In a Pickle? Make this Pizza!
Pickled veg is quite the unusual topping, but such a logical choice for pizza. What better way to cut the heaviness of all that cheese with the tangy brightness of pickled vegetables? Plus, the slight sweetness of the pickled veg complements the sweetness of the tomatoes in the sauce. The guys behind Best Pizza in Williamsburg are using pickled veg such as red onion, fennel, and cauliflower to brighten up their pizza, but the options are endless in terms of what you can pickle. So what are you waiting for? Get pickling!
Pick your Veg
Go find some vegetables you want to pickle. Whether they're growing in your backyard, on display at the nearest farmers' market, or in your grocery store, they can probably be pickled. Last fall, the guys at Best were pickling celery root, fingerling potatoes, radishes, and butternut squash. They're excited for spring to roll around, when they can pickle everything from ramps to fiddlehead ferns. Whatever veg pickles your fancy, slice it thin and uniformly, such as the sliced fennel pictured here.
Get Your Mise Together!
Now that you have your veg sliced, you will need a medium sized saucepan, 1 quart water, 1 quart white vinegar, 2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup salt, cheesecloth, your pickling spices, and butchers' twine.
Get Your Mise Together! (Part II)
Now you can make your sachet of pickling spices, including fennel seed, bay leaf, cumin, mustard seed, and black peppercorn. A sachet is just a fancy French word for a bundle of spices wrapped in cheesecloth and tied up with butchers' twine. By dropping the sachet in your pickling liquid before bringing the liquid to a boil, the flavor of the spices will infuse the pickling liquid, but you wont have a bunch of mustard seeds floating around in your pot.
Let the Heat Build
Put the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and sachet together in the sauce pan. Place the pan over high heat and bring the liquid to a boil. You are looking for some sugar and salt dissolving action, which means the liquid will be clear and it won't look cloudy. At this point, you can turn off the fire and let the pickling begin.
Let It Pour
Take your pickling liquid and pour it over whatever veg you intend to pickle. Throw the sachet in there too! Make sure all the veg is submerged--you can place plastic lids on the surface of the veg and push down. If all the veg is not submerged, you might have some nasty mold develop on the top of your beautiful veggies...ew. After the veg and liquid has cooled, cover the container with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. Let your soon-to-be-pickled veg sit one day in the refrigerator before using. Best part...your pickled veg will keep for several months.
Baby, We Like It Raw
Now that our veg is pickled...let's make some sauce. The guys at Best Pizza make their tomato sauce by putting canned tomatoes through a ricer, and then adding a little salt. No cooking involved, easy as pie. After topping your dough with the tomato sauce, follow with grated fresh mozzarella, a sprinkling of oregano, and throw that sucker in the oven. If you're cooking at Best Pizza you would be throwing it into a wood-burning oven, but whatever home oven you're working with will do just fine.
Here Comes the Veg
Once the pizza is almost fully cooked, take it out. It's crucial that the pizza is set in the middle, but not too charred on the edges. Now distribute whatever pickled veg you're working with evenly over the pizza. Put the pizza back in the oven to finish cooking for a few more minutes.
Do Try This at Home
Frank (center) and the guys at Best Pizza are pumped about Pickled Veg Pizza...and they think you will be too!