I don’t know about anyone else, but I kind of go through these phases when I’ll frequent one grocery store more than most. My default setting is to always go to Trader Joe’s, but lately I’ve been too exhausted to make that extra trek after work or battle with the infrequent light rail schedule on the weekends, so I’ve stayed closer to home. With stores like Grocery Outlet just a mile away and with help from Safeway’s little Just 4 U program (that thing is seriously awesome for extra savings), I’ve done pretty well.
But I miss my “nut & twig food” (as one of my friends likes to call it). It’s weird to me to be in a store without an ample amount of healthy food options, so I’ve been spending a lot more time at the Co-op. Granted, the prices aren’t exactly Poor Girl-friendly most days, but after checking out their specials and shopping carefully, I’ve found ways – other than sticking to the bulk section – to make the Co-op work for me.
On a recent trip to pick up some of the aforementioned bulk items (can’t pass up farro in bulk and on sale!), I made a quick stop in the produce department and discovered their dried mushroom section. I don’t know how I’d never noticed it before, but there they are, in charming glass containers, right next to the uber-expensive-but-ever-so-tempting black truffles. Dried shitakes, porcinis – even morels have been right there before my eyes, some of them for just over $2/oz!
Wait a minute, Poor Girl – $2 for an ounce of something seems like a lot of money.
True. It seems like a lot of money. But when you consider that mushrooms don’t weigh much to begin with, and dried ones have obviously had their water weight sucked out of them, there’s really not much to those little guys. I ended up picking up about a half ounce of each and only spent about $3.50 or so. Not bad when you consider that volume-wise, that’s a lot of tasty, meaty mushrooms!
There are a gazillion things I could have done with my little treasure trove of dried funghi, but I knew immediately that they needed to go on a pizza. With a super garlicky sauce. And something green. But not spinach, as I use that in a lot of things already. No, this needed something more, something with a little texture to it. All of this was running through my noggin as I meandered through the aisles of fruits & veggies, seeking that perfect green thing to add to my mega-mushroom pie. And then I saw the leeks.
It was one of those moments when the sky opens up and the heavenly hosts sing hallelujah because of the serendipity of it all. I’d just gone in there for something simple, but only $10 later (the leeks were on sale for $1.99 – a bit high in my world because I’m used to getting leeks for dirt cheap at the farmer’s market, but for the Co-op, it’s a valiant effort), I left with the makings of a pretty awesome pizza and the grain I’d originally sought.
This pizza is amazing because of its simplicity. No bells & whistles, just plenty of tasty veggies and a creamy, garlicky sauce. I basically modeled the sauce after the creamy herb concoction I used on my roasted sweet potato pizza and my Baked Potatoes Primavera, except that I omitted the herbs and cranked up the garlic factor. With the milder flavor of the leeks and the rich umami of all those mushrooms, there’s really not much more that you need on this thing. In fact, I was so taken with how it looked after its assembly that I completely forgot to add the cheese! This didn’t occur to me until about 10 minutes into baking, so I just decided to let it go. Once it came out of the oven & was cool enough to taste, I realized it didn’t even need the cheese, such was the amazing combination of flavors & textures. But I added a little bit anyway, because, well… it’s cheese, and it would be a sin to ignore such a perfect food.
I realize not all of you will have access to a store such as the Co-op with all it’s wonderful random products, so for those of you who do want to try this, please don’t be discouraged! A few loose fresh mushrooms of different varieties will work just as well. In fact, I used regular white & creminis on mine because I wanted the variety and often use them in other recipes. Other than that, there’s not much to note on this one! It’s a simple, delicious recipe that’s perfect for any time of the week. Let’s check it out!
Mixed Mushroom & Leek Pizza (makes 6-8 servings; total cost per serving: $1.75)
If using dried mushrooms, allow enough time to soak as some varieties, like shitakes, are tougher than others and will take a bit longer to be fully rehydrated.
6-8 oz. your favorite pizza dough
3 T creamy garlic sauce
1 c sliced mixed mushrooms of your choice
1 c chopped leeks (both white & green parts)
1/3 c grated cheese (optional)
Creamy Garlic Sauce
1/2 c light cream cheese, softened
2 T nonfat milk
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 t granulated garlic
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Prepare the creamy garlic sauce by combining all ingredients in a bowl and whisking together until smooth. Set aside.
2. Dust your hands & work surface with a small amount of flour. Working from the center of your ball of dough, gently stretch & shape it to the desired size & shape.
3. Brush the dough lightly with olive oil, spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the creamy garlic sauce on top. Spread over the surface, leaving about 3/4″ distance from the edge of the crust. Sprinkle with cheese, then add the mushrooms & leeks (I like to reserve a handful of the green parts to add at the end for crunch). If you’re using cheese, you can also add it at this time.
4. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until crust begins to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Sprinkle a few extra leeks on top if you like, garnish with plenty of freshly ground pepper, and enjoy!
Poor Girl’s Tip: If you’re reconstituting dried mushrooms for your pizza, don’t throw away that mushroom water! It makes the perfect base for a good mushroom stock that you can use in soups or sauces – and it’s free!