Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza

Caramalized Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza

I haven’t posted a recipe here in a LONG time. While I’ve made a few “fancy” dishes, most of our meals are on the simple side. It’s more about getting (mostly) healthy food on the table in a timely manner at this stage in our lives. Especially with Big Man’s non-traditional work schedule, there are weeks when dinner is grilled cheese or PB&J sandwiches almost every night.

But sometimes I get a little creative and do something out of the ordinary, like I did with this pizza. We have homemade pizza at least once a week, and usually the toppings are a mix of cheese, veggies, and meat, based on what I have in the house. But Big Man and I had picked up a smoked goat cheese in the local natural market and I decided to build a pizza around that.

I find any kind of smoked cheese to be quite strong  for my taste, and goat cheese has that natural tangy flavor as well. So I figured caramelized onions would balance out the tartness and a garlic and olive oil base would work better than the usual marinara. I used a good dose of shredded mozzerella as well and ended up with a really yummy pizza! It was definitely different from our usual pizza night (although I made a mini cheese and marinara pizza for the Little Ones) but I didn’t have to spend a lot of extra time in the kitchen or buy ton of unique ingredients. Big Man and I enjoyed sharing more “sophisticated” fare even though we weren’t at a restaurant.

If you’re looking for a different spin on pizza night, I hope you’ll try this. Add a glass of wine and it gives a weekday dinner a nice break from the usual.

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza (original recipe)

Yield: 1 12-inch pizza

  • 1 dough ball (1/2 of my favorite recipe, or your favorite pizza dough recipe)
  • 1 medium onion (I used a red one), thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (more or less to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp. smoked goat cheese

1) Half an hour before you want to cook the pizza, preheat your oven to 500 degrees F, with a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven.

2) Caramelize the onions. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and when it starts to foam, add the sliced onions. Stir once to coat the onions and then leave them alone for 5 minutes. Then, stir in the salt, sugar, and thyme. Reduce the heat to low and cover the skillet, leaving the lid ajar to let steam escape. Continue cooking on low heat for 30 minutes, or until the onions caramlize. Be sure to stir occasionally to all the onions cook evenly. Note: You can make the caramelized onions up to 2 days in advance and keep them in the fridge.

3) Roll out the pizza dough into a thin circle, about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer to your pizza peel and brush the whole surface with olive oil. Add the minced garlic evenly over the oil, then add the caramelized onions (when I made this, I put the onions on last but they got overly dark in the oven, so in the future I will cover the onions with the cheese). Sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese, then use your fingers to break the goat cheese into very small pieces and distribute evenly over the pizza.

4) Transfer to your preheated pizza stone and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling. Let sit for a few minutes before slicing.

5) Enjoy!

(Life-Changing) Homemade Pizza Crust

I’ll tell you right now: this will change your life. Not in a “Call-now-and-for-just-$19.95-plus-S&H-this-kitchen-gadget-will-turn-you-into-a-gourmet-chef-overnight” kind of way. Not in a “Boy-meets-girl-they-fall-in-love-get-married-and-have-babies” kind of way. Not even in a “That-was-the-best-book-I’ve-ever-read” kind of way. But definitely in a “I-can’t-believe-I-made-something-that-tastes-this-good-in-my-own-kitchen” kind of way. This homemade pizza crust is amazing. By far the best recipe I’ve ever tried, and much tastier than delivery. Trust me, once you make this you’ll be looking forward to pizza night all week!

I’ve tried several different homemade pizza methods. French Bread Pizza. Homemade dough using that Instant Pizza Crust Yeast. Pan Pizza. Grilled Pizza. This one is far and away the best. The crust is nice and crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and not too dry or greasy. It bakes up perfectly every time, and tastes great. The recipe makes enough for 2 12-inch pizzas, and I freeze half the dough so I usually have everything for homemade pizza on hand.

There are a few important tips to ensure your homemade pizza rivals that of the local gourmet pizza joint. First, a pizza stone is essential. I know, I know, a pizza stone is pretty much a single-use tool, but trust me, this is one tool that really is essential for good homemade pizza. Pizza stones are pretty inexpensive and easy to find in most home-goods stores. Second, parchment paper is the greatest thing ever for transferring your creation from counter to oven. You don’t have to mess around with corn meal, and the paper also prevents any cheese-spillover from sticking to your pizza stone. Finally, adequate pre-heating time (with the stone in the oven) is very important.

Homemade Pizza Crust (adapted from Annie’s Eats, original source Baking Illustrated)

  • 1-3/4 cups lukewarm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups AP flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • Scant 1 Tablespoon vital wheat gluten

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the water, yeast, oil, and salt. Stir to combine, then add both flours and the vital wheat gluten. Mix with the dough hook until a cohesive dough forms. Knead (in the mixer) until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Dough will be somewhat sticky. Form the dough into a ball and place into a large bowl that has been oiled or sprayed with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1.25 to 2 hours.

Punch down dough to deflate and divide into two equal pieces. At this point you can either freeze the dough, or bake it. To freeze, wrap dough in plastic wrap, and seal in a freezer bag. To use frozen dough, let it thaw in your refrigerator for 24 hours, or on the counter for 2-3 hours, then proceed to the next step.

To bake the pizza, place the pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F for at least 30 minutes. Form the pizza dough (fresh or thawed) into a smooth ball, cover with plastic wrap or a clean damp cloth, and let rest for 10 – 30 minutes. Don’t let the dough sit longer than 30 minutes.

On a floured surface, gently roll or stretch the dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a pizza peel or large baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Add sauce and toppings, and immediately transfer (parchment paper and dough) to the pizza stone. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, about 8-12 minutes. Remove pizza from oven and let rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing and eating.

Project Pastry Queen: Caesar Salad Pizzas

This week’s Project Pastry Queen recipe was chosen by Alice over at This Home Plate (click on over to her site for the full recipe). The recipe was for Caesar Salad Pizzas, and I have to say that I was skeptical of this recipe from the start.  I’ve never been a fan of “salad pizzas.” To me it seems like a lose-lose compromise; the crust gets soggy from the salad dressing and the salad gets wilted from the hot crust. But, part of the reason I joined the PPQ challenge was to get myself to try recipes I normally wouldn’t. So. . .

I made these pizzas as lunch for Big Man and myself, and since it was just the two of us I cut the recipe in half. I also left out the semolina flour and red pepper in the crust since I didn’t have either. I didn’t put the anchovy in the dressing because Big Man doesn’t like fish in any form, and I’m not crazy about anchovies. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by the results.  The Parmesan crust was excellent, and I’ll definitely be using the crust recipe for homemade pizza in the near future. The Caesar dressing was also very good, and extremely easy to make. I didn’t even use a food processor, just a bowl and a whisk and it came together perfectly.

As for the final product, Big Man and I agreed that the pizzas were a good light meal. But neither of us was enthralled with the “salad pizza” concept, so I think in the future I will serve the salad with the Parmesan crust on the side, maybe in bread stick form. Overall, the recipe was a success since I now have a great pizza crust recipe as well as a recipe for homemade Caesar dressing. Win!

20110926-150851.jpg