CSA Week 8 - Cherry Tomato Pizza

This pizza comes together quickly with minimal ingredients, and has a smart alternative to making a sauce ahead of time.  Try it this weekend on the grill to celebrate the long holiday weekend!
It's Labor Day, so supposedly the summer is over.  School is starting (if you're involved with that racket, haha), pumpkin spice lattes are starting to rear their ugly head, and we can't wear white anymore.  Totally not something I follow.  But I digress.  Technically, we have until September 22nd for summer, and we are definitely still knee-deep in summer produce.  And I still have a backlog of posts to get to that celebrate summer fresh!
This pizza was one of my favorite things I've made.  No need for a separate sauce, the sliced tomatoes do that on their own, and if you're OCD and keep them all turned cut-side-up (and ombre red to yellow ahem), the juices will stay in their little tomato shell and roast up and be delicious and not soggy.  You really only need a few ingredients for this bama, and since I always keep a ball of pizza dough in my freezer, I had a very quick dinner.
I'm not ashamed to say I devoured this whole thing myself.  It was asking for it!  Especially after having made me slice up all of those cherry tomatoes on their own.
Above we see the lettuce for these lettuce wrap salads, and the tomatoes I used for the pizza!  I have more recipes for the apricots and spaghetti squash, but sadly that fennel taking over everything went soft and gross before I could get to it.  I totally didn't know how to store it, and I certainly didn't know what to do with it since I despise licorice flavor.  Luckily, I haven't had another one to haunt me yet, so cross your fingers.

Below, we see the gorgeous prep for the pizza.  The day before I make pizza, I have to remember to move the dough from the freezer to the fridge to thaw for a good 24 hours.  Then I spray a large bowl with cooking spray, place the dough in it, spray it with a bit of cooking spray as well, and cover it loosely with plastic wrap.  We need it to rise, so don't cover it tightly, just enough so it doesn't dry out on top.
This pizza was made with half of the dough, you'll see what I made with the other half!  I roughly shape things... sometimes the dough wants to be a rectangle, sometimes an oval, I just let things happen... then I brush it with olive oil and minced garlic.  A light sprinkle of red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, then we get to the tomatoes!  Lay them out, cut side up, and place pieces of fresh mozzarella evenly around the pizza.
A pizza stone and a super hot oven make this perfection.  We're part roasting the tomatoes, part making a sauce.  As long as the cheese is melted, we're done in about 10 minutes of cooking!
Cherry Tomato Pizza
serves 2-3  (easily doubled to use the whole amount of dough)

1/2 lb (1/2 ball from grocery store) pizza dough
Cornmeal or flour, for dusting the parchment paper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 pint cherry tomatoes (other small tomatoes will work in a pinch), sliced in half
4 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, either ciliegine or cut up into small pieces

Be sure to thaw your pizza dough 24 hours ahead of time, if applicable.

Place a pizza stone on a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees**.  Allow at least 30 minutes to come to this temperature, and in the meantime, you can prepare the pizza!

Set a piece of parchment paper on the counter (about the size of your pizza stone, or at least large enough to hold your pizza), and sprinkle evenly with about 1 tablespoon of cornmeal or flour.  Stretch and form your dough into a rough circle or oval shape, perfection is not important, and place on the prepared parchment paper.

In a small prep bowl, mix the olive oil and garlic, and brush evenly over the surface of the dough, especially over the edges.  Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes as desired.  Place the tomatoes cut-side-up on the dough, this will help trap the juices and keep you from having a soggy pizza in the end.  Place the fresh mozzarella evenly among the tomatoes, using more or less as desired.

Transfer the entire pizza and parchment paper to the oven and place on the pizza stone.  Cook for 8-12 minutes depending on the size of your pizza, until the cheese is bubbly and melted throughout, or until your level of desired done-ness.  I'm able to grab the edges of the parchment paper to transfer it safely out of the oven (pulling the oven rack out a bit helps), but using a pizza peel or similar would be safer.  Be careful and don't burn yourself please!  Allow to cool for several minutes before slicing and serving hot.

**Parchment paper usually states it is heat-safe to 450ish degrees.  I've never had an issue with parchment paper burning up in a 500 degree oven, but be aware of the risk and always be careful when using such a hot oven.

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