Clam pizza


Clam pizza is such a Connecticut thing. I'm sure some would argue that it's also a New York thing, but I feel like Frank Pepe, the New Haven pizza institution, is best known for it's clam pizza, and thus, clam pizza is a Connecticut thing. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I first tried this briny, garlicky pie on a trip to Connecticut long before moving here myself. And I've been on a Goldilocksian journey to find the best one ever since. They have either been too salty, not garlicky enough, or without cheese and that is not acceptable to me when it comes to pizza. (Don't yell at me, people who think seafood and cheese should never mingle.)

Some slapdash mis-en-place.

Some slapdash mis-en-place.

We have not yet found our favorite (sorry, Pepe's), but instead have been making our favorite. Full of three different kinds of cheese and two different kinds of garlic, this pizza tastes like clams and tastes like a proper pizza, but also SO MUCH MORE. 


I used a pizza stone on a grill because a) not everyone has a grill, so you can easily recreate this in an oven with the pizza stone (see directions in the recipe); and b) because I've never grilled my pizza directly on the grates. If you're braver than I am, here are some instructions for that method.

If you aren't as into garlic (this recipe calls for 10 cloves!), either reduce the number of fresh cloves or just use the roasted ones. Their flavor is much mellower and blends well with the cheese.


And please do garnish with the lemon and sea salt. They make a huge difference in the end product.

Clam pizza

1 pizza dough
Flour to prevent sticking when rolling out dough
Coarse corn meal, about 2-3 Tbsp
1 cup ricotta cheese
6-7 roasted garlic cloves (see method below)
2-3 large raw garlic cloves, minced
2 cans clams, drained (about 4 oz of clam meat)
1/2- 3/4 cup nutty cheese such as gruyere, sharp cheddar, gouda (not smoked), or fontina,
1 cup mozzarella, shredded
Lemon wedges
Sea salt
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

For the roasted garlic:
Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 400. Smash 10 cloves of garlic, but don't remove the peels. Add them to a small oven proof container. I usually use a ramekin or a coffee mug. Cover with olive oil. Cook in the oven until the garlic is bubbling and fragrant and the cloves are very soft when (carefully! hot oil!) pushed on with a spoon, about 10 minutes.

Preheat your grill on high or your oven at 500. Remove the top rack of your grill or the second rack of your oven and move the remaining rack to the lower middle portion of the oven. (You want enough room above the rack to negotiate your dough onto the pizza stone, but be close enough to the top of the oven to easily brown your cheese. Add the pizza stone and let heat for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prep all of your toppings. Add the raw and roasted garlic to the ricotta, drain your clams, and shred and combine the mozzarella and nutty cheeses. Set aside. 

On a floured pizza board, roll out or press out your dough until very thin. Lift up half of the dough and scatter the coarse corn meal underneath. Repeat on the other side. Jiggle your pizza board to make sure that the dough will slide off easily. 

If cooking in the oven, add your toppings before placing the raw dough on the pizza stone, periodically shaking the pizza board to make sure that the topped dough will slide off easily. If the toppings are weighing down the dough too much, carefully add more corn meal under the crust.

Slide the topped, raw dough onto the pizza stone carefully. Cook for 6-8 minutes without opening the oven. Check the pizza and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the cheese and the sides of the crust begin to brown. Check the bottom crust for doneness (it should be golden brown and crispy). Remove from the heat and top with chopped parsley, sea salt, lemon, and crushed red pepper flakes (optional).

If cooking on the grill, make sure all of your toppings are measured and easily spreadable. Slide the plain, raw dough onto your grill and quickly top with the ricotta and garlic mixture, the clams, and the shredded cheeses. Close the lid to the grill and let cook for 5 minutes. Check for doneness continue cooking for 2-3 minutes until the crust and cheese begin to brown.

Check the bottom crust for doneness (it should be golden brown and crispy). Remove from the heat and top with chopped parsley, sea salt, lemon, and crushed red pepper flakes (optional).

