I’m not sure how many times I can say this without sounding like a crazy person but, I love pizza!
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This love didn’t actually start with pizza, since I live in north america and have no italian in my family at all. And for quite a long time growing up I was a bit nonplussed by it. Pizza was this bland greasy bread, overloaded with flavourless cheese goop. Sorry Dominos, you just don’t do it for me.
Now don’t get me wrong, I loved bread, and I loved cheese. I just couldn’t see the pleasure in this greasy mess. When I was 18, I was fortunate enough to travel to Italy and was quite poor while doing so (as back packers tend to be). This meant that most of our meals were these 7Euro pizzas. They were entirely different than what I was used to. The bread was thin, crispy and flavourful. The cheese was real mozzarella and didn’t overtake the whole pie, and the meats were salamis, or other thin and crispy dried Italian sausages. Everything that was on the pizzas had a place, and you could taste all of it. So balanced, so lovely.
The Doughy Beginnings
I started my own personal pizza making a few years later, but didn’t have a solid dough recipe yet. So really, what I was making resembled more of a focaccia than a pizza. But they were still delicious. I only put on a few ingredients and drizzles of oil. That’s where the love came from. Don’t be surprised to see many more pizza recipes that all include lovey dovey odes to the dish. It’s an obsession. This recipe for dough is now my staple. If you roll it just a touch thicker for this one, then the dough rises up and hugs all the toppings. Beautiful!
The flavour combinations of this pizza are some of my favourites. Spicy and sweet is a great one of course, so the sausage mixed with the sugary potatoes is beautiful. But then there’s the toasty nutty pesto, and smokey cheese that add extra levels to the palate.
Pesto for Sauce
For the pesto on this one I used roasted fennel mixed with toasted walnuts. If you get a really good quality italian sausage, it will have all kinds of depth to its taste. That depth is complemented by the fennel and rounded out by the walnuts. My recipe for Basic Pesto allows for any kind of substitutions you can think of, and works great here.
Smoked v. Regular Mozzarella
You could use regular mozzarella if you can’t find smoked. For me, the smokiness makes it feel like you cooked the whole thing over an open fire. The sausages are absolutely enhanced by it. So if you can find it I definitely suggest it.
Sausage and Sweet Potato Pizza
- 1 recipe Basic Pizza Dough Linked Below
- 6 Spicy Italian Sausage Best quality you can find
- 300 g Smoked Mozzarella
- 4 medium Sweet Potatoes diced
- 1 tsp each Salt, Pepper and Nutmeg
- 3 Tbsp Maple Syrup
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 4 Tbsp Pesto, (preferably with walnuts and fennel) Recipe for my Anything Pesto, Linked below
- Olive Oil for drizzling
- Cornmeal for the pizza peel
- Prep your pizza dough and have it nearly ready to roll out. You want to have divided it into 4 slightly larger pieces.Prepare your pesto, if you are making your ownHeat oven to 400F
- Combine the diced sweet potato, salt, pepper and nutmeg on a baking sheet. Drizzle on the maple syrup, and mix to combine. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly all over. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring part way through. Potatoes should be soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.
- While the sweet potatoes are roasting, use a sharp knife to slice the skin of the sausage. Discard the skin. Heat a heavy pan over medium heat, and drizzle in a bit of olive oil. Break the sausage meat into small pieces and fry until nice crispy bits form on the outside. Drain on paper towel, set aside.
- Put 4 Tbsps of pesto into a small bowl and add in a bit of extra olive oil, and a touch of warm water. You want it to be a smoother spreading consistency. Set aside.
- When your potatoes and sausage are cooked, and your dough and pesto are ready, it’s time to assemble and bake your pizzas. Heat your oven to 500F, and if you have a pizza stone*, put it in the oven to heat up. If you don’t have a stone, put a baking tray into the oven.
- Sprinkle a pizza peel** with cornmeal quite liberally. (If you don’t have a peel and are using a baking tray, assemble your pizza on parchment paper, and transfer the pizza into the oven directly on that to bake it.)
- Roll out your first dough ball to about 10″ across. It might seem a bit thicker than usual, but that okay. The dough will rise up and hug the toppings, which is great.
- Place the rolled dough onto your pizza peel. Spread evenly with 1/4 of the pesto sauce. (I spread mine all the way to the edges) Evenly top with 1/4 of the sweet potatoes, and 1/4 of the sausage bits. Tear up 1/4 of the mozzarella and scatter across the top.
- Gently but quickly, slide the pizza off the peel onto your very hot stone. Bake for about 6-7minutes each, until the crust is golden and the cheese is gooey. Repeat with the next 3 pizzas.
- Right when the pizzas come out of the oven it’s nice to give them one final drizzle with olive oil, and if you have some on hand, sprinkle with a little fresh chopped parsley. Enjoy!