anchovy fillets

Women in Pizza: Sophia Loren

**In honor of Women’s History Month, I’ll be posting about women in the pizza industry every few days in March. The pizza biz is pretty male-dominated, but its past is sprinkled with major influence from women in both Italy and the United States. 

We can’t talk about women in pizza without starting with Sophia Loren. She became an actress in the 1950s with a string of successful films, including L’oro di Napoli (The Gold of Naples) in 1954. She plays a pizza maker who loses her wedding ring. In the film, she demonstrated a style of pizza making that’s historically female-dominated. Women would set up a pot of oil over a flame and fry thin cakes of dough. This pizza was served as street food or, as in L’oro di Napoli, delivered to neighbors in higher apartments via rope and bucket. There’s some great pizza making in that movie!

But that’s just the beginning of Loren’s love of pizza. She wrote several cookbooks and talked about pizza A LOT. It’s pretty amazing. Sophia’s love of food helped her become one of the most loved actresses in Italy, particularly in the South. She’s even featured on a Neapolitan pizza box alongside her colleague Antonio de Curtis aka Totò. 

Sophia Loren spoke publicly about eating well but also eating healthy. On that note, here’s Sophia Loren’s fried pizza alla Napoletana recipe:

DOUGH: (I prefer weight measures but she gives volume so we’ll deal.)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (add more if dough is wet)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 package active dry yeast dissolved in 1 and ¼ cups lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

TOPPING:

  • Tomato sauce or canned marinara sauce or peeled chopped tomatoes
  • Mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • Small tin fillet anchovies or sweet sliced Italian sausage, salami or thin strips proscuitto ham
  • Dried sweet basil
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Combine water and yeast. Knead thoroughly, adding salt and oil after combining flour and yeasty water. Continue kneading until smooth.  Place in lightly oiled bowl, cover.  Set in warm place about 3 hours, or until dough doubles in bulk.  Flatten, roll out dough into a 10 inch thick disk, about ¼ inch thick. Heat olive oil in large cast-iron skillet. When oil is sizzling, add pizza, cook over medium flame about 10 minutes until golden and topping is bubbly.  Serve immediately.

How to cook Pasta Puttanesca:

Ingredients:

  • 1 35-ounce can of Tuttorosso Italian-style peeled plum-shaped tomatoes
  • 3 or more cloves garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
  • 3 or more anchovy fillets
  • ½ cup pitted, oil-cured black olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • Salt, chili powder and berbere (not pepper)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound “interestingly-shaped” pasta (I used both thin spaghetti and rotini)
  • Chopped fresh parsley and basil leaves for garnish

1. Bring pot of water to boil and salt it. Warm 2 tablespoons oil with garlic and anchovies in skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is lightly golden and anchovies are brown and melty.

2. Drain tomatoes and crush with fork. Add to skillet with a light sprinkle of berbere. Raise heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down and mixture becomes saucy, about 10 minutes. Stir in olives, capers and chili powder, and continue to simmer.

3. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until it is tender. Drain quickly and toss with sauce and remaining tablespoon of oil. The fresh basil is highly recommended, if only to make your kitchen smell like a dream.

The aroma is peppy and sharp, lending credit to the the legend of luring customers. The salty anchovy-caper-olive combination packs a punch, so don’t over-salt without tasting. For extra authenticity, prepare the Baudelaires’ chocolate pudding for dessert.

GREEN GODDESS GRILLED CHEESE

Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Sandwich

based on all those gorgeous green goddesses out there…

makes 1 sandwich

Ingredients

2 slices bread (we used a white bread, but one filled with lots of different whole grains and seeds would be *awesome*)
2-3 tablespoons Green Goddess Herb Pesto (recipe below)
2 slices mild white melty cheese like mozzarella
handful fresh baby spinach
¼ avocado, sliced
2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
olive oil (and butter if you’re so inclined)

Directions

Spread about 1 tablespoon of Green Goddess Herb Pesto onto each slice of bread (2 tablespoons total, but if you’re sensitive, go light, the pesto is STRONG).

On one slice of bread, add 1 slice of cheese, sliced avocado, crumbled goat cheese, spinach, second slice of cheese, then top it with second slice of bread. Press together gently.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan over medium low heat. (If you want to use butter, add it to the oil and let it melt). Add the sandwich to the oil and cook until bread is golden brown. Press down on the sandwich lightly, then flip the sandwich over and cook until second side is golden brown.

Green Goddess Herb Pesto

Ingredients

1 clove garlic
1 (or 2 if you’re ballsy) anchovy fillet (in oil)
½ small shallot, chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
handful chopped fresh Italian parsley
handful chopped kale
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped chives
¼ cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Pulse garlic, anchovy, and shallot in food processor until chopped. With the food processor running, add lemon juice, parsley, kale, tarragon and chives. (It won’t process very well yet, don’t worry).

Very slowly drizzle in olive oil until kale and herbs get sufficiently chopped and everything is the consistency of a pesto. You may need more or less of the olive oil depending on how big a “handful” of herbs is to you. You can also turn off the food processor and push herbs down the side of the bowl with a spatula every once in a while.

Season to taste with salt and pepper (You probably won’t need too much salt if you used 2 anchovies).