Four simple toppings work together beautifully on this light, flavorful pizza. Recipe below.
The new USDA dietary guidelines came down hard on pizza. In fact, as Jane Black reported in New York magazine, the report singles out pizza as one of the worst things we eat. It is “Americans’ No. 2 source of saturated fat and solid fats” and our “No. 3 source of sodium, beating out cold cuts and even bacon.”
Perversely, reading this made me want pizza. Not that I was craving saturated fats and sodium. It’s just that we rarely eat pizza, and this article reminded me just how delicious it is. So when I was looking around for something to do with the last of our recent windfall of Meyer lemons (thanks again, Christina!), I started thinking pizza.
Turns out I was in good company. Lots of people think Meyer lemons are good on pizza. Happily, beyond that, ideas were all over the place on what to put on the pizza and how to cook it. Red onions, garlic, prosciutto, rosemary, thyme, lemon thyme, olives, cauliflower, fresh corn, zucchini… Cheese choices were equally varied—Parmesan, mozzarella, feta, goat cheese, ricotta…
That meant I was free to experiment and come up with my own approach. And experiment I did, with Marion’s much appreciated input. The pizza in the photo above was actually my second shot at this. The first one was good; this one was better.
In the end, I settled on just four ingredients for the toppings: Meyer lemon, goat cheese, bacon and fresh chives. They all played together beautifully, if I say so myself. The mild creaminess of the goat cheese complemented the tart lemon bites perfectly. The bacon brought more to the party than mere salt, imparting a little sweet smokiness. And the chives added a light springlike oniony flavor instead of the bigger onion hit red onions might deliver. The overall effect was lively and flavorful, but not heavy.
Some Meyer lemon pizzas feature whole thin slices of lemon. Visually beautiful, but difficult to eat—you end up pulling entire slices of lemon off with a single bite (as I learned with my first attempt). For this version, I opted to quarter the slices. That way, you get lots of bright, lemony bites.
With our other recent Meyer lemon explorations—Meyer Lemon Sage Olive Oil Cake, Linguine with Scallops and Meyer Lemons and Cornish Hens with Meyer Lemons and Olives—regular lemons may be substituted. Not with this recipe. You eat the rinds and all, and regular lemons would be too tart and too tough.
Meyer Lemon Pizza with Goat Cheese and Bacon
Makes 8 slices
1 ball pizza dough (see Kitchen Notes)
5 slices bacon
corn meal (optional)
1 Meyer lemon
11 to 12 ounces goat cheese (see Kitchen Notes)
Remove pizza dough from fridge and let it come to room temperature. Meanwhile, fry bacon until crisp and drain on paper towel. Rinse Meyer lemon carefully (you’re going to eat the skin). Slice thinly, removing any seeds, and quarter the slices.
Preheat oven to 500ºF. When the dough has reached room temperature, roll it out on a surface lightly dusted with a mix of flour and corn meal (if you’re using it—I like the crunchy texture corn meal adds to the cooked crust). We like to roll our dough as thin as possible; if it ends up being bigger than your pizza pan, you can trim off the excess and discard. Lightly oil the pizza pan. Carefully fold the crust over your rolling pin, lift it gently and slide the pizza pan under it.
Brush the crust with a little olive oil and bake it on the center rack for about 4 minutes. Remove from oven and crumble goat cheese evenly over the crust, leaving a border around the edge. Tear up the bacon slices and arrange on top of the cheese. Arrange lemon slice pieces on top of pizza. Return pizza to oven and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 10 to 14 minutes.
Remove from oven and snip a generous sprinkling of fresh chives over pizza. Let it rest for a few minutes, then slice and serve.
Keep the dough warm. Warm dough is much more pliable and easier to roll out. If it’s cold at all, it just keeps contracting back into itself. I use store-bought pizza dough—it’s less than three bucks at Whole Foods and quite good. Trader Joe’s also sells pizza dough, which I’ve not tried, as do some pizzerias, if you ask nicely. If you make your own dough, that is excellent, of course.
Keep the cheese cold. Goat cheese is easier to handle and crumble when it’s nice and cold. Don’t remove it from the fridge until you’re ready to put it on the pizza. Logs of goat cheese often come in 11-ounce packages, perfect for making one pizza. Otherwise, buy two 8-ounce packages and consider yourself lucky to have four or five ounces left over to enjoy some other way.