Caramelized Onion Pizza

Growing up, I always remember Saturday nights as 'pizza night' at my parents' house. Just as we went to Big Boy for breakfast Saturday morning and had pancakes Sunday morning, we ordered Little Caesar's pizza for Saturday night dinner...every...week. As a result, I have to admit, I'm not really a big pizza fan! I'm incredibly, incredibly picky. I actually went years without eating it until a trip to Spain my junior year of college.

What's the big difference between Spain's pizza and ours, you ask? A lot, actually. First of all, we didn't order from a chain "pizzeria" like Jet's or Pizza Hut. This came from nice, non-chain restaurants where, I assume, a chef or team of people work hard to establish really great recipes in order to keep their business afloat. Sure, I have a bias against chain restaurants, but you have to admit unique, privately owned establishments tend to have better food! Anyway, these pizzas were thin crust, just as I like them, and made with fresh ingredients, which, in my opinion, bring a new light to pizza...I am not a pepperoni and packaged mozzarella fan (surprise, surprise!). I think, after so many years of regular eating, I just got sick of the generic American pizza. Having it prepared in a different way, though, created something completely new for me, which is exactly what homemade pizza does.

What I like about making pizza yourself is that you can have it exactly as you like it best. I don't usually prefer meat on my pizza, at all...I think we all know I'm not a big meat person, in general...but, on occasion, I do like a nice sprinkling of Italian sausage! The problem is that it's different everywhere you go--sometimes it's large chopped pieces, sometimes little crumbled bits, sometimes hot, sometimes mild! So, to be safe, I usually just don't bother asking for it. At home, though, I can prepare it my favorite way and I can do as many different topping combos on one pizza as I like without paying more, which is another plus! 

The pizza Billy and I made last night actually had three different combinations. Half of it was just pepperoni (Billy's favorite), a quarter was the same with the addition of caramelized onions, and the last quarter was caramelized onions topped with wedges of fresh tomato. For the purposes of this blog, I've simply posted the recipe for the latter portion, since the remaining only requires you buy some cheese and pepperoni or any other toppings you'd like.

Now, I think meals made completely from scratch are almost always the best; you just can't beat something freshly made at home. So, a pizza made with home prepared dough and sauce is exquisite. However, sometimes you haven't given yourself the time to make these things, so I think it's completely acceptable to go out and buy them...though, I must say, the sauce doesn't take but half an hour and truly does make a total difference in the outcome. 

Since I haven't been able to get too much cooking in after finally having the baby (yup, she's here! I know I hadn't announced that in my blog yet), Billy just picked up some pizza dough at a local Italian bakery--you can really find it any number of places, though. Our local produce stores tend to carry them in the freezer aisle and, I assume, some grocery stores may as well. Anyway, Billy picked up the dough for us to make calzones a few nights ago (delicious!), so we just used the leftovers for pizza last night. I did make my own sauce, though, and encourage you to do the same! Then, simply gather together your favorite toppings and go to town :) 

Caramelized Onion Pizza with Aunt Lena's Pizza Sauce

Pizza Sauce Ingredients:
  • one 32-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Saute the onions in the olive oil until transparent. Add the remaining ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat, partially cover the pan, and allow to bubble slowly for 20-30 minutes until reduced, stirring occasionally (if you like a thicker sauce, allow to reduce further). Aunt Lena's recipe doesn't specify this, but I puree the sauce when it's finished, especially for this particular pizza because I'm adding a lot of extra onion as a topping. Leaving it as is, though, with the whole slices of onion and bits of tomato is great as well!

Caramelized Onion Ingredients:
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced thin
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp dry white wine
  • 2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Over medium low heat, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil about 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are soft and most of the moisture has dissipated. Add the remaining ingredients and cook another ten minutes, until onions are lightly browned, like caramel.

Pizza Ingredients:
  • one ball pizza dough (homemade or store bought) -- about one pound
  • pizza sauce
  • caramelized onions (full recipe)
  • fresh tomato, sliced about 1/4" thick and cut into wedges
  • packaged mozzarella, shredded
  • fresh mozzarella

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Stretch or roll out the dough (on a lightly floured surface) until about 13" in diameter and 1/4" thick (or desired thickness). Transfer to a heavy baking sheet, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal or flour; if you don't prepare your pizza on the actual baking sheet, you'll likely have a lot of trouble transferring it to bake

Spread the pizza sauce to cover all but an inch of dough along the edge--use as much or as little sauce as you like; we spread a thin layer, using maybe half the sauce from the above recipe. Sprinkle a thin layer of packaged mozzarella over the sauce; top with caramelized onions, then cover with wedges of fresh tomato and, finally, top with a layer of fresh mozzarella (I tear it into bits that I drop evenly over the top, but you can lay down large pieces or even try shredding it). 

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until crust is golden and cheese has melted. Cut into wedges and serve! 

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