This was my first attempt at baking a pizza with a tomato sauce base, and I have to say, it turned out pretty great. We decided on the classic sausage/mushroom topping combination, which was always a favorite of mine growing up. My favorite go-to pizza dough made a lovely, crisp base for the from-scratch pizza sauce I decided I had to try. I used a recipe for basic tomato sauce from the always inspired Simply Recipes; this vegetarian sauce starts with soffrito (carrots, celery, onion) cooked in a little olive oil – but never fear, there are no carrot chunks on the pizza. After adding tomatoes and some herbs to the soffrito and allowing the mixture to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, I opted to puree batches of sauce in the blender, resulting in super delicious, yet non-chunky, pizza sauce.
Of course, we had to add yet another step to our pizza making process – I only had regular pork sausage in the freezer, so we added fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and some garlic while browning to concoct our own Italian sausage. Although it was very good, and seemed kind of special because we made it ourselves, I wouldn’t hesitate to use actual Italian sausage if I had it on hand next time.
This would work beautifully with any number of other toppings, and I am really looking forward to exploring those options in the (near) future.
Sausage and Mushroom Pizza
Yields 2 small pizzas
1/2 pound Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 to 8 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups Mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups pizza sauce
pizza dough (enough for 2 small pizzas)
- Prepare pizza dough as directed; the link above goes to my current favorite pizza dough recipe.
- About an hour before baking pizza, place baking stone on the bottom rack in the oven and preheat to 475 degrees F.
- In a medium skillet, brown Italian sausage on medium heat, 8 to 10 minutes. Strain off fat.
- In a small saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat; add mushrooms and cook until slightly softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
- Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. Hold one dough ball in your hands and shape using gravity, turning the dough to stretch it. Place stretched dough on cornmeal sprinkled baking sheet and press into shape if needed.
- Spread half of the pizza sauce on the crust and top with half of the sausage and mushrooms. Sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
- Using a spatula, make sure the crust is not sticking to the baking sheet and transfer it to the baking stone (I just slide it from one to the other, using the spatula to push). Bake for 10 to 11 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown.
- Allow pizza to rest for one or two minutes before slicing.
- Repeat steps with second ball of dough and remaining ingredients.