One note about grilling, the number of burners on your grill will change the speed at which this pizza cooks. A 6-burner grill might take less than 5 minutes, so check it sooner. A 3-burner grill might take a minute more. Use your judgement based on your grill or oven.


Mediterranean caprese salad


I don't know if we can go back to regular oil-and-vinegar caprese after this. I love a good caprese salad, but I accidentally keep typing "craprese" and that's sort of a fitting description for a lot of them. If the mozzarella is rubbery or cold, if the tomatoes are mealy or our of season, and if the dressing isn't lively and tangy, then they're just...nothing. I mean, they're bad, but more than that they're just absent any flavor or texture or redeeming qualities.


However, tomato season is upon us, so it's much more likely that your tomatoes will be delicious. And if you have any access to a backyard, side yard, fire escape, community garden, etc, I implore you to plant some basil and mint. Both of these plants are hardy in the summer and will save you so much money at the grocery store. AND, you'll have no excuse not to make the pesto that accompanies this caprese salad (and that you'll want to pour on everything).


So, we have good tomatoes and a tangy interesting pesto, but what else does this salad need? Well, I also implore you not to serve cold mozzarella. Room temperature is SO MUCH BETTER. If you can get even a decent mozzarella, I think it's improved exponentially by sitting out for a short time (or, if you're also in the middle of our current heatwave, a few seconds?). And, I like to guild the lily by sprinkling a generous amount of crumbled, salty, briny feta on top. Is it necessary? No. Is it delicious? Yes. Should you do it? Without hesitation.

Buy a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes and you have a showstopper for a dinner party that requires basically no effort (I even opted for a pre-cut cheese because I'm that lazy) and better yet, NO COOKING. Did I mention the heatwave?


We ate it yesterday as Sunday lunch on our back porch with some prosciutto and salami, some Bantam Bread, and white peaches. A glass of cold rose or Sancerre would have made it heaven, but I'm old now and can't day drink without needing a nap and an Advil, so we forwent the wine. Boo.


Mediterranean caprese salad

4 large heirloom tomatoes
1 large or 2 medium balls of mozzarella
½ cup crumbled feta
¼- ½ cup mint and basil pesto (recipe below)

Mint and basil pesto
1½ cups basil leaves, loosely packed
½ cup mint leaves, well packed
1 large garlic clove (or 2 smaller ones)
1 medium shallot, quartered
2-3 Tbsp lemon juice (juice of 1 large lemon)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt

To make the pesto:
Place all of the ingredients except the oil in a large food processor or blender. While the machine is running, pour in the oil and blend until you've reached your desired consistency. Add salt to taste.

To assemble the salad:
Alternate the mozzarella and tomatoes in whatever color combination you like. Top with the mint and basil pesto and sprinkle with the feta.

Serves: 3-4 as a main course, 5-6 as a side


Carrot flatbread pizza


How is it Passover and Easter again? I've been thinking a lot about the passage of time lately. Having a sick parent has made me feel more like an adult than any other milestone has, while simultaneously making me feel like a helpless kid. How am I old enough to sleep next to a hospital bed and interact with doctors who seem to think I know what I'm doing? And also, isn't someone else supposed to take care of this stuff? Like, the mom who's in the hospital bed?

Last week was also M's 3rd birthday and while I felt the obligatory, "How is this kid 3 already?" I also felt a little bit like, "How is he only 3?" In the best way possible, it feels like he's always been here.

So yeah, time. It flies and crawls.

M also starts school on Monday. Real school where I drop him off every day and he makes friends and has relationships with teachers and learns things that I don't know. We flirted with this type of setting before we moved last summer, but then we relocated and decided to get on a waiting list for a school we liked instead of jumping right in as soon as we got to Connecticut.


So! This means I'll be actually posting lunchbox meals over on instagram instead of talking about them theoretically. This carrot pizza is a good place to start! First, it's "pizza" which is appealing to lots of kids. Carrots are also a good gateway vegetable because they're sweet, especially when roasted.


