Whew, what a weekend! The weather, the excitement of the Super Bowl…
…and the completion of another weekend project!
First of all, was I out of the loop or did this snow come from no where? I knew it was supposed to snow this weekend, but I didn’t know it was going to snow all day yesterday! There was no hope for leaving, so I had a productive day checking one thing off my list after another. Don’t you love it when that happens?!
Since I don’t care all that much about the Super Bowl, I’ll jump to what I’m most excited about: our completed dining room!
After last week’s big debate on colors, I finally made a choice and we got it up on the walls on Saturday. Although initially it looked a bit bright (because, let’s face it, it is), with the furniture and things back on the walls, it looked a lot more inviting. While I’m not a huge fan of vertical blinds, we changed the vanes to a gray color and it made all the difference. I’m realizing my last minute choices seem to be the most successful ones.
And you know what else I’m excited about? This pizza — Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta Pizza.
Seriously you guys, it is soo good. So flavorful. So gourmet. I know, I know, it doesn’t look that appetizing and it has the dreaded vegetable known as Brussels sprouts in the name, but trust me on this one! Philip did and he’ll personally say he’s glad he just let me run with my crazy idea of adding Brussels sprouts to his pizza. What started out as just a normal “homemade pizza night” turned into a last minute stop at the grocery store on my way home from work last week as I made the decision to add the Brussels sprouts sitting in the fridge onto the pizza itself. I couldn’t just make it simple and add a few sprouts on the pizza, though. Nope, I ran with it and eliminated the other ingredients I was originally planning on putting on it (including the tomato-based sauce) and added pancetta and Fontina cheese to the mix.
I also already had leeks in the fridge that I was planning on adding to the pizza. Lately, it’s been my go-to instead of onions. For some reason, I just love the subtle, more delicate, onion flavor that doesn’t overpower the recipe its used in. It matched perfectly with the Brussels sprouts for this pizza. Talk about a nutrient-packed pizza with the sprouts and leeks!
Now the pancetta may not be as nutrient-dense as the veggies on the pizza, but it’s all about balance and believe me, it gives the pizza so much flavor! It’s similar to bacon (they’re both cured pork belly), but it isn’t smoked and has different spices and aromatics added to it, giving it a completely different flavor profile to bacon. It’s a splurge, but worth it. Technically, yes, you could substitute it out for bacon, but you’d be missing out on the great flavor profile of the sautéed veggies with the pancetta.
If you’re like me, you get pancetta and proscuitto mixed up. They sound so similar, right? They may sound similar, but they’re very different (well, as different as something can be when it comes from the same animal). The main difference is that proscuitto comes from the ham and is slowly cured. Once cured, it can be eaten as is without having to cook it. I learn best with mnemonics, so I always remember that I need a pan to cook the pancetta, but don’t need to worry about a pan for proscuitto since it can be eaten “raw”. That helps me remember that pancetta and bacon are most closely related between the two Italian terms. I hope this helps all of you who struggle with this, too. Unless I’m the only one that struggles with this, then never mind. :)
Alrighty, back to the pizza! The best way that Philip and I could describe this pizza was gourmet. It was complex, without being too complex. All the flavors compliment each other from the Fontina cheese to the pancetta and the balsamic Brussels sprouts.
If you’re looking to give your pizza night an upgrade this week, this is the pizza to try. It’s impressive, but no more difficult than your average homemade pizza. Don’t let the name scare you, you’ll be a fan of Brussels sprouts after you try this pizza for sure.
Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta Pizza
- 1 Whole wheat pizza crust dough
- 1 (3 oz) package of pancetta (I used La Quercia)
- 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil, plus an additional 1 Tablespoon for brushing on pizza
- 1 bunch leeks (about 2 large or 3 medium sized leeks), chopped
- 1/2 lb Brussels sprouts, stems removed and sliced thinly
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Fresh Mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz)
- Fontina cheese (about 3-4 oz)
- With pizza stone in the oven, preheat oven to 500°. (If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can use a baking sheet.)
- Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until mostly crispy (it will continue to crisp in the oven), about 5 minutes. Remove the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate and pat dry. Crumble into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
- Remove fat drippings from pan and drizzle about 1/2 tablespoon olive oil into pan. Add the Brussels sprouts and leeks to the pan and cook until just beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar; stir around to evenly distribute the vinegar. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook an additional minute and remove from heat; set aside.
- Roll out the pizza dough into a thin crust (1/8-1/4 inch thickness). Place pizza on parchment paper and put parchment paper + pizza onto a pizza peel. Brush olive oil onto the pizza. Sprinkle a thin layer of both Mozzarella and Fontina cheeses
onto the base of the pizza. Top with the Brussels sprouts mixture. Top with more cheese and the pancetta.
- Lower oven temperature to 475°. Place pizza and parchment paper onto the pizza stone. Bake for ~10 minutes or until crust is crispy and cheese is starting to brown. Let cool slightly before slicing.