benetarI once heard an interview with ’80s rock star Pat Benatar in which the interviewer asked how she stayed humble.

“Whenever I start to believe my press,” she said, “I go clean my bathroom.”

For Benatar, a commode and sink were the great equalizers.

For me, it’s making dinner for the family.

Clients can rave about my cooking all day, but my teenage boys make sure I check my ego at the stove.

“We’re eating that?” the big one asked last night. “What is it?”

“It’s pizza!” I said.

“That’s not pizza!” the little one insisted. “It doesn’t have tomato sauce.”


No, my pizza didn’t have tomato sauce. But it had thinly sliced tomatoes. Poached, shredded chicken. A spinach & basil oil thickened with a bit of Parmesan. And plenty of mozzarella and Asiago cheese.

“I can’t eat that,” the big one said.

“It’s not pizza,” the little one added.

“So call it bread!” I told them. “Bread with stuff on it!”

They did.

They ate it.

And they kept their mother humble.

Humble Pizza Pie

  • 1 recipe pizza dough
  • 1/2 pound chicken tenders
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large tomato, thinly sliced, then slices halved
  • 4 ounces grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Oil a large, rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle it with cornmeal. Set aside.

Bring a pan of water to a boil. Season the water with salt and pepper and place the oregano sprig in it.

Carefully place the chicken tenders in the boiling water. Reduce the heat, and poach your chicken gently for 10-15 minutes, or until it’s just done. Remove the chicken tenders from the water and let them cool and drain.

Meanwhile, place the spinach leaves, the basil leaves, the Parmesan and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor. Season with salt and pepper, then pulse until the leaves are chopped. Turn the machine on and pour in enough olive oil to get a smooth (but not drippy) consistency. You’ll probably use 1/3 to 1/2 cup.

Taste the spinach/basil oil for taste and add more lemon juice or salt if needed. If the sauce seems a little too loose, add some more spinach leaves.

Roll the pizza dough into a rectangle and place it on your baking sheet. Spoon all but a couple tablespoons of the spinach/basil oil over the dough.

Shred the chicken with your fingers and place the pieces on top of the pizza. Add the tomato slices, then sprinkle on the cheeses. Dollop the remaining spinach/basil oil over the top.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and the crust is crispy. Serve to all the pizza (and bread!) lovers in your family.

pizza cooked