Broccoli Rabe, Italian Sausage & Ricotta Pizza

Italian sausage, broccoli rabe & ricotta pizzaAbout a year ago, my life changed in a big way.  I discovered this recipe for no-knead pizza dough that yields my favorite kind of restaurant-pizza crust, right out of my home oven.  It’s thin in the middle, chewy and bubbly around the edges, and a total cinch to make.  I’ve been talking it up to friends and family (come on, Dad–try it!  I know you’ll love it!), but somehow we haven’t talked about it here since my initial discovery.

Well, let’s change that!  Let’s talk pizza today.  We’ll definitely use my go-to dough and I’m thinking some garlicky sautéed broccoli rabe, spicy Italian sausage, and ricotta cheese sound like awfully good toppings for this chilly evening.  A bottle of red?  Maybe a movie?  Good, I’m glad you’re on board.

The only catch with this dough is that you have to get it started the night before you plan to eat it.  Or you can mix it up whenever you have a free moment, days or weeks in advance, and keep pre-portioned balls portioned in the freezer, ready to access when your pizza cravings hit.  Since I discovered this pizza dough, I don’t like to be without a few balls in the freezer.  It’s always a treat and an excellent way to use up odd bits of cheese, a few olives, or some leftover veggies.

I’ll walk you through the basics of this dough, but if you want to see how it comes together in more detail, click back to when I first mentioned it.

All you need is flour, a bit of yeast, salt, and water, plus a big bowl, a whisk, a wooden spoon, and a strong arm.  Whisk together the dry ingredients.

Whisking together dry ingredients for pizza doughSlowly pour water into the flour mixture and stir with the wooden spoon until it all comes together in a big, messy clump.

Mixing no-knead pizza doughOkay, now all you have to do is cover it and let it take a long, leisurely rest.  When it has doubled in size and is covered in tiny bubbles, turn it out onto a floured board.  

the dough has risen!Divide the mass into however many pizza you’re making.  A full recipe will yield enough for 8 personal-sized pizzas or 4 shareable pies.  Shape each portion into a ball and allow to rest for an hour or so while you preheat the oven and pizza stone and prep your toppings.

pizza dough ballsNow for the toppings!  I’ve got some spicy Italian sausage, a big bunch of broccoli rabe, and ricotta cheese.

broccoli rape & sausageCook the sausage, breaking it up into bite-sized pieces as you go.  Be sure to get every side nice and crispy.

Italian sausage for pizzaPull the sausage out of the pan so we can reuse it for the broccoli rabe.  I’m just using the leafy parts and some of the thinner stalks for my pizza.  The thick stalks will go back into the veggie drawer and I’ll blanch them and use them in a less exciting dinner later in the week.

If there’s a lot of fat left from the sausage, drain some off; if there’s not much at all, add a little olive oil to the pan.  Saute a few cloves of sliced garlic until they start to sizzle and your kitchen starts to smell like the pizzeria it has become for the evening.  Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat and toss in the chopped broccoli rabe.  If it doesn’t look like way too much at this point, you’re probably not using enough.  Give the greens a few flips and in 2 minutes they’ll wilt and absorb all of that good garlicky flavor.

chopping broccoli rapesauteed broccoli rabeTime to put it all together.  Stretch a ball of dough into a thin round.  Keep the perimeter a bit thicker so you’ll have some good chewy crust to gnaw on after you’ve devoured the center.  Drizzle the crust with a bit of olive oil, then scatter broccoli rabe and a few pieces of sausage around.  Top with a few dollops of ricotta and get that pizza into the oven.

topping the pizza 5 minutes later, you’re digging in to a little slice of heaven, right in your own kitchen.  We need to do this more often!

broccoli rape, Italian sausage & ricotta pizza

Broccoli Rabe, Italian Sausage & Ricotta Pizza
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

I love pizza night! At my house it’s a casual affair, one pizza is sliced and eaten while another one heads into the oven…all over a good beer or red wine, of course!
Author:
Recipe type: Pizza, Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • ½ batch “>No-Knead Pizza Dough, divided into 2 or 4 balls
  • 2 large links (about 10 oz) Hot Italian Sausage
  • 4ish cloves of Garlic, thinly sliced
  • a few pinches Red Pepper Flakes
  • about 1 c. Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
  • freshly grated Parmesan
  • Cornmeal, for the pizza stone
  • Olive Oil

Instructions
  1. Place a rack topped with a pizza stone in the upper ⅓ of your oven. Preheat your oven to 550° (or as hot as it will go) for an hour. Don’t skimp on the preheat–your pizza will thank you for it! Allow the pizza dough to rest at room temperature while the oven preheats and you prep the toppings.
  2. Remove the sausages from their casings and brown in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Break the sausage up into bite-sized pieces as you cook it and make sure all sides are evenly browned, 8-10 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a small plate or bowl, leaving the fat behind in the pan (you’ll use the same pan to sauté the garlic and broccoli rabe).
  3. Roughly chop the leafy green parts and the thinner stems of your bunch of broccoli rape. I save the thicker stalks for later use–they’re fine if you blanch and sauté them, but they’re a little much for use as a pizza topping.
  4. If there is more than just a thin coating of fat in the pan from the garlic, pour some of it off. Conversely, if the pan is on the dry side, you might need to add a little olive oil. Return to medium-high heat and add the garlic and red pepper flakes. How many red pepper flakes? Well, how spicy is your sausage and how much heat do you like? My sausage was pretty hot, so I went pretty light, figuring we could always add more to the finished pizza, as needed. Sauté until the garlic is fragrant and just beginning to take on a little color, 1-2 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe. It will look like a lot, but it will quickly shrink down. Season with a pinch of salt and toss until wilted, about 2 minutes.
  5. Have all of your ingredients organized so you can top the pizza quickly. Pull the hot pizza stone out of the oven and dust with cornmeal. Stretch the pizza dough into a circle and set on the stone. Drizzle with a little olive oil, scatter pieces of sausage and broccoli rabe on top, and finish with small dollops of ricotta. Work very quickly, as the dough will start cooking as soon as it hits the hot stone (I find it much easier to assemble the pizza this way, rather than assembling it on another board and transferring–though in the interest of taking pictures for this post, I contradicted myself). Transfer the pizza to oven and turn the broiler on high.
  6. Bake the pizza under the broiler until the crust is cooked through and golden, 5-6 minutes. Transfer it to a cutting board, grate a little Parmesan over the top, and slice it up.

 

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