I’m sure you know who Ina Garten is, so I’ll spare the redundant blather. I will say, however, that I have a bit of a girl-crush on her. Polished and radiant, confident, not afraid to make a mistake and admit it, always smiling and seemingly untouchable in the kitchen. Ina is a dynamo: a distinguished career history, adoring husband, amazing home and garden – she even has a pilot’s license! Her food is accessible and cozy, her recipes simple to make and delicious. She doesn’t dumb down her cooking; rather raises expectations. I’d love to be in her close group of friends – brunches, bonfires and meals on the beach, or surprise visits from Ina, who comes bearing fabulous food gifts…

The other night Sandy and I were discussing our recent meals, when she caught my ear with one in particular. “Ina Garten’s White Pizza with Arugula. Easily one of the better things to come out of my kitchen.” Well I’m sold! [Actually she had me at Ina.] The recipe makes 6 small pizzas, and luckily for me there was herby garlic oil, greens, cheese and 2 dough balls left over! Ina notes that the dough, once prepared, should be used immediately or refrigerated for up to 4 hours. My 3-day-old dough* outshone the majority of doughs and prepared crusts I’ve ever had. Light, silky and easy to handle, producing a delicately crisp yet chewy, airy crust.

A preview recipe from her new cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, this pizza delivers. The thin crust is brushed with olive oil infused with garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes, topped by a gooey triad of cheeses – mozzarella, fontina and creamy goat cheese, and another drizzle of the oil before hitting a 500° F oven for 10-15 minutes. During the time your kitchen is filling with the aroma of baking crust and garlic, a simple salad is prepared by dressing arugula [we swapped in spinach] with a light lemon vinaigrette. Once crispy and browned, the pizza is pulled from the oven and cut [or not], greens mounded on top. Place on a lemon slice, sprinkle over a pinch of coarse sea salt and serve hot. In the infamous words of Ina: “How easy is that?

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This pizza is classy and overflowing with flavor. Incredible.

*Sandy had portioned the dough into 6 balls like Ina suggested, and placed each of the two remaining pieces in Ziploc bags before storing in the fridge.

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