavy with the sauce, in order to avoid ripping through the dough.
- Once topped, shave a light layer of fresh parmesan cheese onto the pizza and place in the oven, preferably on a pizza stone for about 8 minutes. You are looking for the edges to begin to brown on the crust in order to remove from the heat. If you do not have a pizza stone, you can use a baking sheet, but you may have to leave in the oven for a bit longer to get the crust to build heat and brown. The picture above illustrates how the pizza should look when removing from the oven.
- Safely and gently remove pizza from oven using pizza peel. This should not be difficult as the crust should be completely cooked and will slide easily onto the peel.
- Immediately top with arugala, some more shaved parmesan, crushed red pepper flakes, olive oil and a dollop of fresh buffalo ricotta (I prefer buffalo ricotta due to its smokier taste…if you do not like this, just use regular ricotta).
- See orgasmic photo below of the finished product. To come full circle, your pizza should look like the first picture shown on this blog post.
Buon appetito and cheers!