Leeks are a standard ingredient in French cooking. In this recipe they impart a fragrant taste that is less imposing than that of the yellow onion traditionally found on pizza. Pancetta, an Italian bacon, is cured rather than smoked, which results in a milder, more delicate flavor. Here it imbues the fresh tomatoes, mild leeks, and aromatic basil with a distinctive character.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 (¼-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast or 2 (3/5-ounce) cakes fresh yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 pounds leeks, white and light green parts cleaned and cut into thin slices
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon finely ground pepper
- ¼ pound pancetta, thinly sliced
- 1 pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon oil
1. Sift flour into a large bowl and make a well in center. Sprinkle dry yeast or crumble fresh yeast into well. Pour ½ cup of the lukewarm water over yeast and leave for 10 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast. Add remaining water, the oil, and salt to well and mix with ingredients in middle of well.
2. Stir in flour and mix thoroughly to obtain a fairly soft dough. If dough is dry, knead in 1 tablespoon water; if dough is very sticky, knead in 1 to 2 tablespoons flour.
3. Knead dough by slapping it vigorously on a lightly floured work surface until dough is very smooth and elastic. Flour work surface occasionally if dough sticks.
4. Transfer dough to a clean bowl and sprinkle it with a little flour. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour, or until doubled in volume.
5. Punch dough down and knead again briefly on a floured surface until smooth. Return to bowl and cover.
6. Return to warm place and let rise 30 to 45 minutes, or until doubled in volume.
1. Heat butter in a deep skillet or sauté pan over low heat. Add leeks, salt, and pepper and mix thoroughly. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring often, about 20 minutes, or until very tender. If liquid remains in pan, uncover and continue cooking, stirring often, until it evaporates. Taste for seasoning.
2. In a medium skillet, cook pancetta lightly over medium-low heat until crisp and slightly brown. Remove pancetta to paper towels and drain. Crumble into small pieces. Remove drippings from skillet.
3. Add tomatoes to skillet in which pancetta was cooked. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, about 15 minutes, or until mixture is dry. Add pancetta and basil and taste for seasoning.
4. Oil 2 baking sheets. Knead dough again briefly and divide in 2 equal parts. Put each on baking sheet. With oiled hands, pat each piece of dough out to a 9- to 10-inch circle with the rim slightly higher than rest of circle. Alternatively, use a rolling pin to roll out dough on a floured surface and transfer to baking sheets.
5. Spread half of leek mixture over outer edge of each circle of dough. Spread tomato mixture over center of circle, leaving leek mixture showing near rim.
6. Brush rim of pizzas with oil. Sprinkle any remaining oil over topping.
7. Let rise about 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F.
8. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and firm but not hard. Serve immediately.