Clam & Garlic Pizza

 

One of my favorite parts about living in New England is the abundance of seafood.  I wrote Tuesday about seafood linguini, and today is all about clam pizza (don’t worry, I actually made and ate them on separate weeks.  Unless seafood every day is appealing to you, in which case rock on).

Seafood is pretty darn healthy for you on the whole, be it lobster, clams, shrimp, crab, or any other shelled ocean dweller.  Clams are a good source of several nutrients and minerals, including magnesium and manganese, phosphorus, potassium, copper and selenium, and a very good source of Vitamin B12.  Read More Here.  They are also naturally low in fat and high in protein.

Bakers Dozen Clams

These clams were from a local farmers market (if you’re local to New Haven, check out the City Seed network of markets).  I met the woman who captains the boat that harvested these guys, from the river and bay less than an hour from my house.  She showed me photos of the boat, the other deck hands, and a typical day’s haul.

She also explained the difference between several different types of clams, mostly size and thus what types of recipes they are best for.  Of course I don’t remember most of it, but the point is it was super cool to meet the actual person who obtained the food I was planning to eat.  I got this baker’s dozen of clams for only $5 too.

Once I saw the clams, I knew I had to have them.  And once I had them, I knew that clam pizza was gonna happen.  If you’ve ever been to New Haven, or even if you haven’t, chances are you’ve heard about Pepe’s Pizzeria, and their famous White Clam pie.  It was named the best in the country!  I am not arrogant enough to claim that I can make it just like Pepe or better, but I wanted to at least give it a shot.

Bowl of open clams

This woman also gave me some good advice on how to open and cook them, since this was my first time cooking with fresh clams.  A nice trick is to freeze them for an hour or so, then thaw them in a pan over medium low heat.  This makes them pop open really easily.  Or you can thaw them on the counter, just make sure to use a container to catch all the flavorful juice they release!  That’s good stuff.

The next step of this pizza was making the dough.  I could have bought it pre-made at the store, but I wanted to be all Suzy Homemaker and do it all from scratch.  Turns out, pizza dough isn’t even that hard to make!  And you can make a double batch, and keep half in the refrigerator or freezer to use again later.  This may become a regular weekend project now.

Ingredients for Pizza Dough:

  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 3 tbsp warm water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tsp sea salt

Step 1: Put the yeast, water, and sugar in a bowl and mix to dissolve.  The water needs to be just warm, not too hot to kill the yeast.  This is called “activating” the yeast.  It wakes up and starts eating the sugar.  Let it sit for 10-15 minutes at room temperature.

Activating Yeast

Step 2: In a large bowl, or stand mixer, mix the yeast with the flour, rest of the water, oil, and salt.  Mix until the dough is sticky yet pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Let it sit at room temperature 1 hour, so go do laundry or watch a TV show or run errands.

Pizza dough rising on pizza pan

Step 3: Punch the risen dough down, mix for a few minutes.  Let it rest again for 1 hour.  (This is kind of an all-day project, but with very little hands-on time.  Plenty of breaks to get stuff done, and you don’t have to babysit the dough in between.)  Either cut the dough in half for two smaller pizzas, or spread it out on a pizza pan (for round) or cookie sheet (for rectangle).  Heat the oven to 400 F.

Pre-cooked pizza crust

Step 4: Spread your dough, and poke a few holes in it with a fork to prevent big bubbles.  Bake the dough for 5-7 minutes, until lightly browned.  Then top with whatever you like, and bake another 5-7 minutes, until toppings are warm, browned, and/or gooey.

 

For my topping, I mixed clams, garlic, and olive oil for a pungent dose of flavor.  While the oven was heating, I took an entire head of garlic and cut off the tops.  I drizzled a tbsp or 2 of olive oil over it, wrapped it in tin foil, and baked it at 400 for about 15 minutes.  This cooks the cloves, turning them soft and brown and mellowing the garlic flavor.  Mix this with oil and chopped up clam, and you have heaven in the making.

Clams and Garlic

Ingredients for White Clam Pizza Topping:

  • Dozen clams, chopped, with juice
  • 1 head of garlic, baked, mushed with a fork
  • 2 tbsp olive oil + 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • Sprinkle of sea salt
  • Dash of Italian seasoning
  • Optional: 1/2 cup Parmesan or mozzarella

Pizza with clam and garlic topping

Step 1: Cut the top off the garlic, drizzle with oil, & wrap in tin foil.  Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes.  Squeeze the cooked garlic into a bowl, and mash with a fork.  Add clams, clam juice, oil, lemon, salt, and seasoning and mix well.

Baked Clam Pizza

Step 2: Take your dough, and spread the toppings all over it.  Sprinkle again with salt or seasonings, or a squirt of lemon if desired.

Clam Pizza with Cheese

Step 3: Optionally, sprinkle on a handful of shredded parmesan or mozzarella cheese.  Bake in a 400 oven for 7-10 minutes, until heated through and cheese is melted.

Clam pizza and lemon juice

You can serve with extra lemon wedges for sprinkling over the slices.  This is garlic and seafood heaven!  It smells amazing, and tastes even better.

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Oh, and I had only used half the dough on the clam pizza, so I took what vegetables were hanging out in the refrigerator and also made an awesome Brussels sprouts, beet, mushroom, and onion pizza!

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Pizza dough you make yourself is delicious, and far more healthy than a packaged box full of leaveners, preservatives, flavorants, and who knows what other chemicals.  When you make things at home, you know exactly what goes into them, save yourself some cashola (because it is almost always cheaper to make things from base ingredients than pay the convenience fee of someone else making it) and can add a little love too. 😉 That’s what my grandma always said, and I think she’s right.

 

 

How about you?  Ever made pizza dough at home?  What’s your favorite pizza topping?

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