grated cheese

Deep Dive: Pizza – Josh’s Take

Rather than discussing the unfathomably disgusting mass that is known as “the black olive” or extolling the heavily underrated virtues of mushrooms, I thought I’d take my pizza-related deep dive in a decidedly unexpected direction. That’s right, we’re throwing all convention out the window (or, we would, if I weren’t perpetually afraid to even open mine) and talk about non-traditional pies!

My roommate, Erica, has been occupying herself during quarantine by experimenting with creating her own sourdough starter, which some of you may remember from the great “Sourdough-pocalypse of May.”

This has led to her trying her hand at several creations, some delectable (sourdough cinnamon rolls are amaze-balls) and some better left forgotten (we do not mention the sourdough briquettes… er… I mean, “biscuits”). More than anything, though, she has taken to making copious amounts of pizza dough. And, since man can only eat so many slices of pepperoni and cheese, we have started to get adventurous with some truly “pizzare” (see what I did there) concoctions. Here are some of my favorites from the multitudes we have had over the past few months:

Sliced Potato and Meatball Pizza with a Monterey Blend on Garlic Aioli

This delightful combination came about when I was assisting her by shredding a block of Monterey Jack for that night’s experiments. She had whipped up lovely aioli to use as a base, and I was munching on a raw potato (don’t judge) while she decided what toppings to use. In between bites, I suggested we slice up the meatballs from earlier in the week so that we could use them before they went bad, but she was also getting ideas from the half eaten potato in my hand. Thus was born this gift to mankind. Everything about this was a win, and it has become a “go to” whenever we have the ingredients.

Broccoli Florets and Blue Cheese on a Honey Vinaigrette

This is a much simpler combination, and it’s a great veggie-only option. The texture of the sliced florets adds some great mouthfeel to the dish, but the muted flavor helps to avoid overpowering the delicate balance of the tangy blue cheese and the sweetness of the honey in the sauce. Sometimes simple really is the best way to go.

Bell Peppers, Onions, and Chicken with Boursin Cheese on a Vinaigrette

This was definitely one of the risker combinations we have tried. While the overall topping choices were pretty safe, I had never even heard of Boursin cheese before Erica had snuck it into a CostCo delivery order. It turns out the stuff is pretty damn delicious, even if it does venture closer into brie-esque soft cheese territory than I thought I’d be comfortable with. What’s more, the sharpness of the vinaigrette really adds a much needed punch to the base flavors of the toppings. Add in the hefty crunch of the orange bell peppers we used and the slight caramelization of the onions, and you have one amazing pie that just cannot be beat! And if you are feeling either extra adventurous or nostalgic for some classic mozzarella, this pie is great with a stuffed crust, too (just make sure you really seal the cheese in the crust, or it will leak everywhere).

Et voila! Those are some of my favorites from our recent rounds of pizza experimentation, and they have given me even more of a craving for non-traditional combinations. Do you have any non-traditional pie suggestions? Leave them in the comments, and you just might inspire our next pizza night!

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