Grilled Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onion, Roasted Red Pepper & Italian Sausage Pizza

“When I walk into my kitchen, I am not alone.  Whether we know it or not, none of us is.  We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten.  Food is never just food.  It’s also a way of getting at something else:  who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be.” 

-Molly Wizenberg from a Homemade Life.

It has been several months since my good friend, Bonnie, shared this quote with me.  Since then, I have read it several times…over and over.  I have often wondered, do I love to cook…just because I love to eat?  Do I love to eat…just because I am really hungry?!  OR….do I love to cook…and love to eat…because of all that cooking & eating means…signifys…conjures.  I believe the latter.   For me…cooking (and eating) is like magic.  I walk into the kitchen and suddenly (like the quote says above) I am not alone there.  Being in the kitchen reminds me of every family gathering I’ve ever been to…which inevitably is in someone’s kitchen.  It reminds me of every time I’ve served a group of friends.  Being in the kitchen takes me back to the days I watched my dad make me “egg-on-toast” when I was sick or the evenings I talked to my mom about “what happened at school” while she whipped up chicken and potatoes and corn.  Spending time in the kitchen cooking brings a sense of relaxation after a long day…time to turn off my “Medtronic” brain and mindlessly indulge in the flavors and memories that accompany the food we prepare.  Creating a meal in the kitchen evokes a sense of nurturing and providing for family & friends.  There are few things I enjoy more than preparing a meal while my family or friends surround me in the kitchen…laughing, sharing, being.  And there are even fewer things I enjoy more than an afternoon “alone” in the kitchen…alone with my thoughts…alone with all my family/friends who joined me in the past…preparing a meal to be served to the guests arriving later.  So yes.  I agree.  I love to cook…to spend time in my kitchen because it reminds me of who I am…who I have been…and who I continue to become.  Thank you for sharing, Bonnie.

One of our latest creations in the kitchen is a spin on a pizza we shared with Cory & Kelly in Madison several weeks back.  With my recent food aversion to “pepperoni” our classic homemade supreme pizza has fallen by the wayside and new toppings have become a mainstay.  With flavors similar to the Bomoblotti Al Forno that I posted last week, this pizza is a must-try!  We love it…and I hope you will too.

GRILLED GOAT CHEESE, CARAMELIZED ONION,

ROASTED RED PEPPER, & ITALIAN SAUSAGE PIZZA

Serves 2-3

  • 1 Red Pepper, Quartered, Seeds-Removed, Roasted and Skinned
  • 1/2 Medium Yellow Onion, Caramelized
  • 1/3 lb Hot Italian Sausage, Browned
  • 3-4 oz Goat Cheese
  • Pizza Crust Mix (HyVee or Jiffy preferred)
  • HyVee Canned Pizza Sauce (seriously…this generic brand is delish!)
  • Garlic Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Presti’s Spicy Italian Seasoning
  • 2 tbsp EVOO, divided
  • 6-8 oz Low Moisture Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 3-4 Leaves of Fresh Basil, shredded

Prepping the ingredients:

To roast the red pepper, preheat your grill to ~350 degrees.  Slice the red pepper into quarters and brush the outer skin with EVOO.   Rest the red pepper, skin-side down, on the grill until the skin is blackened.  Remove from the grill and gently discard the outer skin of the pepper.  Thinly slice the red pepper and set aside.

  

While the red peppers are roasting on the grill, thinly slice half of 1 yellow onion.  Drizzle EVOO into a small saute pan.  Add 1 tbsp butter and the thinly sliced onion.  Saute over low heat until the onions are “caramel” colored.  Leave on low heat until ready to top the pizza.

Finally, the sausage.  Divide 1/3 lb of hot italian sausage into quarter-sized balls.  Place the sausage in a wide-based pan and brown on each side (~5 min).  Remove from heat, wrap in tin-foil and set aside.

  

Once the toppings are prepped, you can begin making the pizza crust.  Follow the instructions on the back of the package AND ADD a dash or two of Presti’s Spicy Italian seasoning, garlic salt,  and garlic powder prior to adding the water.  Be careful not to add too much water.

Thoroughly flour your rolling-pin and pizza stone.  Roll dough to shape and thickness of your liking.  We make our pizza rectangular to fit half of the gas grill so that it may be cooked by indirect heat (see below).  Brush both sides of the dough/crust with olive oil and carry on stone out to the grill. 

Warm the grill to ~400 degrees.  Turn one half of the grill OFF to cook crust and pizza via indirect heat.  Place crust on the grill (burner side OFF) and cook until crust has formed and “grill marks” have been established.  Flip and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.   Once crust is lightly golden brown, remove pizza from grill and carry in on pizza stone. 

Pour half a can of HyVee (or brand of your choosing) pizza sauce into a small ziploc container and save for another use.  Pour the remaining sauce onto crust and spread with the back of spoon until evenly distributed.

Next up…the toppings!  We start by layering a good portion of caramelized onions on top of the sauce, followed by a layer of thinly sliced roasted red peppers, italian sausage, and dime-sized drops of goat cheese.  Finish with shredded Mozzarella cheese. 

Place pizza back on the grill (indirect heat once again) and heat at 400 degrees until the mozzarella cheese is melted.

Remove from grill and serve immediately.  This pizza has a tendency to cool down quick! 

Sprinkle with fresh basil and enjoy bite after bite after bite!

(Goat Cheese Disclaimer)…To all of my friends who happily join me in the “pregnant boat”, I have good news to share.  Many of you have raised concern about my consumption of “soft” cheeses and the risks these indulgences pose during pregnancy.  Well don’t you fret…I have done my homework (I did from the moment I knew I was pregnant…because this girl LIVES on cheese).  While it is true that the FDA and USDA recommend that pregnant women avoid unpasteurized soft cheeses, I have found that most women are not aware that the majority of cheese made in the Unites States (yes, soft cheese included) ARE in fact, made with pasteurized milk.  So read your cheese labels…worry less…and indulge in cheese!  I have found VERY few cheeses to be made with unpasteurized milk.  God Bless the USA!   For more information, read on.  http://www.babycenter.com/404_is-it-safe-to-eat-soft-cheese-during-pregnancy_3175.bc

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

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