Friday, January 21, 2011


Even though mushrooms and sausage are my favorite traditional pizza toppings, and mushroom-sausage-onion is my go-to order at Pizza Hut (I know, I know: it’s terrible pizza, and believe me, if there were better delivery offerings in our area I would avoid it, but every now and then—very, very rarely nowadays—I crave it; I just can’t help myself), the simple idea of using this combination without the tomato sauce had never occurred to me until I saw this recipe at Eggs on Sunday (it’s based on one from Bon Appetit). Even though it looked delicious, I promptly came down with a case of I-could-have-thought-of-that-itis, the stubborn resistance I sometimes irrationally feel toward making something that seems like such a no-brainer it barely needs to be written down—even though, of course, I didn’t think of myself. It’s a tragic condition with no known treatment except time and common sense.

Eventually, hunger won out and I made this. It was easy to throw together, especially since using my beloved homemade pizza sausage allowed me to skip the sausage-browning step, but I was having an off night in the kitchen: I oversalted the onions and mushrooms, overdid the cheese (I had an 8-ounce ball of mozzarella and my desire not to have a leftover scrap of orphaned cheese in the fridge won out over sensible restraint), and then overbaked the pizza, plus I’d had to use whole wheat dough for the crust because Trader Joe’s was out of white (I like their whole wheat for tomato-sauce pizza, but white is better for these gourmet-type ones), and then it did this weird uneven-baking-sticking-to-the-pan thing that was very frustrating (I really need a new pizza baking sheet, or even better a pizza stone, although I’d like to stick with the rectangular shape and all the ones available on Amazon are too big for my little old oven, sigh). I took some awful photos and sat down to eat, certain I’d created a salty, greasy, burnt, mutilated mess, but even with all these impediments, it still tasted fantastic—a nice blend of spicy/zesty, earthy/woodsy, and creamy/cheesy. A and I both loved it. I can’t wait to find out how great it tastes when I don’t eff it up!

1 pound pizza dough
6–8 ounces Italian sausage (casings removed) or ’Atsa Spicy Pizza Sausage
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
8–16 ounces cremini (or other brown or wild) mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or thyme
1 handful (about ½ cup) grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, grated or torn into pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Stretch out your ball of pizza dough and lay it out on a pizza peel or baking sheet that’s been generously dusted with cornmeal.

2. If using Italian sausage, sauté it in a little olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until browned and no longer pink, breaking it up with the back of a spoon. Remove from the skillet and set aside. If using ’Atsa Spicy Pizza Sausage, skip this step.

3. In the same skillet, pour in a little more olive oil (if needed) and sauté the red onion slices with the red pepper flakes, just until crisp-tender. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

4. In the same skillet, pour in a little more olive oil (if needed) and add the sliced mushrooms and fresh rosemary. Sauté until browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

5. Scatter the Parmesan cheese over the pizza crust. Add the sausage, onions, and mushrooms, then top with the mozzarella cheese.

6. Bake for about 8–10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust is browned.

Serves: 4
Time: 30 minutes
Leftover potential: Good; I recommend reheating in the oven.

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