Saturday, February 18, 2012

Italian Sausage Artichoke Pizza

Italian Sausage Artichoke Soup Pizza

My Granny used to make the most wonderful Italian sausage and artichoke soup. I don't know a thing about where the recipe came from, or how on earth it came to us. When it did, it was pretty much life-changing. You can guarantee everyone's attendance if you mention you'll be making this soup for any occasion. Our family loves it so much, we've made it our traditional Christmas Evening dinner.

However, if you're anywhere in the Midwest, you know we haven't exactly been having "soup weather". Winter has skipped out on us, and we're practically headed straight for Spring. (Our tulips and daffodils have even had a peek out of the soil to see what's going on.)

Instead of soup, I've put a spin on this old favorite: everything that makes the soup so wonderful in pizza form. Ohh how I love pizza. The whole wheat crust, sweet and savory tomatoes, spicy sausage, soft artichoke hearts, sweet onions and salty parmesan, everything is right here. The hubby had first bite, immediately saying that it was terrible, that he would have to sacrifice himself and eat all of the pizza so I wouldn't have to suffer.

This is good stuff.

There are a lot of things going on here -- fresh pizza dough, a quick sauce, and then building this deliciousness. Let's get started!

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough:

First things first, let's start with the dough. The recipe below makes four 12-14 inch thin crust pizzas, or two 12-14 in thicker crust pizzas. (If you only want 2 thin crust pizzas you can freeze the remaining half of the dough or keep them in the fridge for a couple of days. You can also halve the recipe. My thought is thin crusts just mean more pizza.)

If homemade dough isn't your thing, snag a couple of pre-made whole wheat crusts from your deli. 

1 1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons active yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

If you have a bread machine, layer the ingredients in order in the machine and select a normal dough cycle.

Otherwise, stir the yeast into the water and allow it to foam for just a few minutes. Stir in the oil, and combine with the flour and salt. Knead the dough until smooth, 10-15 minutes.

Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm but draft-free place until it has doubled in size, about 90 minutes. When the dough has doubled, divide it into four equal parts and allow it to rest while you prepare everything else for the pizza.

Pizza Sauce:
This sauce is so easy and fast you have no reason not to make your own. The recipe below makes enough for two pizzas. Sacrifice your breath for the garlic. You will not regret it. The sausage in this recipe is fairly salty, so there is no additional salt in the sauce. If you are going to use this recipe for another pizza with a meat choice that isn't quite so salty, feel free to add a pinch.

1 cup crushed tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, grated (use a microplane or garlic press) or 2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil

Stir all the ingredients together. Seriously.

Now let's get to the construction. Get that oven heated to 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, get that in there, too, otherwise heat your baking pan along with the oven. This will help ensure a crispy crust.

Italian Sausage Artichoke Pizza:
2 thick or thin pizza crusts from recipe above
1 batch pizza sauce
1 pound to 20 ounces hot Italian sausage (I used Jennie-O turkey sausage), browned and drained
1 14 oz can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Roll out your pizza crust as desired, thick or thin. If you're going with thick crusts, pre-bake the crust for 5-6 minutes.

Spread half of the sauce on the pizza and give yourself a good layer of sausage. Add the artichoke hearts, breaking them up and top with half of the onion.
Almost there! Pile on half of the cheeses and slide that bad boy into the oven. Bake your pizza for 12-15 minutes, until the crust and cheeses have browned and the sauce is a little bubbly. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Let your pizza cool for a few minutes while you slide the next one into the oven. Remember, if you burn your mouth because you can't wait, you won't be able to taste just how delicious this pizza is. That would be terrible.


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