My refrigerator is brimming with fresh vegetables these days, as you may have heard. I thought a good way to use up some of the bounty would be to make pizza with it. Vegetables are no stranger to pizza. In fact, they are fast friends. Peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and onions are quite common toppings for our beloved pies. I had a few others to add to the mix as well and I was confident that they'd play nicely.
Did the kids eat the pizza with all those vegetables on it? Uh...no. That's why this post is entitled "A tale of 2 pizzas." The kids had pepperoni. However, I will admit that it was a bit of a cop out. I should have put something that I know they like and would have given a chance. Next time, I think I'm going to try sausage and broccoli. Why broccoli? The kids actually like it. Sausage and broccoli rabe is a great combo, so why not regular broccoli?
I have this rule about pizza toppings. There are exceptions, of course, but I think that if you have more than three toppings, it's too many. Especially, if those toppings are vegetables with a high water content. You end up with soggy crust or so much going on that nothing particularly shines. So why does my pizza have all that stuff on it? Well, I need to use up a lot of that stuff! So I came up with a plan to maximize the flavor and texture of this pizza, even though it was going to be weighed down by all that stuff.
I should also mention that my crust and sauce were store-bought. Generally, I'm not a fan of using a lot of store-bought, pre-made convenience foods but at the same time, I'm not Martha Stewart, ya know? So I found a great pizza sauce that had simple ingredients and no corn syrup. Also, I'm not a fan of making dough, so I almost always buy pizza dough.
The way I see it, there are a couple of problems to making a pizza with a ton of toppings like this. First, the smear of sauce and sprinkling of mozzarella is just not enough seasoning to carry over to all those vegetables. The second problem is that a lot of those toppings won't be cooked enough in the time it takes for the crust to cook.
To combat these problems, I sliced everything thinly and tossed them in a bowl with a good glug of olive oil to coat everything. Then they also received a nice sprinkling of salt and pepper. I threw in some parmesan cheese as well a little bit of the mozzarella, along with the pepperoni. Then I gave all of the toppings a good mix. Then I spread this, oiled, seasoned, and thoroughly combined topping mixture on top of my crust that was already covered with sauce and cheese. I thought pre-seasoning the vegetables would allow them to have great flavor without diluting the flavor of the sauce and cheese. The coating of oil would help the transfer of heat and allow the vegetables to cook through and get some color.
The pizza was cooked in a two-step process. First, in a 400 degree oven until the crust was just beginning to turn golden and the vegetables were wilting. Then I turned the broiler on high and kept the pizza on the middle rack. This got the top of the pizza a bit caramelized and cooked off some of the moisture.
I know that it's just pizza and it shouldn't be this complicated. You should be able to throw sauce, cheese, and stuff on a crust and throw it in the oven and have a great pizza, right? Yes. But sometimes you have to apply some different techniques when presented with a bit of a challenge. Was it worth the effort? Yes!
I don't really have a recipe. But I will tell you the toppings that I used. Make sure that everything is sliced very thinly. My toppings were: red bell pepper, onions, tomatoes, young garlic, zucchini, pepperoni, parmesan cheese, sliced green olives.