A few notes about the pesto: We're lucky that M's classroom isn't nut-free, but if your school is, swap in pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds for the cashews. Also, the carrot tops lend a fresh, green taste to this pesto. Use 2 packed cups of carrot tops and basil, in whatever ratio you want. My carrot tops usually measure between 1 and 1.5 cups, so I fill up the remaining cup with basil. And be sure to pack it tightly.


Carrot flatbread pizza

Carrot top pesto
1-2 cups leafy carrot tops (see note above)
1/4-1 cup basil
¼ cup raw cashews, toasted
1 large clove garlic
½ cup olive oil
splash of lemon juice
½ tsp salt, to taste

Yield: about 9 oz, or 1.5 cups sauce

For the flatbreads
2 lb carrots
2 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
4 flatbreads
6 Tbsp ricotta
6 Tbsp carrot top pesto
4 Tbsp parmesan
1-1.5 cups shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 400. Peel the carrots and arrange in roasting pan. Add oil and salt and roast for 35-40 minutes, until thickest part of the carrot is fork tender.

To arrange the flatbreads: Mix together the ricotta and pesto. Spread 2 Tbsp of the cheese and pesto mixture on top of the flatbreads. Top with about 1/4 – 1/3 cup of mozzarella. Arrange carrots in whatever pattern you like and top with 1 Tbsp parmesan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese has begun to brown and the breads are crispy.


Meatless Monday: Spring vegetable baked gnocchi

Whelp, it's been a while since my last post and if I'm being honest, it's because I've been obsessively online shopping for shoes to wear to my college reunion. But it's not as shallow as it sounds! I'm focusing my energies on something I can control because there's a lot right now that I can't. It's easier to compare heel heights and debate the pros and cons of suede in DC humidity than to worry about, say, authoritarianism or long-term career plans or huge and imminent life changes. It's enough to give me an ulcer. Which is also something I worry about.

This casserole has been helpful on busy days and is, as always, a helpful vehicle for vegetables. The leftovers are also great when crisped in the oven. I tend to shy away from baked pasta since it requires an extra step that the original ingredients don't necessarily need to taste great. But smothering things in cheese is always better than NOT smothering things with cheese and since the gnocchi cook so quickly, the overall prep and cooking time isn't overwhelming. Also, the gnocchi have a lot of starch thanks to the potatoes, which thickens the ricotta so that a bechamel or flour-based sauce isn't necessary.

Baked gnocchi

1 package potato gnocchi, cooked al dente
1 large shallot, minced
1 bunch asparagus, woody stems chopped off
1 box baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1 box shitake mushrooms, chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup full fat ricotta
½ cup parmesan
½- ¾ cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat broiler. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, melt butter in a sauté pan and cook the shallots until opaque. Add the mushrooms and cook until they start to release some water. Add the garlic and asparagus and cook until the water evaporates. If the mushrooms don’t release any water, feel free to add a tbsp or two with the asparagus and cook until it evaporates.

When water is boiling, add the gnocchi and as soon as they start floating to the top, scoop the gnocchi out with a slotted spoon or strainer and put into a large bowl. If only a few gnocchi float at a time, scoop them out in small groups. If the gnocchi aren’t floating or some seem to be cooking at the bottom of the pot for longer than 3-4 minutes, test for doneness and scoop out as long as they no longer taste doughy.

Mix the gnocchi with ricotta, parmesan, sautéed veggies, salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking dish and top with shredded mozzarella. Bake under the broiler until cheese is brown and bubbly, about 10-12 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings

Healthy-ish pizza rolls

Healthy-ish pizza rolls | Me & The Moose. Whole wheat pizza crust, kale pesto, and turkey salami make these lunchbox friendly pizza rolls (just swap the walnuts in the kale pesto for sunflower or pumpkin seeds or leave them out entirely) a healthier pizza option. #meandthemoose #pizzarolls #healthypizzarecipes #healthypizza #lunchboxideas #lunchboxrecipes #lunch #pizza

Today is Pi day and Friday is St. Patrick's Day and the closest we're getting to a themed meal here at M&TM headquarters is kale pesto pizza rollups which are just barely a pizza "pie" and just barely green. Needs must.

