When making pizza at home I tend not to stray from the norm. Fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil on a thin crispy crust, commonly known as a pizza margherita is what I usually make.
As we all know, pizza can adapt to almost any ingredient and outside of Italy this is usually the case. Crazy concoctions with almost any food are thrown on a flat dough, baked and voila...a pizza. In a sense I admire people's creativity but when I see things like "Buffalo chicken wing pizza" it drives me insane.
When I do stray from the everyday basic pizza, I like to use ingredients that are within the realm of flavors typical to Italian cooking.
Smoked ricotta I received this summer from my wife's uncle visiting from Calabria had been sitting in my fridge as I wondered what to do with it. Typically it is eaten with salumi or shaved over pasta but I was itching to try and cook with it. I quickly discovered that it had no real melting capabilities, rather it dried up a little more and the smokiness was intensified. When I sliced and baked it, it browned nicely on the surface but retained a baked potato like texture on the inside.
Not wanting the cheese to over power the pizza I figured I had to pair it with other boldly flavored ingredients. Oven roasting a tomato concentrates its flavor making it rich, smokey and a great match to the smoked ricotta. The tomato loses much of it's moisture, concentrating the sugars but remains more plump than a sun dried tomato. Since the cheese and tomatoes were slightly dry and lacking in cheesy, saucy gooeyness I added some roasted red pepper for moisture and sharp flavor.
Basil pesto, fried garlic, red onion and good quality extra virgin olive oil balance nicely with the cheese, tomato and peppers.
1 pizza dough
Smoked ricotta sliced 1/8 of an inch thick ( as much as you like )
6 canned san marzano tomatoes -oven roasted (see above)
1 roasted red pepper cut in thin strips
3-4 Tbsp basil pesto
3 cloves of garlic, lightly fried
1 small red onion finely sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
Drizzle lightly with olive oil and place in a 400f oven.
Bake pizza until crust and smoked ricotta are golden brown.
Allow pizza to cool slightly before cutting.