Eat Seasonal: Zucchini Pizzette

Hello July!

After a scorching week, tomorrow promises to bring a break in our heat wave and I am finally thinking about baking again. The produce at the markets is so inspiring and each day I am coming home with something new to play with in the Simple Bites kitchen.

My own garden has surprised me this year, flourishing despite the lack of attention from me. The zucchini (or courgettes) are beautiful right now, with every plant producing 4-5 per week. I harvest them while they are small and add them to everything from Easy Roasted Vegetable Spaghetti to my Harvest Tortilla Soup.

Since we’ve been rocking the summer of the spritz, I’ve also been incorporating my homegrown zucchini into little pre-dinner appetizers and they are too good not to share the recipe.


All images by Alison Slattery

This recipe comes from the stunningly beautiful book, A Table in Venice, by Skye McAlpine. These tiny pizzas are one of the author’s favourite cicheti or small bites to serve during the afternoon aperitivo, and it’s not hard to see why as they are completly addicting.

Bite-size puff pasty rounds are topped with crushed tomatoes and mozzarella cheese – much like a pizza – and then topped with delicate zucchini rounds and a sprinkling of thyme leaves.

When they are baked up, the cheese has melted into the saucy tomatoes and the pastry has crisped up so that it shatters when you bit into it. A touch of pecorino cheese adds just the right amount of sharpness and the fragrant thyme reminds us of the garden that inspired the appetizers in the first place.

I like to serve these simple and seasonal zucchini pizzette alongside my Honey-Drizzled Strawberry Ricotta Crostini for a little pre-dinner appetizer. Paired with a refreshing Kombucha Spritz, this is a summery spread that is loved by all.

For easy entertaining, zucchini pizzette can be frozen and reheated just before serving. Enjoy!


Zucchini Pizzette
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Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 small zucchini
  • Maldon or kosher salt
  • 1 sheet (½ a 17-ounce package) / 1 (320g) package prepared puff pastry, thawed if frozen
  • 1 (14-ounce) / 1 (400g) can peeled plum tomatoes, drained, chopped, and drained again
  • 4½ ounces / 125g fresh mozzarella, drained and chopped OR grated mozzarella
  • ½ cup / 50g grated pecorino cheese
  • Small bunch of fresh thyme
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Using a mandoline, slice the zucchini into paper-thin rounds and arrange on a skillet or griddle. Season with a little salt. Cook on medium-high heat until charred and blistered on both sides, 3 minutes total.
  3. On a cool, clean surface, unfold and lay out the puff pastry. Use a round biscuit cutter, about 3 inches (7 to 8cm) in diameter, to cut out the bases for individual pizzette. Arrange the pastry rounds on the baking sheet, allowing plenty of space between them. Use a sharp knife to score a circle inside each pastry round, allowing a 1⁄4-inch margin.
  4. Bake the pizzette bases until lightly golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and use your fingers to squash down the centers of the pastry if they have puffed up; you want to create a hollow. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of tomato into each hollow.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the mozzarella and pecorino. Spoon a generous scoop of the cheese over the tomato, enough so that the cheese almost completely hides the tomato. Top with a couple slices of grilled zucchini and a few thyme leaves.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is deliciously melted and golden, and the pastry is crisp on the bottom. The pizzette are best eaten straight from the oven, when buttery and warm, but they will keep in an airtight container for 2 days. Reheat them in the oven before serving.
Notes
Baby artichokes, black olives and anchovies, and blue cheese are all equally scrumptious alternative toppings or leave them plain like a margherita.

Excerpted from A Table in Venice: Recipes from My Home by Skye McAlpine. Copyright © 2018 Skye McAlpine. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Images provided by Alison Slattery of Two Food Photographers. Food and prop styling by yours truly. Collaboration is fun!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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