You only thought you didn't have any pepperoni in the fridge!
They say pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in the United States. I'm sure that the vast majority of that comes on delivery pizzas and your local town or chain pizzerias. When we think of artisan pizza, pepperoni isn't the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, it's the opposite…you'll almost never see pepperoni on any artisan pizzas. Instead you'll see a variety of salted cured pork delicacies on the menu such as seasoned Salumi like Calabrese or Finocchiona as well as sopressatas, prosciuttos or other gourmet cured items.
When you think about your favorite wood fired pizza, or artisan coal fired, or brick oven pizza, it's the dough and the charred bubbles on the crust and then the amazing "new" variety of gourmet toppings that will lay on top of the deliciously warm, soft and crusty dough. When I am ordering at my family's favorite local pizzeria I will almost always choose salami instead of pepperoni. Truth be told here, I do lose that battle with my kids once in a while.
When I do, I'll admit I secretly love my pepperoni pizza! I particularly love when the edges get crispy and fold up giving a little crunch to the salty spicy bite you are enjoying. I also love how the pepperoni juice becomes part of the sauce of the pizza. When I have a pepperoni pizza I always remember why it's the number one topping in America. It's good stuff.
So, what do you do when you have a pepperoni craving and no pepperoni? You improvise! I made some home made pepperoni one time and then had the idea to use those spices and seasonings to make up pepperoni flavored broccoli stalks. *Link to recipe here. Why stop with just broccoli stalks? They were great, but let's give it a whirl with some zucchini I have sitting here. For this pepperoni pizza, I also thought about gourmet-ing it up using "artisan pizza" ingredients. Check it out...
The Zucchini Pepperoni
- 1-2 Zucchinis thinly sliced
- Olive Oil *Approx. 1-2 Tablespoons
- Rice Wine Vinegar *Approx. 1/2 Tablespoon
- Paprika *Approx. 1 1/2 tablespoons
- Garlic Powder *Approx 1/2 Tablespoon
- Ground Red Pepper Flakes *Approx 1/2 Tablespoon
- Ground Mustard Seed *Approx 1/2 Tablespoon
- A little Cayenne Pepper
- Ground Black Pepper
*Note: I have been making this by "eye". These amounts are approximate. Start with less and add more of each as needed per your taste. Mix it all together and taste one. Adjust and taste again until you have it where you like it. I simplified this a little from my broccoli pepperoni where I used a few more ingredients. *LINK
Slice the zucchini. Add the olive oil and spices and mix.
Saute them in a pan, or in the oven for a few minutes to get them on their way. They will finish on the pizza. Set aside.
To keep things interesting and not vegetarian ("Not that there's anything wrong with that!"), I slipped in some Italian and Andouille Sausage I had in the fridge!
A little sautéed Sausage, Mushroom and Red Onion for good measure:
- Olive Oil
- Chopped Garlic
- Sausage broken into bits
- Sliced Mushrooms
- Chopped Red Onions
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Place in the oven, or in a pan and sauté until the sausage is just cooked through. Leave a little room for it to continue to cook on your pizza. The mushrooms and onions will also cook down, but have something left for the bake on the pizza.
This Zucchini Pepperoni Pizza:
- Your favorite Pizza Dough - It better be one of Peter's recipes!
- Olive Oil
- Peter's crushed tomato sauce
- Grated Mozzarella
- A little sliced fresh mozzarella
- Sauteed Pepperoni Zucchini
- Sauteed Sausage, Mushrooms and Onions
- Chopped Italian Parsley to finish
Spread your dough
Cover with the tomato sauce and grated mozz
Layer with a little of the S-M-O mixture and the pepperoni zucchini slices
Tear some of the fresh mozzarella to add a little creaminess to the cheese. *I love the way the hard mozzarella blends with the softer fresh mozzarella giving it two textures and a creamy milkiness you don't get with just grated mozzarella.
Into the oven. In this case, I was using my Primavera WFO. Writing this I can smell the wood and smoke as the pizza began to come to life in there! In a few turns in the oven, about 90 seconds and a lift into the dome this pizza is ready to go.
The savory sausage and mushrooms went nicely with the juicy spicy zucchini pepperoni on this pie. There's also a subtle milkiness that the soft mozzarella brings through the cheese layers giving balance to the toppings and sauce.