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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- Shape into smooth round ball and cover with a damp cloth. Let dough relax for at least 10 minutes (no more than 30 minutes)
- 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.
- Brush rolled out dough round with oil. Arrange 1/3 spinach mixture on the pizza, leaving ½ inch border uncovered. Dot with ricotta cheese.
- 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.
- 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.