My romance with pizza was sparked in a small trattoria in Parmigiano, Italy, where I had my first Italian version. It was with ham, artichoke hearts, and melted cheese. A revelation: there was no
tomato. I don’t remember the cheese, but it was gooey and stringy, so certainly more than just Parmesan. Memory has faded, the picture of the original becomes more and more vague, but it still provides the underlay for all my future pizzas, pentimentos of that initial taste of “the real thing.”
By one of those convoluted meanderings of mind, a windfall of onions led me to this “painted over” pizza, still with no tomato. The onion part was a birthday gift from my sister Deborah Budrick’s garden–a bouquet of beautiful red and white onions with their green stalks and white flower heads intact. So I pickled some of them, as I often do with vegetables in summer. Young green zucchini shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler can substitute for the squash blossoms.
For each Pizza:
6 ounces pizza dough, pressed or rolled into an 8-inch round
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pickled onions, drained
1/4 cup (loose) arugula leaves
1/2 cup coarsely torn fresh mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (loose) squash blossoms, in lengthwise shreds
1/3 cup planed and crumbled Parmesan cheese
1. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
2. Lightly brush each side of the dough round with olive oil. Place on the grill rack directly over the coals and cook until the dough forms bubbles across the top and is beginning to brown on the underside, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Flip over the pizza. Spread the onions, then the arugula, then the mozzarella, then the squash blossoms, then the Parmesan over the top. Drizzle a little olive oil over all, cover, and cook until the cheese melts and the bottom is golden and slightly charred around the edges, about 8 minutes.