Citrus adds snap to this peppery, salty treat from Corkscrew Café in California’s Carmel Valley. Make it at home with fresh or prepared dough.
Meyer Lemon Pizza with Arugula and Prosciutto from Corkscrew Café, Carmel Valley, Calif. Requested by Via reader Pam McCullough Garcia of Hollister, Calif.
When well-meaning neighbors came calling with four huge shopping bags brimming with just-picked Meyer lemons from their overladen trees, Walter and Sylvia Georis knew exactly what to do: make pizza.
Sylvia Georis, co-owner with her husband of the 15-year-old Corkscrew Café in Carmel Valley, turned that bounty into plenty of lemonade, lemon cake, and preserved lemons. But she also knew that the fragrant lemons, sliced thin, would make a dynamite and unexpected topping for pizza baked in a wood-fired oven and draped with salty prosciutto, gooey cheese, and peppery arugula.
For two weeks, the Georises made Meyer lemon pizza just for fun, handing out little morsels to diners waiting for dinner in the bright, Provençal-themed café (55 W. Carmel Valley Rd., 831-659-8888, corkscrewcafe.com) and to customers enjoying wine in the adjacent Georis Winery tasting room (4 Pilot Rd., 831-659-1050, georiswine.com), their shared garden abloom with roses and wisteria. The pizza proved such a hit that diners began ordering it in the café, even though it wasn’t on the menu. Finally, in spring 2010, the pizza got an official menu listing and has been selling briskly for $14 a pie.
“You go into panic mode when you see all those lemons,” says Walter Georis with a chuckle. “People started ordering the pizza right away. Then they’d start telling me about their own lemon trees.”
Walter, a restaurant designer, has been a restaurateur since 1974, and three years later opened the well-known Casanova in Carmel-by-the-Sea (Fifth Avenue between Mission and San Carlos, 831-625-0501, casanovarestaurant.com). The Georis family also owns the rustic French restaurant La Bicyclette in downtown Carmel (Dolores Street at Seventh Avenue, 831-622-9899, labicycletterestaurant.com).
Look for the new pizza on the menu at Corkscrew until the couple runs out of Meyer lemons (the season runs from November through April)—or make it yourself at home. For a shortcut, buy prepared (fresh or frozen) pizza dough and follow the directions for the toppings.
“People think the lemon will make the pizza bitter,” Walter says. “But with the other ingredients, it’s really a perfect combination. It tastes light. Once you finish one slice, you just want to eat another.”
Meyer Lemon Pizza with Arugula and Prosciutto Makes one 14- to 16-inch pizza or two 8-inch pizzas Adapted with permission from Walter Georis, Corkscrew Café
Dough: 2 teaspoons active dry yeast 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour ¾ cup warm water (105° to 155°F) Pinch of sugar 1 ½ teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Toppings: 1 Meyer lemon, thinly sliced 4 slices of prosciutto 1 handful grated mozzarella cheese, or about 1 cup ¼ handful grated Parmigiano, or about ¼ cup ½ handful arugula leaves, or about 1 cup 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1. In a small bowl, stir together the yeast, 1 tablespoon flour, ¼ cup warm water, and pinch of sugar. Mix and let stand about 5 to 10 minutes until mixture has started to foam.
In a large bowl, stir together 1 ¼ cups flour with salt. Add yeast mixture, olive oil, and remaining ½ cup warm water; stir until smooth. Add enough flour (about ½ cup) to make dough come away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will still be rather wet at this point.
2. Remove dough from bowl. Divide in two if making two pizzas. Shape into balls and place on a board or counter. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
3. Heat a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven for an hour at 500°F, or heat an unrimmed cooking sheet in a preheated oven for five minutes.
4. Pat dough ball into a thin circle. If making one large pizza, sprinkle half the mozzarella over the dough, spread prosciutto over mozzarella, then layer lemon slices on top without covering the prosciutto completely. Next, add the rest of the mozzarella over the lemon, followed by all the Parmigiano. If making two smaller pizzas, divide the toppings accordingly.
5. Place the pizza on the pizza stone or cooking sheet in the oven. Bake until crust is golden and slightly darkened around the edges, and cheese is bubbling, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven.
6. Scatter arugula over the top of the pizza, then drizzle with a little extra-virgin olive oil. Cut into slices and serve.
Photography by Anita Bowen
This article was first published in July 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.