We love pizza around these parts, but pizza doesn't always love us. First of all, it's bad for you. Second, it's a mess. A toddler with pizza grease and tomato sauce all over him is just a prelude to an APARTMENT with pizza grease and tomato sauce all over it. These rolls solve these problems: They're a bit healthier, using whole wheat pizza dough (pre-made from Whole Foods because my laziness is well documented on this blog), turkey salami, part-skim mozzarella, and kale pesto. But they really don't skimp on flavor. These rolls also keep well in the fridge or freezer as long as they're re-crisped well in the toaster or the oven before being eaten. 

Healthy-ish pizza rolls | Me & The Moose. Whole wheat pizza crust, kale pesto, and turkey salami make these lunchbox friendly pizza rolls (just swap the walnuts in the kale pesto for sunflower or pumpkin seeds or leave them out entirely) a healthier pizza option. #meandthemoose #pizzarolls #healthypizzarecipes #healthypizza #lunchboxideas #lunchboxrecipes #lunch #pizza

To get this cleaner, healthier version of pizza, you have to do a tiny bit more work than just slapping some sauce and cheese on a rolled out dough and popping it into the oven, though not much more. First, you have to roll the dough into a rectangle, which can take a bit of doing. Make sure your sauce layer is thin since overfilling the middles can cause the rolls to fall apart. You also want to be stingy with the cheese and salami (if using) for the same reason. But the rolling up means that you'll still get tons of cheese and toppings in each bite. 

I took Sally from Sally's Baking Addiction's advice about refrigerating the dough and fillings for 30 minutes after rolling them into a log, but before cutting and cooking them, but I'm not completely sure it was necessary as I've made these without that extra step and found the rolls similarly loose. A few pieces of advice: Try to make this roll as tight as possible. Use your sharpest knife to cut the rolls and don't make them more than 1-inch wide. Also, feel free to tighten and crimp the outside layer of the dough as you transfer the cut pieces to the baking sheet. 

Healthy-ish pizza rolls | Me & The Moose. Whole wheat pizza crust, kale pesto, and turkey salami make these lunchbox friendly pizza rolls (just swap the walnuts in the kale pesto for sunflower or pumpkin seeds or leave them out entirely) a healthier pizza option. #meandthemoose #pizzarolls #healthypizzarecipes #healthypizza #lunchboxideas #lunchboxrecipes #lunch #pizza

Pizza rolls

1 store-bought or homemade whole wheat pizza dough
½ cup kale pesto (scant)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3 Tbsp parmesan cheese
4-5 oz Turkey salami or pepperoni
1/8 cup corn meal
Tomato sauce for dipping

Preheat the oven to 425 and line a baking pan with parchment paper. Roll or press out the pizza dough on a separate piece of lightly floured parchment paper until it’s about 1/8 inch thick. Spread a very thin layer of the kale pesto over top and make sure to get all the way to the edges of the dough. Sprinkle with mozzarella. Add salami or pepperoni if using.

Along the longer side, start rolling the dough as tightly as you can. Continue rolling until the dough and fillings form a log. Transfer the log and parchment paper to a baking pan and chill for 30 minutes (or not, see above note).

After chilling, cut 1-inch pieces from the roll and dip one cut side into the corn meal to prevent sticking. Place the cornmeal crusted side on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Once all the pieces are cut, sprinkle lightly with parmesan and bake for 15-18 minutes until the outsides are golden brown.

Yield: about 15 rolls

Healthy-ish pizza rolls | Me & The Moose. Whole wheat pizza crust, kale pesto, and turkey salami make these lunchbox friendly pizza rolls (just swap the walnuts in the kale pesto for sunflower or pumpkin seeds or leave them out entirely) a healthier pizza option. #meandthemoose #pizzarolls #healthypizzarecipes #healthypizza #lunchboxideas #lunchboxrecipes #lunch #pizza