An Unusual, but Outstanding Pizza. If I Do Say So Myself.
I know this is an unorthodox pizza. After all, it contains roasted pears, havarti cheese, and pomegranate arils. No mozzarella or tomato sauce in sight. And it is one of the best things I’ve ever made. No reason to be humble about it because it really is that good.
There are several interesting things going on here, but I’ll start with the crust, because the toppings don’t matter at all if you don’t have a great crust. I wanted a pan pizza that was crisp on the bottom, but not so crisp that it tears up your mouth when you bite into it. And I wanted it to have a soft, but chewy crumb. I used a 14 x 14 inch dark pan for this, but it could also be made in a regular 13 x 18 inch half sheet pan. I used J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s crust recipe but made several changes which I will explain in the recipe.
Now, on to the toppings. Because tomato sauce wouldn’t work for these flavors, I decided on an unusual type of green sauce. I’ve been using this technique for green sauces for years now. I can’t remember where this came from, but it goes like this. Herbs or leafy greens, olive oil, ice cold butter, a tiny bit of grated parmesan and a couple of ice cubes are ground up in a blender. This produces a thick sauce that stays bright green, even after it’s baked. I didn’t want to use a lot of basil because its strong flavor would overwhelm this pizza. I simply wanted a green vegetal flavor, so I used mostly arugula, with only a tiny bit of basil, knowing it’s slightly bitter and peppery flavor would play well with the roasted pears.
As for the toppings, well, gently roasted pears and red onions sounded good to me. Seeing as I’d just gotten a bottle of absolutely wonderful Pear Balsamic, I used some of it here, along with a little olive oil and fresh rosemary. I only roasted them until they’d just started to soften, knowing they’d fully soften when they were baked on the pizza.
Havarti seemed like a good choice for the cheese. I’ve always loved it paired with pears and it melts beautifully. Thinking that it would need a hit of freshness and brightness, I thought pomegranate arils would do the trick and man, was that a good choice. They added exactly what was needed. I’ve never made anything of which I’m more proud than this pizza. It really knocked our socks off.