At our farmer’s market, two Saturdays ago, I gleefully purchased a few heads of broccoli and a stalk of brussels sprouts (yes, I wrote stalk, and no, I didn’t really know that’s how they grow). I was filled with said glee because I’ve never purchased these items locally before. I think I paid $7 for all of it — I’m guessing it was a heavy pound of each (a pound of actual sprouts, sans-stalk).
But here’s where my happy-morning-story takes a tragic turn: this was the Saturday of my son’s battle with the flu — and while that battle wasn’t actually that bad, and no one else in the family has fallen ill, it made for a week of logistical changes, keeping him at home (read: logistical changes require a donation of my brain cells). A secondary factor in the tragedy was that, with little space in my refrigerator, I decided the green goods could stay for a day or two in a bag in our unheated mudroom (it can act like a 40-sf extra refrigerator when the weather’s cold). I unfortunately discovered that plan doesn’t really work well when the weather turns unexpectedly warm, and you forget you put stuff out there.
I found my bag-o-green-vegetables, the next Saturday. The broccoli was a goner. Totally yellow, with a stinch. The brussels sprouts, at first glance, also looked like a casualty — but upon closer, desperate examination I saw that only the top portion of the stalk was effected. At least half the sprouts, with a little creative trimming, would be totally fine.
But I decided to use them THAT DAY, and we were supposed to have pizza for dinner.
And I tried my hardest to conceal what I was doing — I knew it would not go over well. My family loves our pizza, and is sometimes willing to experiment, but really would be happiest if we just ate sausage, pepperoni, and cheese every week. I read online about someone making pizza with brussels sprouts, by only using the leaves pulled apart, so that you didn’t have to chomp down on a huge chunk in the middle of your piece of pie. The same person recommended combining them with the smokey flavor of bacon. I was sold, and hoped others in the household would be as well.
I’m happy to report that at least one member of our house agreed that it was one of the best pizzas we’ve made (I’ll leave it to you to guess which member — my hint being that he and I had to fight over the last piece). The sweetness of the sprouts is a perfect balance for the smokey bacon, and the textures dance nicely together as well. So I pass it on, in hopes that you, too can embrace your brussels sprouts. Just try and do it before you forget about them.
Pizza with Bacon, Prosciutto, Caramelized Onions, and Brussels Sprouts
Cooking the vegetables takes a while, so you’ll want to start about an hour before you plan to eat (or cook everything ahead, and assemble just before dinner).
- 3 slices bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
- about 2-3 oz (or more) prosciutto
- one large onion, sliced thin
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 2 tsp fresh)
- 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
- olive oil
- 5-7 brussels sprouts, fresh if available, with leaves pulled apart and washed
- 4 oz (or more) mozzarella
- tomato sauce of choice (see below for our recipe)
- pizza crust (see this post for our recipe)
Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a couple teaspoons olive oil. Once shimmering, add onions, garlic, and dried thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until brown and caramelized (about 25 minutes). Season with salt and pepper, and remove to a plate (discard garlic cloves if desired).
Add bacon to now-empty skillet, and cook until crisp. Remove bacon pieces to a paper-towel-lined plate. If your pan has rendered more than a tablespoon or two of fat, pour a little off. Add brussels sprout leaves to pan, and cook over high heat until caramelized, about 4 minutes. Remove to a plate.
After par-baking your pizza dough (for about five minutes in a 450º oven), spread desired amount of tomato sauce on pizza. Layer on the onions, brussels sprouts, and bacon pieces. Then scatter on your cheese, and lay the prosciutto on top (it’s best when it gets crispy from direct heat, on top of the cheese). Top with a little black pepper, and return to the oven for another 8-10 minutes, until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly.
No-Cook Tomato Sauce for Pizza (adapted from The Cook’s Bible, by Christopher Kimball)
plenty to top one pizza
- one can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a food processor, and process until blended and smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, and use immediately (or freeze for later use, but sauce will be more watery).