Around this time every year, after I've eaten my first few ears of sweet corn right off the cob, I start to crave Ina Garten's Fresh Corn Salad. Like all of Ina's famous recipes, this one is elegant in its simplicity: just corn, red onion, and basil in a cider vinaigrette. And though it might not seem earth-shattering, the theory behind it—that good-quality ingredients require very little fuss in the kitchen—helped lay the groundwork for my homespun cooking education.
This week, I give you the pizza-fied version of my favorite summer salad, with feta instead of cider vinegar and basil–garlic scape pesto. You'll probably need to go to the farmers' market to find garlic scapes anyway, so why not buy all the ingredients while you're there? Trust me: Locally grown, in-season corn and uncured red onions will make a huge difference. (Bonus points if you can find fresh-made feta cheese! Mine came from Hidden Hills Dairy, up in Everett, PA.)
Fresh Corn Pizza (with basil–garlic scape pesto, red onion, and feta)
Makes one 12-inch pizza
- 1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves, plus a handful for garnish
- 1/4 cup finely chopped garlic scapes (from 3 scapes)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball Basic Pizza Dough (or pre-made dough)
- 1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels (from 1 large ear)
- 2 tablespoons minced red onion
- 1 cup (1/4 cup) crumbled feta cheese
Place your pizza stone (if using) on an oven rack about 8 inches from the broiler. If you plan to cook your pizza on a baking sheet, place a rack in the middle of the oven (you do not need to preheat the baking sheet). Preheat the oven to 500°F and let it heat up for at least 30 minutes while you make the dough and/or prepare the toppings.
To prep the toppings: In the bowl of a food processor (or with a mortar and pestle), combine the 1/2 cup of basil, garlic scapes, olive oil, and a big pinch of salt. Process until the mixture forms a smooth paste, and stream in more oil as needed to reach your desired texture. Taste the pesto and add a few grinds of black pepper and more salt if needed. Set aside.
To stretch/roll out the dough: Dust the ball of dough with flour and place it on a well-floured work surface. Using your hands or a rolling pin, gently stretch or roll the dough into a 12-inch disk.
If you’re using a pizza stone: Dust a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet generously with flour or cornmeal. Place the dough disk on the prepared peel.
If you're using a baking sheet: Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the dough disk on the prepared baking sheet.
To top the pizza: Spoon the pesto onto the dough and use a pastry brush to spread it evenly, leaving a 1/2-inch border of dough all around. Scatter on the corn and onion, and sprinkle the feta over all.
To bake the pizza: If you're using a pizza stone, 10 minutes before you are ready to cook the pizza, increase the oven heat to broil. Slide the pizza from the peel (or inverted baking sheet) to the hot stone using quick shimmying movements. Broil the pizza for 5 to 7 minutes until the crust is golden and the cheese just begins to brown. Using the peel or inverted baking sheet, transfer the cooked pizza to a cutting board. If you are making more than one pizza, allow the pizza stone to reheat under the broiler for 5 minutes before you cook the next one.
If you're using a baking sheet, do not increase the oven to broil. Place the baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the oven and bake at 500°F for about 10 minutes, until the crust is golden and the cheese just begins to brown.
Let the pizza rest for 5 minutes, then tear the remaining basil leaves and scatter them on top. Slice and serve.