Crumbled Sausage, Spinach and Ricotta Cheese… yes! When Matt suggested that we try these toppings on our latest batch of Trader Joe’s pizza crust I enthusiastically agreed and, after enjoying the end result last night, I don’t know why we never tried this delicious combination before!
For Christmas Matt gave me My Pizza by Jim Lahey and, although I haven’t actually made any of the recipes yet (I’m holding out for a pizza stone and peel first!), the cooking method that we used for this recipe was definitely inspired by the book. I usually cook pizza at 425°F but, after reading Jim Lahey’s chapter on cooking dough, we decided to try something radically different and instead broiled the pizzas in a preheated 500°F oven. The resulting pies had a whole new level of caramelization and wonderful crispiness that I’ve never before experienced in a home-cooked pizza. Yum!
White Pizza with Sausage, Spinach and Ricotta
You will need…
2 Sweet Italian Sausages
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
2-3 handfuls Baby Spinach
1 package fresh Pizza Dough (as usual, I used Trader Joe’s dough)
Flour, for dusting pizza dough
Approx. 1/4 cup coarsely chopped Yellow Onion (optional)
12 oz. Ricotta Cheese
3-4 cups Shredded Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese
Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
Preheat your oven to 500°F. Remove the sausage from the casings and press into the bottom of a preheated skillet over medium-high heat. Allow it to cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes and then use a metal spatula to stir the sausage and separate it into crumbled bits. When the sausage is completely cooked through (and, ideally, getting a little crispy on the edges!), transfer to a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat and, if needed, add about a tablespoon of olive oil (there might already be enough fat in the skillet from the sausages). Add the minced garlic and allow it to cook in the oil until it is fragrant and just turning golden brown. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the spinach. Use tongs to toss and stir the spinach until it is wilted then remove from heat.
On a flour-dusted surface, halve the pizza dough and stretch each piece into a generous individual-sized pie. (Mine usually each end up being about 6” by 10” which fits well on my rectangular pan.) Place the crusts on a non-stick or lightly oiled pan (or use a pizza stone, if you have one!).
Spread about half of the ricotta cheese onto the two pizza crusts with the back of a spoon, leaving a 1” margin around the edges. Sprinkle on some chopped onions if you want (Matt didn’t want any but I tried them and they were great!) and top with the shredded Mozzarella. Next, evenly distribute the cooked sausage over the pizzas and add the wilted spinach and garlic. Drop the remaining ricotta onto the pizza in spoonfuls and finish off the pizzas with freshly grated Parmesan.
Just before putting the pizzas in the preheated oven, switch the oven to “Broil” and cook the pizzas on the top rack for approximately 10 minutes. Check on the pizzas frequently (it’s OK to open the door) to make sure that they are not burning. The pizzas are done when the cheese is turning golden brown and the crust is just starting to brown on the edges.