I’m starting a difficult challenge tomorrow where, like last year’s SNAP challenge, I’m going to attempt to eat only $4.50 worth of food per day. I remember how hungry I was last year, so I kind of wanted to have one last indulgent hurrah just before I started the challenge. What’s the best indulgent food, IMHO? Pizza, of course. Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pizza, to be specific.
This isn’t just any pizza. This is a thick crust, crispy edged, pan pizza topped with a rich and creamy spinach sauce, chopped up artichoke hearts, and a final layer of melted mozzarella cheese. Ohhhhh yeeeahhhh.
I decided to make this pizza with the no-knead pan crust, which needs to be started the night before, but you could always do this on a regular pizza crust, or even a super fast thin crust. It’s up to you. I used a 10-inch lodge skillet, but these toppings are enough for a 12-inch pan pizza, or even a 14-inch regular crust pizza. It’s pretty flexible, so you can use your favorite type of crust. I think the thick, fluffy pan crust is perfect with this creamy sauce, though. MMmm.
Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pizza
- 2 cups all-purpose flour ($0.30)
- 1 tsp salt ($0.05)
- 1/8 tsp instant or bread machine yeast ($0.02)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
- 3/4-1 cup water ($0.00)
CREAMY SPINACH SAUCE
- 1/2 lb frozen chopped spinach ($0.85)
- 1 Tbsp butter ($0.10)
- 1 clove garlic ($0.08)
- 4 oz cream cheese ($1.00)
- 1/2 cup milk ($0.19)
- 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil ($0.02)
- 1/2 15 oz can artichoke hearts ($1.30)
- Pinch red pepper flakes (optional) ($0.05)
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella ($1.00)
- Begin the dough the night before. In a large bowl stir together the flour, salt, and yeast. Combine the olive oil and 3/4 cup water, then pour it into the bowl with the flour. Stir until a single (slightly wet and sticky) ball of dough forms with no dry flour left on the bottom of the bowl. Add one to two tablespoons more of water, if needed, to form a ball of dough. Loosely cover the dough and let it sit at room temperature for 12-18 hours.
- The next day let the spinach thaw and then squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and pour 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil into a 10 or 12-inch cast iron skillet. Spread the oil around the skillet, including up the side walls.
- To make the sauce, mince the garlic and add it to a small pot along with the butter. Sauté the butter and garlic for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant. Add the cream cheese, milk, and salt to the butter and garlic. Whisk and cook over medium-low heat until the cream cheese has melted into the milk and a thick sauce forms (3-5 minutes). Finally, stir the squeeze-dried spinach into the sauce, breaking up any clumps as you stir. Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.
- Use the excess oil from the skillet to coat your hands, then scrape the fermented dough out of the bowl. Gently press and stretch the loose dough into the skillet until it evenly covers the bottom.
- Spread the creamy spinach sauce over the dough, covering from edge to edge. Drain the artichoke hearts, give them a rough chop, then sprinkle over the creamy spinach sauce. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired. Finally, top the pizza with the shredded mozzarella.
- Bake the pizza in the fully preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are sizzling and the top is golden brown. Remove the pizza from the oven and slide a butter knife around the edges to loosen any melted cheese. Either slide the whole pizza onto a cutting board or carefully slice the pizza in the pan. Cut into six slices and serve.
Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pizza
Step by Step Photos
If you’re using the pan pizza dough that I used above, begin the night before. In a large bowl (or pot) stir together 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp instant or “bread machine” yeast. Combine 1 Tbsp olive oil and 3/4 cup water, then pour it into the bowl with the flour. Stir until a sticky ball of dough forms with no dry flour left on the bottom of the bowl. If needed, add one to two more tablespoons of water to help it come together in one single piece of dough.
Loosely cover the dough (that’s why I like using a pot, I just set the lid on slightly crooked) and let it sit at room temperature for 12-18 hours. As it ferments it will spread out and get very bubbly. It will still be quite sticky compared to most bread doughs.
On the day you’re making the pizza, take 1/2 lb. of frozen spinach out of the freezer to thaw (thaw at room temp, or in the microwave for a faster thaw).
Once the spinach is thawed, squeeze as much moisture out as possible. I just grab a handful and squeeeeze until no more liquid comes out.
Next it’s time to make the sauce (and begin preheating the oven to 450 degrees). Mince one clove of garlic. Add it to a small pot along with 1 Tbsp of butter. Sauté the garlic in the butter over medium-low heat until the garlic is soft and fragrant (about 1-2 minutes).
Add 1/2 cup milk, 4 oz. cream cheese, and 1/4 tsp salt to the butter and garlic. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, while whisking, until the cream cheese has melted in and a thick sauce has formed.
Add the squeeze dried spinach to the cream sauce and stir until it’s combined (break up any clumps of spinach as you stir). Remove the sauce from the heat and set it aside.
Spread 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a 10 or 12-inch cast iron skillet (including up the sides). Use the excess oil in the skillet to coat your hands, then scrape the dough out of its bowl. Carefully stretch and press the dough into the skillet until it evenly covers the bottom.
Spread the spinach cream sauce over the dough from edge to edge.
Drain one 15oz. can of artichoke hearts. Take half of the can and give them a rough chop (the other half can be frozen or used for a second pizza).
Sprinkle the chopped artichoke hearts over the pizza. If you like things a little spicy like me, sprinkle on a few red pepper flakes.
Finally, top with one cup of shredded mozzarella.
Bake the Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pizza for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are sizzling and the top is golden brown. Use a butter knife to loosen around the edges where cheese may have melted onto the skillet. Slide the pizza onto a cutting board or carefully slice it while in the pan.
Cut the Creamy Spinach Artichoke Pizza into six pieces and serve! This is pretty rich and filling, so two pieces goes a lot further than you think. ;)