Many, many years ago, I had accepted a position as a hostess at California Pizza Kitchen, a large chain restaurant in Southern California. As part of the training, you are required to try some of the popular items on the item. I came in one morning to find four or five different dishes all for me to try – the fatty inside me was jumping with glee. Enduring the training program was almost more bearable because of this session. One of the dishes that laid before me was the tricolore salad pizza. Unlike other pizzas, this one was topped with a large salad, making it almost, gasp, healthy! The thin crust was dusted with parmesan and baked until bubbly, than topped with a fresh mesclun greens salad. It easily because my favorite item on the menu, until I discovered that it was discontinued! Much to my dismay, I was forced to recreate this dish at home. The bright side? Now that I’ve discovered how to make it, I can have my copycat CPK’s tricolore salad pizza whenever I want!
- 1 package active dry or fresh yeast
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 cup warm water, 105 to 115 degrees F
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 6 cups mixed mesclun greens
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 2 oz shaved Parmesan
- Combine yeast with honey and 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes or until yeast is activated and bubbly.
- In a separate large bowl, combine flour with salt. Add yeast mixture, oil and remaining 3/4 cup water. Mix until dough comes together. Transfer to work surface lightly dusted with flour. Knead 2-3 minutes, until smooth and firm. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Divide the dough in half. Pull down the sides of the dough,tucking under the bottom. Repeat this step 4 or 5 times for each portion. Roll the ball under the palm of your hand into a smooth round dough, about 1 minute. Cover with a damp towel and let rest 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Flip a baking sheet upside down and heat in the oven for 10 minutes. If using pizza stone, skip this step.
- Gently roll out pizza dough with your hands into a 12 inch circle. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer crust to baking sheet. Mix 2 tbsp water with 2 tbsp sugar. Brush evenly on the crust. Sprinkle cheese, spreading it to the edges of the dough. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.
- Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Blend garlic with dijon and balsamic vinegar, slowly adding oil in a steady stream until dressing is thick and well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
- Toss mesclun greens and tomatoes with dressing. Remove crust from oven and top with the salad. Finish with shaved Parmesan. Serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
The trick to perfecting the tricolore salad pizza is to master the crust. You want a thin, bubbly, airy pizza crust with just the right amount of parmesan. After reading rave reviews on the Italian thin crust pizza dough recipe on grouprecipes.com, I decided to give it a try. If you already have a favorite recipe, by all means, use it and please share!
After preparing the dough, let it rise until doubled in size. Proofing the dough will allow it to become airy when baked. If you’re having difficulty telling if your dough is ready, press lightly into the dough with your index finger. If an indentation remains, the dough is ready.
After working the dough and tucking in the sides, the top of the dough will be smooth while the bottom looks like so (picture below). Roll the dough into a ball to make it completely smooth than let it rest.
When rolling out the dough, refrain from using a rolling pin. Ever notice pizza makers at restaurants tossing the dough and stretching it by hand and not with the assistance of a rolling pin? That’s because using a rolling pin can deflate air bubbles which create a bubbly crust. I’m no expert and didn’t dare toss my dough in the air, but gentle stretching and pulling was effective enough to create a crust.
Brush the crust with the sugar water mixture and sprinkle the grated cheese.
If you have a pizza stone, this would be the time to use it! If not, flip a baking sheet over and heat in the 500 degree oven for 10 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven and transfer the crust to the baking sheet. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted, about 12 minutes. I had to rotate my crust halfway through to prevent one edge from darkening too much.
Top with the fresh salad, top with shaved Parmesan and dive in! I’ll admit, the crust from California Pizza Kitchen was slightly better, but the dish as a whole was a success! Craving satisfied.
Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.