Thu Mar 5, 2020
My wife and I have a Friday night tradition of splitting a pie at our favorite local pizza shop, Pizzeria Toro, then catching the Retro double feature at the Carolina Theatre. Usually we're fairly agreeable on toppers and picking a pie to split is not an issue, but there are a few sticky topping choices, one of them being olives. I'm in the anti-olives camp, so when a lemon and olive pizza came on the menu that my wife wanted, I resisted the first couple times she asked to get it. On the third request though I relented and then was instantly sorry I pushed back on pervious visits because it was one incredibly simple, yet super effective, topping combination and became our favorite pizza at Toro.
One reason we like Toro is that they change up their menu constantly, which means that lemon and olive pie was only there for less than two months and only make sporadic reappearances. So, if I want to have it more often, I have to take matters into my own hands. And that's exactly what I've done a couple times in recent months to both get another taste of it and also share the pizza's greatness with family and friends.
I used the trusty Neapolitan dough recipe from Kenji for these pies, which has the advantage of being super easy—just mix the ingredients together, no kneading—but requires pre-planning—after an initial 8 to 12 hour rise at room temperature, another two to five days of rising is required in the fridge. The wait is well worth it though for a dough that has a nice tang to it and a light, but slightly chewy texture that totally holds up against the best pizzerias out there, in my opinion.
For the lemons, the Meyer variety is used here for its sweeter flavor compared to the standard lemon. When I first got this pie and saw whole slices, rind and all, on the pizza, I wondered if you could even eat it, but rest assured that there's no issue using the entire lemon here. To get the super thin slices, I thought a mandoline would do the job, but that just ended up disintegrating the innards, so I switched to using a sharp knife to slice up the lemons.
At Toro, they utilized Saracena olives, but I could not find this Italian variety of black olives anywhere, so relented on my search and picked up the more standard Kalamatas, which are saltier than Saracenas, but tasted just as good in the end. The dough was super easy to top here since it only required fresh mozzarella, the lemon slices, and the pitted olives.
Once assembled, into the blazing hot KettlePizza the pizza went and a mere couple minutes later, out it came with a beautifully browned crust and well melted cheese. I highly recommend the KettlePizza attachment to get restaurant-quality results at home, but assuming most people do not own this grill attachment, you can make these pizzas in the oven on the hottest setting and using a pizza stone—just be sure to let the oven warm up with the stone inside for about an hour for maximum heat retention.
I gave my pizzas a sprinkling of parmesan and drizzle of Meyer lemon juice before serving, although I'm not sure if either of these additions were done on the inspirational pie. It did, however, taste pretty damn close to what we had got at Toro—the lemon had a bright and vibrant citrus flavor whose light sweetness was contrasted by the salty and briny olives. This interplay is very effective and, while the toppings look limited, the flavor overall is very full and incredible. Our friends and family that we've made these pies for have also agreed with us on how good it is, and I hope y'all give it a shot at home to help spread the gospel of lemon and olive pizzas!
Meyer Lemon and Olive Pizza
- Prep Time:
- 15 Minutes
- Inactive Time:
- 3 Days
- Cook Time:
- 3 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 3 Days 18 Minutes
- 4 servings
- For the Dough
- 20 ounces (about 4 cups) bread flour, preferably Italian-style "OO"
- .4 ounces kosher salt (about 4 teaspoons)
- .3 ounces (about 2 teaspoons) instant yeast
- 13 ounces water
- For the Pizza
- 2 Meyer lemons, very thinly sliced
- 3/4 pounds pitted Saracena or Kalamata olives
- 12 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated
- 2 ounces finely grated parmesan
- 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice, from 1 lemon
- To make the dough: Combine flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl and whisk until homogenous. Add water and incorporate into flour using hands until no dry flour remains on bottom of bowl. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.
- Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and divide into four even balls. Place each in a covered quart-sized deli container or in a zipper-lock freezer bag. Place in refrigerator and allow to rise at least 2 more days, and up to 4.
- To make the pizza: 2 hours prior to cooking, remove dough from refrigerator, shape into balls, and allow to rest at room temperature, covered, for at least 2 hours before baking. Heat KettlePizza or pizza oven to 950°F. Alternatively, set a baking stone or Baking Steel on upper middle rack in oven and heat on highest setting possible for 45 minutes. Stretch dough into a 12" round. Spread on a layer of mozzarella and top with lemon slices and olives.
- Place pizza in pizza oven and cook for 2-3 minutes, rotating pizza for even cooking as necessary. Alternatively, place pizza on baking stone or steel in heated oven and cook until crust is baked through and mozzarella is melted, 7-10 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle on parmesan, drizzle on about a teaspoon of lemon juice, and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining dough and ingredients.