Pizza has enjoyed a lot of attention from food writers over the past month or so. As one article put it, pizza is in many ways the “perfect” food.
Conveying all the main food groups in a single dish, pizza also is the great equalizer: beloved of gourmets and fast-food fans alike. But the most satisfying pizzas, as today’s food section acknowledged, are simple. Just a few ingredients, thoughtfully chosen, come off so much better than a smorgasbord.
This blog has mentioned pizza no fewer than 70 times over the past nine years and posted dozens of recipes. So I’m eager to expand on recent suggestions, having many times mused that there’s hardly a food that doesn’t go on pizza.
That brings me to broccoli, one of the few ingredients that I’ve averred over the years has no place on pizza. But the Chicago Tribune’s pairing of lightly steamed broccoli rabe and sausage could convince me otherwise. My preferred companion to sausage, however, remains thinly sliced eggplant, which soaks up all the sausage grease to tender, savory effect.
Blue cheese and Kalamata olives are among my go-to pizza toppings — just not together, as the Tribune recommended. Each is very salty and needs a sweet counterpart. Sun-dried tomatoes are perfect partners with the olives while fig jam, mentioned in a previous post, is a surprising foil to blue cheese when applied as a sauce.
And lest anyone overlook pesto and cherry tomatoes, the Tribune offered that up too. While both the season’s basil and tomatoes hold out, here are two more variations to consider, courtesy of Tribune News Service.
Although par- or prebaked pizza crusts could be used, prepared dough available in grocers’ cooler and freezer cases, or from local pizzerias, adds just a couple of minutes to the process but yields vastly superior results. My favorite is Bread Stop brand dough, made in Eugene and sold at Medford’s Food 4 Less. The only sticking point is the necessity of a pizza peelfor transferring your pie to the oven.
Heat oven to 450 F.
Spread 1/4 cup pesto (homemade or prepared) thinly over a 9-inch par-baked pizza crust or unbaked dough. Scatter 1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained, evenly over top; sprinkle with 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts. Cover with 1 cup shredded mozzarella.
Bake pizza in preheated oven until crust’s bottom is golden and crisp and cheese has melted, for 7 to 10 minutes. Makes 2 servings.
Cherry Tomato-Walnut Pizza
Heat oven to 450 F.
Brush an unseasoned, prebaked (12-inch) pizza crust or unbaked dough with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Scatter 2 cups baby spinach leaves over crust. Top with 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved, and ¾ cup chopped walnuts. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons herbes de Provence and salt and pepper to taste. Top with 8 ounces shredded mozzarella.
Bake pizza in preheated oven, for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before slicing. Makes 4 servings.