Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pizza with Pizazze

One of the things Don and I used to love trying during our early exploits in the kitchen as a young couple was putting together our own different versions of specialty pizzas. One that we turned to a lot was inspired by our favorite pizza place in Bellingham - a wood-fire grilled pizza kitchen called La Fiamma's, and one of the restaurants we miss most out of all the places we have ever lived or eaten. Not only did they have the coolest atmosphere there which included heated seating on their porch, but they also had our favorite pizza ever the "Pizza Diablo." It had a nice smoky flavor, with spicy sauce, sausage, and sliced hot cherry peppers which significantly upped the heat factor and flavor factor as the juices soaked out into the cheese and surrounding crust. Of course we always substituted pepperoni for the sausage because of it's clear superiority.

Besides having the most amazing single pizza dish we have ever tasted -- the Diablo -- La Fiamma's also had the best ranch dressing I have ever tasted, made from scratch and infused with dill so fresh it tasted like it had just been snipped form the garden that morning. The day that we happened to think to combine the two, the cherry pepper-pepperoni-goodness dipped in the buttermilk nectar of the gods, is the day that we knew we had achieved pizza perfection and that no other toppings, cooking method, or complimentary condiments could ever combine in such a way as to exceed the awesomeness of this pizza. Below is our homemade version of this delicious masterpiece. Of course it will never taste as good as it did under the warmth of the heat lamps on a cool winter's night looking out across downtown Bellingham with great friends that we miss dearly. But it will do in a pinch.

Pizza Diablo De Casa Early

1 ready made pizza crust such as Bobili
2/3 cup prepared spicy pizza sauce or spicy pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Sliced pepperoni (to taste)
6 - 8 jarred hot cherry peppers stemmed and sliced with or without seeds for extra heat
Ranch dressing for dipping (optional)

Spread sauce on pizza crust. Topped with cheese, pepperoni, and peppers. Cook according to crust package directions.

Another of our favorite specialty recipes that we created again during our first year together was the Pesto-based pizza. We had fun varying the toppings and trying new combinations but they usually boiled down to something along these lines:

Greek Inspired Pesto Pizza

1 ready made pizza crust such as Bobili
1/2 cup prepared basil pesto sauce
2 cloves of thinly sliced garlic
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Thinly sliced mushrooms
Sliced Kalamata Olives
Sun-dried Tomato Strips

Spread pesto on pizza crust. Top with garlic, cheese, mushrooms, olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Bake according to crust package directions.

Finally, in the more recent years of our marriage, we discovered this new recipe for Barbecue Chicken Pizza to add to our file of exciting specialty pizzas. These days, we are upgrading the fancy factor of our homemade pizzas by starting with a ready-mixed refrigerated pizza dough from Trader Joes which we work and cook ourselves before adding the toppings. This recipe works especially well with the whole wheat crust. Be very liberal with the cilantro. It is surprising how well it compliments the barbecue sauce - a unique flavor combination you won't find elsewhere. I have never seen a grilled pizza that turned out well that wasn't cooked by a professional chef so we skip the grilling instructions and bake it directly in the oven. Katy helped me put this together last night during an exciting game of miniatures, in which I should mention that the girls completely wasted the guys. She also described to me the awesomeness of a pizza stone which I DO NOT have and now desperately want.

So I've showed you mine. Now you show me yours. What do you like to put on your homemade pizza?

Grilled Barbecued-Chicken Pizza


2/3 cup barbecue sauce, divided
1 cup (about 6 ounces) roasted skinned, boned chicken breast (such as Tyson), chopped
2 (10-inch) Quick-and-Easy Pizza Crusts
Cooking spray
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded smoked Gouda cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Combine 1/4 cup barbecue sauce and chicken in a bowl. Toss well; set aside.

Prepare grill. Place 1 crust on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes or until puffy and golden. Turn crust, grill-mark side up; spread with 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce. Top with half of Gouda, chicken mixture, mozzarella, and green onions. Cover; grill 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese melts and crust is lightly browned. Sprinkle with half of cilantro. Repeat with remaining crust and toppings.


6 servings (serving size: 1/3 pizza)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 315(24% from fat); FAT 8.4g (sat 3.3g,mono 3.1g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 17.7g; CHOLESTEROL 33mg; CALCIUM 147mg; SODIUM 686mg; FIBER 0.9g; IRON 2.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 41.1g

Cooking Light, JUNE 1997


Kristy said...

I actually made pizza for lunch today! So, I'm sharing my update on interesting pizza toppings.

For the crust I used the yummy flatbread leftover from the Middle Eastern Chicken Salad recipe. I baked the flat wrap for 7 minutes at 350 and then added the toppings: mixed olive tapenade and mozzarella cheese with a sprinkling of parmesan/romano cheese. Then bake 10-15 more minutes until cheese is melted.

Very tasty....and I loved the crispy thin crust!

Cindy said...

Very cool! I love it. Is the mixed olive tapenade the green olive one from Trader Joes or a black olive tapenade?

Kristy said...

It's mixed olive...has different colors....very tasty. It is from Trader Joes.