Wednesday, January 29, 2014
ITALIAN SAUSAGE AND PEPPER PIZZA
I’m extra pleased with this one because I invented it myself. I know, putting toppings on a pizza isn’t exactly rocket science, but I’m a habitual recipe follower (hence the title of this blog), and while I think I have pretty good instincts for adapting existing recipes, I rarely come up with anything brand-new. Although putting sausage, peppers, and onions together is hardly original, when I got hungry for a pizza based on this classic combo (34 pizza recipes on file and I still don’t have one that features bell peppers!), Google came up surprisingly short. There were plenty of tomato-sauce pizzas with sausage and peppers, but that seemed too easy; I wanted the main ingredients to shine. I love ricotta in place of regular pizza sauce and thought its mild creaminess would be extra great here.
When a recipe calls for sausage, I usually default to chicken sausage, just to keep things a little lighter. Trader Joe’s has a perfectly serviceable Italian chicken sausage, but since I really wanted to hew closely to the idea of a traditional sausage-and-pepper sandwich, I decided to splurge and use pork sausage. It was a wise decision. It’s notably greasier, but in a way that’s perfect for pizza, which needs a little gooeyness. You can get away with using a fairly small amount because its flavor thoroughly permeates the other ingredients. I wanted big rounds rather than crumbles, so I browned the sausages whole to make them firm enough to slice, then cut them up and sautéed the pieces with the colorful peppers and plenty of aromatic onion and garlic. As for the cheese, there are probably a lot that would be great here, but I went with the standard Parmesan and mozzarella. A garnish of fresh basil adds color, freshness and Italian flair.
This turned out exactly as I’d envisioned it, which is not always the case when I improvise. I’ll definitely make it again and won’t change a thing.
½ pound hot Italian sausage (pork recommended)
1 small to medium red pepper, sliced
1 small to medium yellow pepper, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound pizza dough
About ½ cup ricotta cheese
Shredded Parmesan and mozzarella cheese to taste
Chopped fresh basil to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown the sausages. Remove from the pan, let rest for a few minutes, and slice. (It’s OK if the sausage isn’t cooked all the way through yet.)
3. Return the pan to the heat and add about a tablespoon of olive oil. When it’s warm, add the onions and sauté for a few minutes. Add the peppers, sausage, and garlic and cook until sausage is fully cooked and vegetables are tender.
4. Roll out the pizza dough and place it on an oiled baking sheet. Spread the ricotta over it in an even layer. Scatter the sausage-pepper mixture over that and top with Parmesan and mozzarella.
5. Bake pizza for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is browned.
6. Garnish with fresh basil.
Time: 40 minutes
Leftover potential: Good. Reheat on the stove in a dry skillet over medium heat for best results.