White Pizza with Spinach and Ricotta

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! It is wonderful to be in a green place, the Pacific Northwest, for the holiday. Sometimes a poem can be like a tuning fork for a day, setting a pitch for our thoughts. It seems fitting to let Seamus Heaney’s poem “Oysters” be the note to strike, as I sit on grass by the sea on an Irish Sunday:


Our shells clacked on the plates.
My tongue was a filling estuary,
My palate hung with starlight:
As I tasted the salty Pleiades
Orion dipped his foot into the water.

Alive and violated,
They lay on their bed of ice:
Bivalves: the split bulb
And philandering sigh of ocean —
Millions of them ripped and shucked and scattered.

We had driven to that coast
Through flowers and limestone
And there we were, toasting friendship,
Laying down a perfect memory
In the cool of thatch and crockery.

Over the Alps, packed deep in hay and snow,
The Romans hauled their oysters south of Rome:
I saw damp panniers disgorge
The frond-lipped, brine-stung
Glut of privilege

And was angry that my trust could not repose
In the clear light, like poetry or freedom
Leaning in from sea. I ate the day
Deliberately, that its tang
Might quicken me all into verb, pure verb.


White Pizza with Spinach and Ricotta

Baking Illustrated

INGREDIENTS for the Basic Pizza Dough

1/2 cup warm water (about 110°)

1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp.) instant yeast

1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting (used all-purpose)

2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp. salt

olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl

For the Extras
4 cloves worth minced garlic

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

1 ½ pound spinach, stemmed, washed, and chopped coarse

1 15 oz container ricotta cheese

6 tablespoons grated Parmesan


  1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and stir to combine.
  2. Add flour and salt to the liquid ingredients. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.
  3. Shape into smooth round ball and cover with a damp cloth. Let dough relax for at least 10 minutes (no more than 30 minutes)
  4. Sautee garlic and red pepper flakes in 2 tablespoons garlic. When garlic is fragrant, add wet spinach, reduce heat and cover until spinach is heated and soft. Discard liquid. Image
  5. Brush rolled out dough round with oil. Arrange 1/3 spinach mixture on the pizza, leaving ½ inch border uncovered. Dot with ricotta cheese.
  6. Slide on peel (covered with corn meal) onto pizza stone (which should have been heated for at least 30 minutes at 500 degrees) and bake for 8 to 12 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan.
  7. Repeat with the two other rounds.

A wonderful pizza topped with greens. 5 stars. In fact, my palate hung with starlight, and I hope that afterwards I went on and ate the day.

2 thoughts on “White Pizza with Spinach and Ricotta

  1. I adore that poem, and the mental image I have of you sitting by the sea on Whidbey Island yesterday! That pizza looks marvelous. I’m seeing visions of you and KP running a cafe in your post-medical and teaching careers – an “encore career”, perhaps? 🙂

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