Spinach, Feta & Tomato Whole Wheat Pizza

It’s a weird time of year to be talking about pizza, I’ll admit. If it’s hot and humid where you are and you can’t even look at the oven without breaking into a sweat, you can either bake your pizza outdoors on the grill or tuck this one away for autumn — it will still be delicious. But here in LA, the June gloom has hung on through July, so cranking up the heat on my oven doesn’t feel like such a big deal.

(I won’t be saying this in September or October. That’s when I get real sweaty and cranky.)

Before it becomes a habit, making homemade pizza feels like a big deal — the yeast, the kneading, the special stone — but once you get the hang of it, mixing up a batch of dough a couple hours (or a day) before dinner time is not terribly difficult. Yet pulling a blistered, browned pizza made with your very own hands out of the oven never fails to thrill.

Pizzas don’t have to be dripping with cheese or covered with salty meats; they happen to be an excellent vehicle for all kinds of vegetables and don’t need a ton of cheese to be tasty. This particular pie was born on a weeknight when I needed to use up some fading baby spinach and had just stumbled onto a container of forgotten feta in brine at the back of my fridge. I didn’t have any tomato sauce, so I just used a swipe of olive oil over the dough to moisten it and arranged some halved cherry tomatoes on top of the spinach, which I wilted with a little garlic.

It’s simple, very green and was totally worth warming up my kitchen on a not-too-hot day. And since my Whole Wheat Pizza Dough recipe makes two balls, you’ll have a second one left over for dinner the next day. Should you be in the mood for something a little more cheesy and salty, I’m a fan of crispy prosciutto and arugula.

Spinach, Feta & Tomato Whole Wheat Pizza

Yield: One 10-inch pizza, serves 2

{ Ingredients }

1 ball Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 cups baby spinach
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
Salt to taste

{ Directions }

Preheat your oven to maximum heat (475°F or higher) for at least 30 minutes. Place a pizza stone or heavy sheet pan in the middle rack of the oven while it preheats.

Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan and add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until sizzling and fragrant. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt and cook until wilted.

On a well-floured cutting board or a piece of parchment paper, roll or stretch the dough into a rough circle. (My pizzas always end up rectangular somehow. Whatever, it's fine.) Brush crust with remaining tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Spread cooked spinach over crust and sprinkle with half of the feta. Arrange the tomatoes on top and sprinkle with remaining feta. Transfer the pizza to the pizza stone or sheet pan (still on the parchment, if you used it) and bake for 7-10 minutes, or until feta is hot and soft, and the crust is nicely browned.

• If possible, used feta in brine. It's so much nicer than the pre-crumbled, dry stuff.