Pizza toppings are the personality of your homemade pizza. While the dough, sauce, and cheese are standard ingredients, what you add from there is all about you—your tastes, preferences, and available groceries. Follow these few tips to find the combination that is just right for you:
- Keep it Organized
This may go without saying, but always start with the cheese and end with the protein (if you are using any). This way, the cheese acts like a sort of “glue” that keeps everything on the pizza top and the protein/meat is in direct contact with the oven heat, to reassure that it cooks thoroughly (as it takes more time than the veggies do to cook, typically). The meal looks more aesthetically pleasing, too, because you can see the colors of all the ingredients sitting on top. Yum! If you want, add just a sprinkle of cheese over everything 10-ish minutes before the pizza is done for added texture.
- Keep it Mixed
While the traditional tomatoes-based sauce will do, why not try incorporating a helping of cream cheese for a creamy treat? You can also try incorporating pesto into your sauce recipe—or alfredo. Get creative! All you need for your sauce is a few key ingredients in a blender. Make sure to grab some trustworthy, high-quality canned tomatoes, too, as those will really stand out in any recipe.
- Keep it Fresh
Whether it’s the cheese, veggies, or meat, the fresher the better. For example, grate your own mozzarella cheese instead of using the pre-shredded kind. I know it can be tempting to save time and energy, but the pre-shredded cheese is processed in a way that makes it melt less evenly. This loses you that gooey, string goodness of pizza fresh out of the oven. If you know that you’re going to be making pizza in a rush, pre-cut the veggies and pre-shred the cheese an place them in the fridge under plastic wrap to keep them fresh until you need them.
- Keep it Simple
While this is a highly debatable topic, the number of toppings you add to your pizza works best if you keep it around three (not including sauce or cheese). It may be fun to supersize your pizza but more ingredients decrease the likelihood of evenly baking the whole pie. For a perfect, even baking job every time, cap the toppings off a three: two veggies and a protein, or two protein items and one veggie. If you’re looking for some added zest but don’t want to increase your ingredient count, try sprinkling on some fresh herbs 5-10 minutes before the pizza is done. That’s added taste without the added weight!
- Keep it Creative
The best part of pizza is how creative you can get with topping combinations. Not only can you use leftovers (diched chicken strips from a BBQ or leftover burgers, crumbled) but you can really get away with pitting anything on your pizza. No need to stick to a recipe or even to the “classics.” Why not try black beans, pine nuts, or kale on your pizza? There are even dessert pizza recipes that incorporate apples and cinnamon.
- Keep it Crispy
Isn’t soggy pizza the worst? Avoid this issue by draining any moisture-heavy ingredient before tossing it on your pizza—olives, canned pineapple, fresh tomatoes. Then, lay them on a paper towel on a plate and put another paper towel over top. Press down gently until most of the moisture drains out. Or, set another plate on top of the second paper towel and leave it sitting their while you prepare the rest of the pizza. The more moisture you can banish beforehand, the less likely it is that your pizza crust will get soggy.
Pizza is a lot of fun because it never has to be the same twice. Using leftovers, different sauce recipes, unique topping combinations, and different blends of cheese makes meal time easy, diverse, and interesting. Follow these tips courtesy of Chef James Burns of Pazzo Pazzo Italian Cuisine, to make the best of your pizza-making experience. And remember to have fun!
Pazzo Pazzo Italian Cuisine is Edmonton’s authentic Italian restaurant serving up hot and fresh Italian dishes that will satisfy every taste bud. We are open for lunch and dinner. Book your reservations online or by phone. We look forward to serving you!