For as much as I desire to travel elsewhere, this city of mine provides tons of inspiration. If you keep your mind open to it, there are sights, sounds, textures, smells that can throw your imagination into motion. It’s so very easy to fall into a slump in this city though, and let things pass you by with no notice. [Often, these are the times it’s apparent my body and mind need to travel.] But, if you keep yourself open, the brain stays moving.
One of the most astounding things to me is how my brain can hold onto an idea for months before spitting itself back out to a tangible result. Tonight is one very solid example. A few months ago, the height of summer, my friend Melissa and I made our way to Motorino. This was my first experience with Neapolitan pizza, and while it was a delightful meal, it seemed to fall into the “slightly overrated, slightly overhyped” column. One of the pizzas enjoyed that evening was covered in slightly charred shredded brussels sprouts and bits of pancetta. The downfall of it was the thick layer of cheese that obscured most everything else. I adore cheese, in almost any form, but this was more lactose than any one thin piece of dough should have to handle.
So what’s a food obsessed person to do? Well, if you’re me, this pizza will come back to you in the middle of a work day. A few days ago, I picked up some whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe’s. Biana made a pretty killer pizza a few weeks ago, so I figured it was my turn. Come middle of the day today, that Motorino pizza popped into my head. With a bit of marinated mozzarella in the fridge, along with some of my favorite bacon (also purchased during my TJ’s trip) and the knowledge that brussels sprouts were officially in season, dinner was coming together nicely. A quick run to the Union Square farmer’s market after work cemented it.
Homemade pizza is possibly one of the easiest dinners to pull together. While I very much desire to make homemade dough (preferably this highly acclaimed no-knead recipe), using a store or pizzeria bought dough is a very quick fix. Let the dough rest at room temperature while cleaning out your fridge. That last sausage from pasta the other night? Cut it up. Those numerous bits of cheese? Grate them up. Vegetables you don’t otherwise know what to do? Roast them up. And you never know. That dinner out that inspired you? Your creation might be better than the real thing.
Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Pizza
- 1 ball whole wheat or white flour pizza dough
- 1 small branch of brussels sprouts
- 5 slices bacon
- 2 onions
- 4-6 oz marinated mozzarella
- 2-4 oz feta
Let your dough come to room temperature.
Thinly slice onions and place them in a heated medium skillet with olive oil. Cook on medium until softened. Turn to low, add a splash of balsamic vinegar and let the onions caramelize. Stir every few minutes.
Place in preheated 450º oven [or fry on stovetop if desired] for 10-15 minutes. Once the bacon is done, turn the oven up to 500º and place two large pans in oven.
For the brussels sprouts, either slice them up with a sharp knife or use your food processor. Using the slicing blade, process all brussels sprouts. Soak in water to remove dirt and drain well.
Grate or dice your cheeses.
Once all items are prepped, it’s time to work on the dough. Flour a clean countertop well (1-2 handfuls of flour spread about). Divide your ball of dough into halves and divide each half in half, creating four pieces of dough. They may not be perfectly equal in size, but close is fine. Flour your hands and place one ball of dough onto the countertop. Press the ball down and sprinkle with a bit more flour. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out. This works best if you begin at the center of the dough and roll outward. Turn the dough and roll outward in that direction. [If you want specifics, basically you’re rotating it about 30-40º each time.] Continue rolling and flouring if you feel any sticking. Personally, I was more concerned with a thin dough and not a perfect circle while making mine.
Two of the rolled out pieces of dough fit onto one large oiled, preheated cookie sheet. If desired, brush the dough with olive oil [I used the oil from the marinated mozzarella I used on the pizza]. Sprinkle with the diced cheeses and caramelized onions. Crumble the bacon [about 1.25 pieces went on each pizza] and top with brussels sprouts.
Bake at 500 for about 7 minutes. Let cool on a rack for a few minutes, until the bubbling cheese calms down. Top with parmesan cheese. And if you’re feeling fancy and have a random container of truffle salt, feel free to add a bit on before eating.