It baffles me when people call pizza one of their “weaknesses.” For me, pizza is a strength. It’s actually a great way to combine whole grains, proteins, veggies and/or fruits, a healthy dose of fat, and a whole lot of yum into one creative masterpiece. All you
have get to do is skip the delivery and create your own with quality ingredients.
Another reason pizza rocks: versatility. I mean tomato sauce, pesto, Alfredo, BBQ…And that’s before you even get to the meats, produce, cheeses, herbs and spices. If you think you’ve had it all, you’re probably wrong. There are always new ways to mix up the classic.
Take this sweet and smoky BBQ sauce blend: You may contort your face a little at first, like “Does that really go together?” Well, I have a secret for you. Yes it does!
And it’s ridiculously easy. And customizable. And you can use it on anything (grilled/smoked/roasted meats, sandwiches, quesadillas, and more).
1 part of your favorite BBQ sauce + 1 part berry jam
That’s it! I used Stubb’s Original BBQ Sauce and Stonewall Kitchen’s Black Raspberry Jam for this pizza, and look at that beautiful color! Plus the flavor is out of this world. It’s like a summery version of my Cranberry BBQ Pizza (which I can never get enough of!)
For the crust, I’ve been cheating a little lately and buying a packaged crust: The Pizza Gourmet’s Wood-Grilled Wheat. But I have to admit it’s pretty darn good anyway. Plus it’s all-natural, contains no questionable ingredients, and packs a good amount of protein and fiber. If you have a little more time, I highly recommend making your own dough (or finding some at your grocer) and cooking it on a hot pizza stone.
If you’re going this route, here are some tips and tricks for working with dough:
- Preheat your pizza stone in a HOT oven, around 550ºF, for at least an hour. Then reduce the heat to 425º when cooking your pizza.
- Work on cornmeal-dusted parchment paper. Flour works as well, but cornmeal adds an extra level of flavor and texture that flour can’t match.
- Cut the parchment around the dough and let it cook on the stone with the parchment for the first 5ish minutes. If you’re like me and not super skilled with a pizza paddle, sliding uncooked dough onto the stone without destroying the shape can be tricky. But the parchment solves this issue. After cooking for just a couple minutes, the crust slides right off and onto the stone.
- Avoid excess moisture. Slice veggies thin, and be reasonably modest with sauce and cheese. Overloading with toppings can result in a limp, soggy, or overly chewy crust.
- Wait to add the cheese in the last 5 minutes. Don’t you hate it when you want the crust to get crispier but the cheese is already bubbling and beginning to harden? To solve this, put all the sauce and veggies on the prepared dough before sliding it onto the stone (moving quickly to avoid losing heat), but NOT the cheese. After 5 minutes of initial cooking, take the pizza out of the oven, pull the parchment out, and sprinkle with cheese. Immediately return to the oven for another 5 minutes, or until done.
The last two apply for pre-made crusts as well!
Fruity BBQ Bacon Pizza
For 1 12-inch crust, serves about 3
- 1 12-inch thin whole grain pizza crust*
- 1.5 Tbsp BBQ Sauce**
- 1.5 Tbsp berry jam***
- 3 slices turkey bacon
- 3 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup sliced yellow onion
- 1 Tbsp chicken broth or water
- sprinkle dried oregano
- 3/4 cup baby spinach
- 2.5 oz shredded fontina****
Preheat oven to 425º.* Thinly slice mushrooms and onion, and roughly chop spinach. Shred cheese.
Add BBQ sauce and jam to a small bowl and stir to thoroughly combine.
Meanwhile, cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat on each side until crisp. Remove and set aside. Add broth or water to pan and stir to scrape up browned bits, then immediately add mushrooms, onion, and a sprinkle dried oregano. Cook over medium-high heat a couple minutes, until just softened.
Top prepared crust (on a pizza pan or stone) with sauce, torn bacon, spinach, then mushroom/onion mixture (without excess juices). Transfer to oven and bake 5-7 minutes.* Remove and add cheese. Return to oven for another 4-6 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is crisp.
Slice and enjoy!
*See notes above if working with dough!
**I used Stubb’s Original. I would avoid really thick, sweet sauces because the jam adds sweetness.
***I used black raspberry from Stonewall Kitchen.
****Or any Italian cheese, or smoked gouda, or a blend. I recommend buying good-quality blocks and shredding yourself.