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Kitchen Lesson: Pizza on a Budget

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Spending the summer interning for Martha Stewart Living meant trading my fully stocked kitchen in Philadelphia for the austerity of NYU dorm life. I love to cook and entertain, but the limitations of my New York City kitchen—which boasts little more than one pot, two pans, and a wooden spoon—present a challenge. After subsisting on sandwiches for dinner, I was desperate to ask our associate food editor, Lauren Tempera, what I could make in my rudimentary kitchen.

“All you really need are the basics,” Lauren advised, noting that a basic pot, pan, and baking sheet can satisfy most meals. A modest inventory of ingredients can also accommodate a range of recipes: “In my fridge at all times, I have tomatoes, a bag of spinach, and mushrooms, plus ginger, garlic, and scallions. With those, you can cook for whatever cuisine you want.”

For an elegant-but-simple dinner, Lauren recommended pizza.

“I use my basic sheet pan for pizza,” Lauren said. “Turn it over, grease the back with a little bit of olive oil, and place the rolled dough on top of it. It makes a perfect pizza every time.”

But could I do it without a rolling pin, measuring cups, or more than one pan?

Lauren assured me that there’s no wrong way to make a pizza. Without precision or primness, pizza is easily adapted to whatever utensils or ingredients are on hand. The finished product can be at once elegant and unfussy, making it the perfect meal to serve to friends without worrying about exact measurements or ingredients.

I decided on a fig-and-goat-cheese pie, crowned with fresh arugula. I served it to friends alongside a simple salad and glasses of white wine. The meal felt both refined and understated, making it perfect for entertaining in an unfit kitchen. Here’s how I did it:

Arielle’s Arugula and Fig Pizza

with Martha Stewart’s Basic Pizza Dough

Ingredients

1 cup dried figs, halved

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 scallion, minced

½ cup mushrooms

1 log soft goat cheese, divided

2 cups arugula, tossed in olive oil

plus

2 packets (¼ ounce each) yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup olive oil

2 teaspoons salt

4 cups all-purpose flour

  1. Follow Martha Stewart’s basic pizza dough recipe, which yields fluffy and flavorful dough. I added some diced rosemary to mine for enhanced texture. After allowing the dough to rise, roll out on a floured surface. (Since I don’t have a rolling pin, I used an empty wine bottle instead—and it worked flawlessly.)
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a saucepan, combine figs, garlic, scallion, and any other desired herbs. Add approximately ½ cup warm water and let simmer on low heat until figs are soft and liquid is mostly absorbed; mixture should look roughly like jam. Spread onto pizza dough.
  3. Using emptied saucepan, sauté mushrooms in olive oil until brown. Place atop fig mixture on pizza.
  4. Crumble half of goat cheese atop figs and mushrooms.
  5. Bake pizza until pizza crust is lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven to add the arugula and the remaining goat cheese, then return to oven and bake about 3 minutes more. Serve and enjoy!

What are your favorite recipes to cook with a limited kitchen arsenal?

(Photos: Stefan Malmsten)

Arielle Pardes is the editorial intern at Martha Stewart Living. She enjoys entertaining, exploring, and eating good food. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @pardesoteric.

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