P-I-Z-Z-A!

Does anybody else remember this song??  My first Mary-Kate and Ashley VHS (I feel old) was their sleepover party video, and I STILL can’t make a pizza without singing this song!

While my pizzas don’t get quite as…interesting as theirs did, I still love to experiment with this quick, easy (and sometimes even semi-healthy) dinner.  I make pizza all the time and I don’t think I’ve ever made the exact same one twice.

But I have a confession to make.  I’m lazy!  I’d like to chalk it up to law school fatigue, but a) that’s definitely not the whole story and b) it’s summertime anyway!  I know how to make a homemade pizza crust, I do, and occasionally I’ll make one (aka once a year…maybe…if I’m feeling super ambitious), but most of the time I just can’t be bothered.  Those little bags of dough at the grocery store are just so easy!  Pop ’em in the freezer til you’re ready to roll ’em out and use ’em, what could be easier??  And our Giant sells whole wheat crusts, so I can even pretend I’m being healthy at the same time!  To make your crust a little special, sprinkle on a mix of basil, oregano, and garlic salt before you add any toppings.  It will make you feel like you’ve done SOMEthing “homemade” with the crust, and it will make it taste even better.  Win-win!

So now that we’re past that crust business (whew!), let’s get to the good stuff: the toppings!  I don’t think I’ve ever put tomato sauce on a pizza once.  I love tomato sauce, I really do, but I just haven’t put it on my pizzas (yet)!  And I don’t usually use any meat either (except the rare appearance bacon makes, but we’re going to keep that a secret).  By now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Is this girl nuts?  Or does she just eat plain, store-bought pizza crust and call it pizza?”  I promise it isn’t either– I just bury my pizzas in cheese and veggies!

Nothing in my veggie drawer is sacred when pizza day rolls around.  This week it was roasted red peppers and spinach, last week it was tomatoes, melted onions and brussel sprouts.  Anything goes!  And the same can be said for the cheeses.  Usually I try to make mozzarella  at least a semi-base, but almost any cheese makes your pizza better.  Remember the show Family Matters (those early 90s references just keep comin!)?  My parents call me “Urkel” because I love cheese just as much as that lovable, bespectacled nerd.  So I mean it when I say any cheese goes.  That spinach and roasted peppers pizza I mentioned?  I didn’t have enough mozzarella to cover the whole pizza, so it wound up with bits of mozz, goat cheese, AND shredded parmesan on it.  And BF and I ate every bite.

My favorite “surprise” pizza toppings are fruits.  Sure, everybody knows about pineapple and Hawaiian pizza, but there’s a lot more in the fruit-pizza world to explore!  And since pineapple has been my archnemesis for 22 years and counting, it’s nice to have some other fruits in my back pocket.  Grapes (roasted grapes are god’s gift to humanity) and pears go especially nicely, but cherries and strawberries have their place too!  The first time I made BF a grape pizza he looked at it (and me!) like I’d slipped out of my straight jacket, but as soon as he tried it he became a convert.

If you DO want to put some sort of sauce on your pizza, Pesto is a great place to start (though maybe not if you’re making a fruit pizza).  Or if you’re feeling bad, use the Garlic Cream Sauce found here.  Just be sure to add an extra veggie to your pizza to cancel it out– that’s how that works, right?

SO here are some of my favorite pizza toppings.  Test ’em out and let me know what you think, or post your own favorites– I’m ALWAYS looking for an excuse to try a new pizza!

VEGGIES

Pesto, Tomato, Mozzarella, Arugula, and Balsamic Reduction

Pesto, Tomato, Mozzarella, Arugula, and Balsamic Reduction

Tomatoes and Spinach are a go-to pairing because I ALWAYS have them.  I like to put whole cherry tomatoes under the cheese so that they won’t roll away and when you bite into them they’re a yummy warm burst in your mouth.  It sounds dirty but I don’t care, that’s what it’s like!

Roasted Peppers and Brussel Sprouts pair especially well with goat cheese or feta.  And adding a little crumbled bacon to that Brussel Sprout-Goat Cheese pizza during the last few minutes of baking is an excellent idea, if you are so inclined (and you should be).

Zucchini (cooked on the stove beforehand, just a bit) can be a really nice addition to your pizza, especially in tandem with tomatoes.  Or chopped peppers (roasted or otherwise)!

Asparagus adds a nice crunch to pizza, or you can cook it a bit before if raw asparagus isn’t your thing.

Lettuces (arugula and spring mixes are my personal favorites) are a great topping to add to the pizza when it comes out of the oven.  Don’t use something like iceberg, which is way too watery.  Go for strongly-flavored lettuces like arugula that will add a kick to the pizza.  Don’t bake them ’cause they’ll wilt!  If you use lettuces, a drizzle of reduced balsamic adds another dimension of flavor.

Caramelized Onions make everything better.  Seriously.  Everything.  You could use thinly sliced red onions instead, but why would you when you could have caramelized onions?  Make them, add them, love them.  They go especially well with fruit pizzas.  Which reminds me…

FRUITS

Roasted Grapes, Caramelized Onions,and Spinach with Mozzarella and Goat Cheese

Roasted Grapes, Caramelized Onions, Spinach, Mozzarella, and Goat Cheese

Fruits tend to pair really nicely with goat cheese.  In terms of mixing fruits and veggies, I usually stick to just spinach, onions, and brussel sprouts.  If you want to test out zucchini, tomatoes, or pepper with fruit, go for it  and then tell me how it went!

Grapes (roasted or unroasted, but you should do roasted) are SO good on pizza.  If you roast them, just mix some whole grapes with olive oil, salt, and pepper (and some rosemary if you are so inclined) and put them in the oven at 350 until they’re juicy and smell amazing.

Pears are GREAT on pizza!  Slice ’em realllllly thin and they’ll make a pretty, delicious addition to your pie.

Strawberries were basically made to be paired with balsamic and brussel sprouts.  Put some on your pizza and drizzle them with a balsamic reduction after baking and you’ll be glad you did.

Cherries can be fun for pizza too, especially with a spicy lettuce like arugula or with basil.  Just don’t forget to take out those pits!

NUTS

Nuts are sooooo good on pizza!  Especially Walnuts and Pistachios.  Pair chopped walnuts with either grapes or pears, and chopped pistachios with pears.

CHEESE

Seriously, the only cheese I think I’ve never tried on pizza is cheddar, and somebody could probably find a way to make that work.  BUT until they do, mozzarella, goat cheese, feta, blue cheese, gorgonzola, shredded OR grated parmesan, or mascarpone are all great.  

Combos to Try

Grapes-Onions-Spinach-Blue Cheese-Walnuts

Pear-Onions-Pistachios-Goat Cheese

Brussel Sprouts-Bacon-Goat Cheese-Balsamic

Every veggie you can fit on a single crust

Breakfast Pizza— Seriously, the best thing ever.  Wilted Spinach, Caramelized Onions, Mozzarella, Parmesan, and a couple of Eggs (maybe some Ham or Bacon if you’re feeling meaty) were born to go on pizza crust.

Happy Pizza-ing!!!

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