So often, the simplest things in life are the best–and that especially holds true when talking about pizza. When I think back to the best pizzas I’ve ever experienced, it’s so much more about the quality of just a few pristine ingredients than piling a lot of stuff on. And when I’ve eaten pizza in Italy, this lighter hand with toppings is fully on display–even a simple combination of fresh tomatoes and garlic with a drizzle of olive oil can be transportive, especially on a perfectly charred, blistering crust. This spinach ricotta pizza was inspired by one that’s in my favorite cookbook for pizzas, Gjelina: Cooking from Venice, California. After experimenting through the years, I’ve made a few updates that for me, equal perfection. Watch the recipe below, then scroll on for the step-by-step recipe for making my spinach ricotta pizza with garlicky olive oil.
First, let’s talk crust.
In my opinion, that’s the most important part of any great pizza. This recipe begins with my signature easy homemade pizza dough, and then I decide if I’m going to bake or grill my pizza. For this recipe, I decided to bake it in the oven since I know that’s the option that works best for most people. But if you’re interested in learning our grilling method, don’t worry: it’s coming soon.
Since you’ll be sliding your topped pizza dough right from your peel onto a preheated pizza stone in the oven, you’ll want to be liberal with flour on the board. Sticking is the enemy, so add enough flour so it can easily slide right off. Once you’ve stretched the dough, which I explain here, it’s time to add your toppings.
Time for toppings.
First: garlic confit. Two words that will change your life. It’s a game-changing condiment that you can always keep on hand to top pizzas, sandwiches, toasts, and blend into salad dressings, and it really couldn’t be easier. You add several peeled garlic cloves to a shallow baking dish, cover with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and a few fresh herbs. Bake low and slow until the garlic is soft and caramelized sweet. Done!
This garlicky olive oil goes all over the top of your pizza dough, along with several of the soft, sweet garlic cloves, forming the “sauce”–there are no tomatoes in this pizza, and I promise you won’t miss them.
The rest of the toppings are all about simplicity. You add handfuls of fresh spinach on top of your garlicky base, and it cooks right down in the oven (trust me: use more than you think you’ll need!) Then a blend of fresh whole milk ricotta and fresh mozzarella add a slightly sweet creaminess that melts over the top of it all.
Garnish with a few fresh basil leaves, another drizzle of olive oil (’cause, why not?) and some crushed red pepper flakes. That bit of heat is so good on this pizza. The result is herbacious, garlicky, and spicy and comes together as so much more than the sum of its parts.
Since by this point, I’m literally drooling as I revisit these images, let me describe the experience of eating this pizza. The charred, blistering pizza crust crackles as you sink your teeth into your first bite, then gives way to a chewiness that is exactly what pizza should be. The spinach is cooked down and sweet without feeling at all heavy, and the richness of the cheese oozes over everything. If you haven’t gotten the full mental image yet, just picture what heaven tastes like, and you’ve basically got it.
Baked spinach ricotta pizza with a crispy crust and creamy cheese topping and shower of basil leaves on top? It’s the pizza topping combination you didn’t know you needed in your life, but you’ll be so glad it’s finally here.
If you make it, be sure to leave a comment and a rating, and tag me on Instagram so I can see your version. Scroll on for the recipe…