Pizza is the great unifier.
I mean, you can take a handful of motley, leftover ingredients (say, a little spinach, some cooked bacon, the last bits of a few different kinds of cheese), put them on a pizza, and…presto! A delicious meal with very little effort.
It’s my ultimate I-have-no-idea-what-to-make-for-dinner-tonight meal.
Homemade pizza dough versus store bought
For this pizza, you can go all out and make the dough from scratchâ€”or, if youâ€™re short on time, swing by your local pizza joint and ask them to sell you a ball or two of dough. Most places are happy to oblige.
Or grab a ball of fresh dough at the grocery store on your way home from work. (Pizza dough also freezes really well. You just need to plan ahead a little to thaw it out.)
I’ll often make a batch of dough at the beginning of the week, so I have it on hand when inspiration strikes.
My favorite pizza dough recipes
- Thin-Crust Pizzaâ€”great flavor, chewy texture, needs to be made the night before
- Nice & Easy Pizza Doughâ€”quick dough, aged less, good in a pinch
- Thick Crust Sausage & Cheese Pizzaâ€”thicker, breadier crust
Less is more (the secret to good thin-crust pizza)
Go light on toppings. Use as many as you like, but donâ€™t pile them on by the metric tonne. When you’re tempted to add more: Stop. You can do it. You’ll thank yourself later.
Your restraint will help keep the crust from getting soggy.
Pizza is a good way to use up leftover ingredients
Or stretch a small amount of pricier ingredients to feed a crowd.
For this pizza, you build layers of flavor by quickly sautÃ©ing the shrimp in a little bit of bacon fat and freshly cracked black pepper. The bacon adds a subtle smokiness that pairs really well with the asparagus.
I used 16/25 count shrimp for this recipe, but by all means, use any size you likeâ€”or whatever’s on sale.
Bigger shrimp just make a more dramatic presentation.
The white sauce is a mixture of ricotta and Breakstone’s sour cream, which adds a really nice tang to the pizza.
I used whole milk ricotta, but it would be good with skim, too.
The Black Forest bacon is totally worth hunting down, and not really more expensive than a pound of regular bacon that’s not on sale. (Alright, I’ll readily admit that I’m probably addicted to the stuff.) But by all means, use your favorite bacon.
The fresh chili pepper adds a little heat (if youâ€™re not crazy about hot stuff, just leave it off).Â I also used asparagus, one of my favorite springtime veggiesâ€”not to mention an excellent companion to bacon.
This particular combination of ingredients makes a great springtime pizza.
My second recipe for the Breakstone’s Triple Churned Challenge
So, weâ€™ve been challenged!
Thatâ€™s right! The good folks from Breakstoneâ€™s threw down the gauntlet, and we picked it right up (mice love found things, after all). Hereâ€™s the scoop on The Breakstoneâ€™s Triple Churned Challenge.
Breakstoneâ€™s challenged me and three other gals to create an appetizer, entree, and dessert using their Triple Churned Sour Cream.
This contest is sponsored by Breakstoneâ€™s and the winner will be chosen by reader vote. Readers can vote for their favorite recipes here once a day. The grand prize is $3,000 (how cool is that?)!
And every time you vote, youâ€™ll be entered to win a $300. The more you vote, the greater your chances to win. (Thanks, Breakstoneâ€™s!)
If you missed it, here’s my entry in the appetizer category: Panko & Chili Crusted Oven Fried Chicken Fingers.
The basic technique for this pizza
The short version of this recipe goes like this: Fry the bacon and par-cook the shrimp. Roll the dough out. Slap a little sauce on it. Arrange your ingredients. Bake in a super hot oven for about 12 minutes. Inhale.
Read on for more detailed instructions.
Spicy White Pizza with Bacon, Shrimp & Asparagus
1 ball pizza dough (see note above)
coarse cornmeal for the pizza pan
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta
1/4 cup Breakstone’s sour cream
1/4 lb. bacon, diced
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
6-7 spears asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 chili pepper, seeded, deveined, and sliced into thin strips
shredded mozzarella cheese
freshly cracked black pepper
Makes 1 large pizza
Bring your dough to room temperature
For this recipe, I’m assuming that you either bought a ball of pizza dough somewhereâ€”or made your own. If you’ve refrigerated your dough, take it out and let it come up to room temperature before handling.
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.
Prep your veggies
Nip the bottom quarter-inch or so of the asparagus off and discard. Chop the spears into pieces about a half an inch long. Whack the top off your chili pepper.
Cut it in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and the ribs. Discard them.
Slice the pepper lengthwise into thin strips.
Make the white sauce for the pizza
Put the ricotta and the Breakstone’s sour cream in a small bowl.
Grind on a little fresh black pepper. (I don’t add any salt here because the shredded cheese is usually plenty salty.)
Mix until uniform. Set aside.
Fry the bacon
Dice the bacon up. Put it in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat.
Stir occasionally, cooking until the bacon is crisp.
Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon. Set it aside in a bowl (line it with a paper towel, if you like, to catch any leftover grease).
Pre-cook the shrimp
Discard most of the bacon fat from the frying pan. (Save it in the fridge and use it to fry potatoes!)
Toss the shrimp into the pan. Season with a little freshly cracked black pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
This is important. You just want to get a little color on the shrimp at this pointâ€”but not cook them all the way through.
When they’ve just turned pink on both sides, yank them out of the pan and put them in a bowl. (See how they’re a little blueish and translucent in places? That’s what you want. It means they’re still raw inside.) They’ll finish cooking in the oven.
Roll out the dough
Sprinkle a little coarse cornmeal on a large pizza pan (round or rectangular…up to you!
Set your ball of dough on a lightly floured board.
Stretch it out (or roll it…sacrilege, I know…but also pretty darn effective) so it covers your whole pizza pan.
Assemble the pizza!
Grab your cheese out of the fridge. It’s time to assemble the pizza.
So, by now, your counter should look about like this. Pan covered in dough. Ricotta/sour cream white sauce. Fried bacon and shrimp. Sliced asparagus and chili pepper. Grated Parmesan and shredded mozzarella.
Sprinkle with half the chopped bacon.
Sprinkle with a little shredded mozzarella.
Arrange the shrimp so they’re spread out.
Add some slivers of pepper.
And the asparagus spears.
Sprinkle with the rest of the bacon, a little more mozzarella, and some grated Parmesan. Topping a pizza like this (cheese, toppings, more cheese), helps the toppings stick to the pizza better when you bite into a slice.
Bake the pizza!
Pop the pizza into your preheated 500-degree oven.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbly and the crust is crisp.
Yank the pan out of the oven. Slice immediately and serve.