“What the heck is that?”
“Who puts broccoli on pizza?”
“Congratulations Smitten Kitchen, you’ve ruined pizza!”
To be fair, what my husband and I wanted was broccoli rabe because broccoli rabe is exceptional on pizza, with or without crumbled sausage and a unholy amount of red pepper flakes, but one by one, our offspring have turned against the bitter stalky, leafy florets and now that they make up 50% of the opinions in our family, and the loudest ones too, we ceded to their demands. This one time.*
Also in the name of fairness, my childhood experiences of “white” pizzas, those without tomato sauce,” were terrible so I understand the resistance: dry and flat in flavor. But as an adult I love them especially with vegetables I think taste better when not competing against the acidity of tomato sauce. It helps to take a few a few pages from Jim Lahey here, as I always do when making pizza (and if you haven’t bought his pizza tome yet, you really really should for endless weeknight pizza inspiration) — adding a layer of a quick, easy bechamel sauce under the cheese (I added garlic to it, garlic bechamel > non-garlic bechamel, almost always), using a mix of mozzarella and provolone and then taking a few tips from my beloved broccoli rubble and adding a little lemon juice, zest, pecorino and chile flakes to keep it from flatness.
The result is an ideal weeknight excuse for pizza for dinner, very green, not too heavy but not abstemious either, and if you’re lucky, with the best leftovers there could be. I resisted — for once — finishing it with an egg on top or baking in onto the pizza but I will not next time and you shouldn’t either.
* “One time” = Basically every day from 6:30 a.m. until the last call for water at 8:15 p.m. It’s a good thing they’re cute.
One year ago: Miso Black Sesame Caramel Corn and Hot and Sour Soup
Two years ago: Chocolate Oat Crumble
Three years ago: Garlicky Party Bread with Herbs and Cheese and Fennel and Blood Orange Salad
Four years ago: Egg Salad with Pickled Celery and Coarse Dijon and Salted Caramel Brownies
Five years ago: Lasagna Bolognese
Six years ago: Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake
Seven years ago: Best Cocoa Brownies and Chana Masala
Eight years ago: Flaky Blood Orange Tart and Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad
Nine years ago: Matzo Ball Soup
Ten! years ago: Asapargus Shiitake and Artichoke Risotto and Miniature Soft Pretzels
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Peach Melba Popsicles
1.5 Years Ago: Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles with Cucumber
2.5 Years Ago: Bourbon Slush Punch and three Ingredient Summertime Salsa
3.5 Years Ago: Burst Tomato Galette with Corn and Zucchini
4.5 Years Ago: Pink Lemonade Bars
A bunch of notes and tips: I’ve been using less pizza dough these days and spreading it thinner with oiled fingertips and have been happier with the thin, crisp results. (Directions below.) You can cook the broccoli any which way but I do find this simmer/steam to be fastest. Finally, I think this pizza would take well to crumbled sausage or chopped pepperoni or another salami, should you not need or wish to keep it vegetarian.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large or 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil for pan and fingertips
- 1 recipe pizza dough (below) or about a 2/3 volume of my lazy fitted-to-your-schedule favorite or your favorite, whichever it may be
- 3/4 pound broccoli
- Zest and juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 2 ounces coarsely grated provolone
- 4 ounces mozzarella, torn into small clumps
- 1/2 cup finely grated pecorino romano
- Salt and red pepper flakes, to taste
Make sauce: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir in flour, whisking until smooth. Add milk a splash at a time, mixing each addition until it is completely smooth before adding more milk. Add garlic, salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring, while mixture comes to a simmer and becomes thick enough to coat a spoon, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.
Prepare broccoli: Peel the stems of your broccoli with a vegetable peeler first so that they cook evenly, and cut the rest into large chunks. Pour about 1-inch puddle of salted water into a large sauté pan and bring to a boil. Add broccoli and cover with a lid and boil/steam for 2 minutes. Rinse under cold water to stop cooking, drain well and pat dry on a towel, wringing out as much extra liquid as possible. Chop into small (roughly 1/2- to 1-inch) bits and toss broccoli with lemon zest, lemon juice and pecorino, then salt and red pepper flakes to taste.
Assemble pizza: Brush either 1 13×18-inch rimmed half-sheet pan or 2 9×13-inch quarter-sheet pans (as I do) with olive oil. Divide your dough as needed (I made 3 oblong pizzas in my 13×18-inch) and use oiled fingertips to pull, stretch, nudge and press the dough across the bottom of the pan. The dough will be thin and imperfect; just try to get it even and if holes form, just pinch them together. No matter how bad it looks (you can see mine, for example), it’s going to bake up just fine, thin and crisp.
Give the white sauce a little stir and spread it evenly over the pizzas, almost completely to the edge. Sprinkle pizzas with provolone and mozzarella. Scatter broccoli mixture on top.
Bake for 13 to 16 minutes, until the pizzas are brown at the edges. For better browning on top, you can run the finished pizzas under the broiler for 1 minute. Cut into wedges, squares or strips and dig in.
(Not Really) Jim Lahey’s Basic Pizza Dough
This is halved and modified quite a bit
2 cups minus 1 tablespoon (250 grams) all-purpose or bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons (5 grams) instant or active dry yeast
A heaped 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
2/3 cups (150 grams) room temperature water
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until well blended, about 30 seconds. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours. Continue using instructions above.