TASTE BUDS

Pizza ideas that are outside of the box

Posted March 23, 2011, at 12:35 a.m.

Almost anything goes in the Department of Different Pizzas. Just close your eyes and envision a combination of foods and flavors you really like, then imagine them spread on top of pizza dough, topped with or based on a melty cheese and baked.

A couple weeks ago I asked for your ideas for unique pizza toppings. Mark Coleman in Bucks Harbor sent along one he calls Sea Port pizza, with shellfish on it. Sandy Gallo Lee of South Twin Lake sent a recipe for a Tuscan vegetarian pizza and another for a pesto and eggplant pizza.

She also mentioned a BLT pizza, which prompted my idea that you can develop any kind of pizza you like by assembling your favorite combinations and remaining flexible about how you assemble and bake it.

Here is how the BLT one works: Sandy tops her pizza dough with a combination of cheddar and mozzarella, over which she places slices of paste tomatoes. She bakes this and then when she takes it out of the oven, she sprinkles the top with crumbled bacon and shredded lettuce dressed with mayonnaise, then serves it.

So how about a Rueben pizza? Spread the dough with a thin layer of Swiss cheese, then shaved corned beef, then a sprinkle of sauerkraut and top that with more Swiss cheese, and bake it until the cheese is all melted and the dough is cooked? Well, I didn’t try this, but it was an idea that floated through my mind. I just can’t imagine a peanut butter and jelly pizza, but maybe you can think of how to do it.

I will do a “Pizza a Month” for a little while in order to share Sandy’s and Mark’s other recipes. Meanwhile, to start, here is Sandy’s Tuscan vegetarian number.

Sandy uses a four-cheese Italian blend already shredded. You can use all mozzarella if you wish. She also uses a premixed pizza herb blend. If you have an Italian herb blend, you could use that. Otherwise, oregano, garlic, thyme and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes also will do the trick.

Tuscan Vegetarian Pizza

Pizza dough sufficient for a 16-inch pizza

4 paste tomatoes, sliced in about ¼-inch slices

2 cups fresh baby spinach

¾ cup sliced fresh mushrooms

2-3 tablespoons of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

1 cup mozzarella or Italian blend shredded cheese

1 teaspoon pizza seasoning dried herb blend

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Top a 16-inch crust with tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, Italian cheese blend, pizza seasoning and black pepper. Dribble with olive oil. Bake about 15 minutes or until the cheese bubbles.

Looking for … soft molasses cookies. I have a hankering for a pillowy, chewy molasses cookie. One of you must have one and I hope you’ll share. Send to Sandy Oliver, 1061 Main Road, Islesboro 04848, or sandyoliver47@gmail.com.

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