The great thing about a pizza crust is it even looks like a blank slate! And that’s just what it is, which is why you should pick up a copy of culinary author Suzanne Lenzer’s new book, Truly Madly Pizza. Whether you’re going for a carnivore’s dream or lightening up with roasted vegetables and herbs, a devout mozzarella sprinkler or on the hunt for something more pungent, there’s a recipe in this book for you.
The thing about pizza is it’s really a blank canvas for anything delicious. Which is why I frequently borrow combinations of ingredients from other dishes I’ve made and just drop them on a crust. This is a mix of flavors and a technique I discovered in a risotto recipe (thank you, Jamie Oliver). The technique for roasting mushrooms infuses them with an intense aromatic flavor while also caramelizing them perfectly — they don’t get soupy — and the rich and earthy texture is the ideal foil to a warm, luscious (and yes, slightly stinky) Taleggio.
For the pizza
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups sliced shiitake mushroom caps
- 4 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 or 5 sprigs fresh thyme, plus a few leaves for garnish
- 1 ball pizza dough, thawed if frozen
- About 3 ounces Taleggio cheese
- cornmeal, for dusting
To make the pizza:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- In a small Dutch oven or other ovenproof pan with a lid, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and garlic and sauté until the mushrooms just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Add the thyme, cover, and transfer to the oven to roast until the mushrooms are cooked through and the garlic is very soft and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove and set aside. Leave the oven on and increase the temperature to 550°F. If you are using a pizza stone, place it in the oven at this time to preheat.
- Meanwhile, shape the pizza crust. Working with the dough in your hands (not flat on a work surface), gently begin to stretch the dough into a circular shape, pressing your fist into the center of the dough and pulling at the edges with your other hand. With both hands, stretch the dough, being careful not to tear it. Working in a circular motion, pull the thicker edges of the dough outward, letting gravity help you. Continue to stretch the dough until it’s relatively even in thickness (the edges will be thicker — that’s okay) and you have the size you want.
- If you are using a pizza stone and a peel, dust the peel generously with cornmeal and lay the crust on the peel to slide it onto the pizza stone. If you are using a large baking sheet, brush the sheet with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle it with the cornmeal before placing the dough on the sheet.
- Brush the crust with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and dot with the Taleggio.
- Remove and discard the thyme stems from the mushroom mixture, leaving behind as many leaves as possible. Scatter the mushroom and garlic mixture over the crust evenly.
- Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the crust is browned and the cheese has melted, 6 to 10 minutes. Garnish with a few more thyme leaves and serve.
Enjoy some more pizza at home with these recipes from Food Republic: