Monday, November 16, 2009

UnRecipe: Fantasy Island Pizza

In the mind's eye, picture a tropical breeze, a perfectly serene beach, and the Smoove-B stylings of Mr. Rourke in his impeccable white suit to greet guests and present a pizza that looks somewhat like the one in the photo below. Not that it's such a wonderous thing that deserves a place on television's Fantasy Island, but more like when someone orders a "Hawaiian Pizza," I'm fairly sure it's only a fantasy that people in Hawaii are keen to order the combo of canned pineapple and soggy ham. Not to burst anyone's bubble, but they like their pizzas like everyone else: cheesy, meaty, and delivered in under thirty minutes before their beer gets warm. But it is one of Mr. Wasabi's favorites, and I felt this casual comfort deserved to be gussied-up a bit, so inspired by some pantry goods and our recent vacation, a Spiced Pineapple, Black Forest Ham, and Sundried Tomato Pesto Flatbread was created. Look, Boss! It's de pizza!

Eat your heart out, Ricardo Montalban, King of Khan - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Trader Joes was the driving force behind this dish. It's a great store, full of amazing things you never knew you needed, but can't live without, and after bringing them home, you're not totally sure how to live with them either. Organic heirloom cherry tomatoes? Individually-sized Greek yogurt cups? Frozen pot de creme? My personal weakness is their snack aisle (Chili Lime Cashews, you complete me), and came across a package of their dried pineapple with chili spice. I had no idea what it tasted like or what I would do with it. By the Power of Compulsive Shopping, I had to have it!

Flash forward months later when I realize we've accumulated too many random items in the pantry, it's time to cook our way through this smorgasbord, and I recognize the package of red spice-flecked pineapple chunks. I thought as a joke, they would make for a fancy Hawaiian pizza, but the joke got less and less funny as I thought it may not taste like total crap.

In an UnRecipe-like fashion, I collected items I thought would be a good fit, but in atypical fashion, I actually started jotting things down. Why? I don't know -- let's just call it preparation for Thunderdome. I did use a flatbread recipe from Epicurious by Ben Ford, which was a nice return to breadmaking. The rest of it was a MacGyver meal of throwing together things and hoping I didn't end up making a pipe bomb instead of a pizza.

Kickin' it with Flava-FLAV: spicy pineapple, sundried tomato pesto and heavenly ham - Photo by Wasabi Prime

While the flatbread dough rose, I had enough time to make a simple pesto from sundried tomatoes. For the cheese, I chose fresh mozzarella, as it melts nicely, stringy-good, and the flavor won't compete with the other elements. I went back and forth on the ham, wondering if I should use proscuitto or not, but went with Black Forest as it's a bit meatier and not as salty. Because the spiced pineapple chunks were so strongly seasoned with chili and ginger, I didn't want it to be a Fight Club of flavors.

Once baked, the finished flatbreads were a satisfying combination of savory and sweet. The dry pineapple chunks soak up the surrounding moisture, so they soften by the time it's baked. The crust was doughy with a good bite to it, a delicious reminder that making bread isn't so difficult and very much worth the effort. I don't have a pizza stone, but was still able to get the small paddle-shaped flatbreads done with a bit of crispness. The small shapes bake up quickly, which is good since they need to be baked prior to adding the pesto and toppings.

I often felt like the "Hawaiian Pizza" was akin to a plain pepperoni and cheese pizza -- boring and overdone. Approaching something I'm not excited about and finding a way to make it more interesting was a nice experiment that yielded delicious results.

Heavenly ham and el diablo pineapple combine forces! - Photos by Wasabi Prime

Fancy Fantasy Island Flatbreads
(makes 8 small flatbreads)

*use flatbread recipe from Epicurious

flatbread toppings
8 oz fresh mozzarella, torn into 8 segments
8 slices of Black Forest ham
1 package of spiced dried pineapple from Trader Joe's

sundried tomato pesto
3 0z bag of sundried tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp chopped oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Waiting for bread to rise and/or bake, take tomatoes and garlic and pulse in a food processor until rendered to small, even-sized pieces. Add spices and let food processor break everything down into small bits before slowly adding the olive oil. Continue to mix in food processor until consistency is like a paste.

When flatbreads are done baking, remove from oven and reduce temperature to 350 degrees F. Spread the pesto on the flatbreads and divide the cheese, ham and pineapple across the eight flatbreads. Place back into the oven and let the cheese melt and brown slightly before serving. Commence omming and nomming.

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  1. Wow, that looks really good. We also have a Hawaiian Pizza here. They are basically fresh pineapple chunks and processed ham which is very popular among Filipinos. Never really like it because of the ham. :) But after reading this post, you just changed my mind about having my own Hawaiian pizza but not too sure about getting those spiced dried pineapple. But would definitely like to use Black Forest Ham which is one of my favorites.

  2. totally loved what you did to the Hawaiin pizza and how you wrote about it in this post. Totally hilarious. :-)

  3. Holy S$(T, that looks amazing! YES PLEASE!!!

  4. Awesome post. I could eat a whole pie myself. I love Hawaiian pizza, though just came around to it recently. The Kilauea Bakery on Kauai does a great version--their island stylin' pizza--it's got a good hot kick to it.

  5. The flat bread crust looks amazing. The chili pineapple is really interesting. How do you like them? It's a great twist on the Hawaiian pizza. And you food shots are beautiful!

  6. Your flatbread looks ridiculously delicious. I've always enjoyed making my own pizza at home because I can control the ingredients and be creative. Your photos are amazing - you captured them well!

  7. OMG, I hope Fantasy Island can bring me to those pizzas! haha..... They look so scrumptious!

  8. Um, yes please?! I adore spicy pineapple. It is such a perfect combination of addicting flavors. And you went and put it on a pizza! Brilliant. I just drooled a little... Gross.


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