Banana peppers, also called wax peppers, are firm, crisp, long peppers, usually yellow like bananas, but sometimes red or orange. Lightly sauteed and paired with salty salami and spicy fresh wild arugula, it makes this a pizza worthy of "gourmet" status. Serve it with a robust red wine or a crisp Italian beer. For a speedier version, use 1 pound store-bought dough. If you can't find wild arugula, use regular arugula instead.
Susan Russo for NPR
Susan Russo for NPR
Makes a 12-inch round pizza, about 8 slices
1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and let rest for 5 minutes. Using a spoon, gently stir in salt and sugar. Add 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon olive oil to start. Blend with a spoon just until the dough starts to form, then, using your hands, transfer to a floured surface. Knead well for a couple of minutes, adding flour if it's too sticky. The finished dough should be soft and smooth.
Place the dough in a large, clean bowl coated with olive oil and rub some olive oil on top of the dough. Cover with a clean, dry dishtowel and let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size (about 2 hours). Punch the dough down to release air bubbles. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface to roll out. If you like, you can let the rolled-out dough rest for about 30 minutes; it will rise slightly and create a puffier crust.
1/3 cup grated Reggiano-Parmigiano cheese, optional
Preheat oven to 500 degrees if using a pizza stone, or 450 if using a baking sheet.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a sheet of parchment paper (if using a stone) or to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with 1 teaspoon olive oil.
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil. Add pepper slices and cook about 5 minutes until lightly browned and tender.
Spread tomato sauce on dough, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle evenly with crushed red pepper flakes and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Add salami slices, then cooked peppers. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese.
For a pizza stone, bake for about 10 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is brown and the cheese is melted. For a baking sheet, bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust are brown and the cheese is melted. Top with fresh arugula and, if using, sprinkle with grated Reggiano-Parmigiano cheese before serving.