Lemon Mozzarella Pizza with a Rioja Tomato Basil Sauce and flaky crust, of course.


Sometimes I just don't feel like going to the grocery store. Sometimes the surrounding walls of my apartment are all too comforting. But sometimes, I get really hungry. In some of my most proud cooking moments, I whip up some interesting recipes with the scattered ingredients that I have laying around in my kitchen. After you see the surprising list of items I already had in my kitchen, you're probably going to think I'm a drunkard Italian.


1 pie crust (homemade is better, but I was being lazy.)

1 phyllo pie crust (I like my pizza with a little crunch.)

8 small tomatoes on the vine (I use the minis because I like the texture the tomato skin adds to the sauce.)

3 cloves garlic (Between you and me, I don't mind the smell garlic leaves on my hands after shucking these guys out of their little shells. It smells like delicious hard work.)

1/2 cup Rioja/Tempranillo (I'm wine loyal, not brand loyal.)

10 crushed basil leaves (I really wanted to say "ripped", because you're ripping the leaves in half to bring out the flavor. But "ripped" is not a proper cuisinerie word. Neither is cuisinerie.)

1/4 cup EVOO

1 tbsp. truffle oil

1 tsp. dried sage

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1 tsp. dried thyme, plus 1 tsp.

1/2 tsp. turmeric

1/2 tsp. ground ginger, plus 1 tsp.

3 dashes cayenne pepper, plus 3 dashes

1 tsp. cracked black pepper, plus 1/2 tsp.

2 tsp. sea salt, plus 1/2 tsp.

1/2 block fresh mozzarella or queso fresco (I actually used queso fresco. It's easier to obtain in my neighborhood grocery of Dominican natives.)

1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (Extra cheese goo, please.)

1 whole lemon (Despite what your grandmother told you, acidity balances everything.)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the pie dough evenly over a greased pizza pan. Leave more dough on the perimeter to act as a crust/sauce barrier.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is very lightly browned.

Take out of oven and add a layer of phyllo dough over top, kneading the two doughs together. (Be careful, as the dough will be hot right out of the oven.)

Bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the phyllo dough has started to get crispy.

Dice the tomatoes and garlic and add to a small sauce pan with both olive oil and truffle oil, Rioja, and all spices.

Let stew on medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until all ingredients are cohesively blended together, stirring occasionally. Once it starts looking pretty saucy, remove from heat.

Spread the tomato sauce evenly overtop of the dough.

Cut thin slices of the fresh mozzarella (or queso fresco) and add sporadically overtop of the sauce.

In a medium bowl mix the shredded mozzarella with all of the "plus" spices. Add over top of the fresh mozzarella (or queso fresco).

Slice the lemon into very thin slices, including the rind. Add the lemon slices overtop of the pizza, spreading evenly throughout.

Place in oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted and lightly browned.

Remove from oven and let cool. Since the dough will be flaky, cut large triangular pieces and transfer onto a plate with a spatula.