Ask a foodie about the Amalfi Coast and lemons immediately spring to mind. The sweet, aromatic, large and thick-skinned sfusato Amalfitano is the extraordinary and delectable citrus fruit that Gennaro Contaldo grew up with.
Lemons were and still are a part of daily life for locals of the Amalfi Coast, and Gennaro continues this tradition in his everyday cooking. From a sliver of zest in his morning espresso to helping with minor ailments and even household chores, lemons have a wealth of uses.
No part of the lemon is wasted—flesh, pith, and skin are chopped into salads, juice is drizzled over meat, fish, and veggies, while the aromatic zest adds a complexity to a dish’s flavour. Even the leaves are used to wrap meat, fish and cheese for extra flavour, or finely chopped and made into a tea infusion.
Lemons can cleanse, refresh, preserve, “cook,” and add a vibrant flavour to dishes, giving colour and an uplifting aroma. Through vibrant recipes like Ravioli with Ricotta, Lemon, and Mint; Sicilian Chicken Involtini; Lemon Cookies; and Coffee and Lemon Semi-Freddo, this is a beautiful and inspiring homage to the most revered of fruit.
Chapters include: The Amalfi—a little history including stories of Gennaro’s childhood; Lemons in the kitchen; Salads & Appetizers; Pasta & Risotto; Meat & Fish; Veggie & Vegan; Dressings & Sauces; Desserts; and Drinks.
Lemon-infused pizza with sausage, mozzarella, and arugula
Pizza al limone con salsiccia, mozzarella e rucola
On the Amalfi coast, where large, sweet lemons are in abundance, pizzas are made with slices of lemon and provola, a local smoked cheese. As Amalfi lemons are not easily obtainable, I decided to make an alternative lemon pizza with zest in the dough and in the topping, and a squeeze of juice on the arugula at the end. The combination of lemon, sausage, onion, and rosemary works really well, and the arugula sprinkled on top adds to the lovely lemony freshness-try it on different pizzas!
Makes 2 large or 4 smaller pizzas
For the dough
4 cups (500 g) white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
¼ oz (7 g) envelope instant yeast
1 tsp sea salt
zest of 2 lemons
approx. 1 ⅓ cups (325 ml) lukewarm water
For the topping
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, finely sliced
9 oz (250 g) Italian pork sausages, skins removed and meat crumbled
a few rosemary sprigs
2 balls fresh mozzarella (approx. 9 oz/250 g)
zest of 1 lemon
2 handfuls of arugula
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
First make the dough. Combine the flour, yeast, salt, and lemon zest, and gradually stir in enough of the lukewarm water to make a dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, cover with a cloth, and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into 2 or 4 pieces (depending on what size pizzas you are making) and knead each one on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes. Place on a lightly floured baking pan, cover with a cloth, and leave to rest in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, make the topping. Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion, and sweat for a couple of minutes over medium heat. Stir in the sausage meat, rosemary, and some salt and pepper, and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Slice the mozzarella into small pieces and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Take each piece of dough and flatten to make a pizza base (as thin as you like), top with the sausage mixture, scatter with the pieces of mozzarella, grate the lemon zest all over it, and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the base is cooked and golden.
Toss the arugula in a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Remove the pizzas from the oven, top with dressed arugula, and serve.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Interlink Books.