Caramelized Onion Pizza

This pizza is rich from the sauce, sweet from the caramelized onions, and refreshing from the fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. You can make your own dough or, what I did, use store bought.


THE RECIPE


Caramelized Onion Pizza with Aunt Lena’s Pizza Sauce

Don’t forget to check out my Tips, Tricks, and Substitutions at the bottom of the recipe.

Pizza Sauce

Ingredients

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

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil over moderate heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pan.
  2. Add the onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until soft and transparent, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Lower the heat, partially cover the pan, and allow to simmer slowly for 20-30 minutes until reduced, stirring occasionally
    • If you like a thicker sauce, allow to reduce further.
  5. When finished, puree the sauce.
    • Aunt Lena’s recipe doesn’t specify this, but I puree the sauce for this particular pizza because I’m adding a lot of extra onion as a topping. Otherwise, I would leave it as is.

Caramelized Onions

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

Directions

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the onions and garlic.
  3. Saute about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and most of the moisture has dissipated.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and cook another ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden, like caramel.
  5. Once these and the sauce are finished, you can build your pizza.

Pizza

Ingredients

  • one ball pizza dough (homemade or store bought) — about one pound
  • pizza sauce (about half the recipe)
  • caramelized onions (full recipe)
  • fresh tomato, sliced about 1/4″ thick and cut into wedges
  • packaged mozzarella, shredded
  • fresh mozzarella

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
  2. If you have a pizza stone, keep that in the oven while it preheats.
  3. On a lightly floured surface, stretch or roll out the dough until about 13″ in diameter and 1/4″ thick.
  4. If using a pizza stone, transfer the dough to a surface you can slide it off of onto the stone (a bread peal or a cookie sheet with no sides, either lightly coated in cornmeal or flour).
  5. If not using a pizza stone, transfer to a heavy baking sheet, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal or flour.
  6. 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.
  7. Sprinkle a thin layer of packaged mozzarella over the sauce.
  8. Top with caramelized onions.
  9. Cover with wedges of fresh tomato.
  10. Tear or thinly slice the fresh mozzarella and use to top the pizza.
  11. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until crust is golden and cheese has melted.
  12. Cut into wedges and serve!

Tips, Tricks, and Substitutions

Pizza Sauce

Onion: A general cooking onion is all you need here, but feel free to use any other general purpose onion, such as Spanish or Vidalia/sweet yellow.

Crushed Tomatoes: Use any canned tomato you like as long as you have 32 oz of it, including just plain canned tomato sauce (not prepared pasta sauce, plain tomato sauce).

Dried Oregano: If you want to use fresh, just increase the amount of oregano. And play around with the herbs, if you like! Keep in mind how they’ll affect the flavor. Basil would be delicious and refreshing.

Sugar: Usually, the reason sugar is added to a tomato sauce is to cut the acidity of the tomato. If you don’t want to use sugar, feel free to just leave it out. If you still want the hint of sweetness, consider caramelizing the onions, which will release their own natural sugars.

Caramelized Onions

Onions: Again, any general purpose onion will do–cooking onions, Spanish onions, Vidalia/sweet yellow onions.

White Wine: Use whatever you like or have on hand.

Oregano: If you can’t get fresh oregano, you can substitute with dried, but use only one third to half the amount called for.

Pizza

Tomato: Any ripe tomato works. If they’re out of season, I’d go for cherry or grape tomatoes because they’re almost always fairly ripe.

Packaged Mozzarella: This is referring to the mozzarella that most people commonly know. It’s technically a “low moisture” mozzarella and can be found in blocks, shredded, or as string cheese.

Fresh Mozzarella: Fresh mozzarella differs from the more commonly known and used mozzarella in that it has a high moisture content, so it’s very, very soft. So soft, in fact, it can’t really be grated. It’s delicious, very fresh tasting, and when it’s melted, it creates incredible strands of ooey gooey amazingness…I would top the entire pizza in only fresh mozzarella, but the fact is that it’s easier to get good coverage with low-moisture and then top it off with spots of fresh.

Why Build the Pizza on a Baking Sheet: You want to transfer the dough to the baking sheet prior to adding toppings because, otherwise, you’ll have an incredibly hard time transferring it! The uncooked dough is too soft and the toppings too heavy, so you can’t just pick it up and transfer it. If you have a bread peal or pizza peal (even a cookie sheet with no sides), then you can build on that and use it to slide the pizza onto your cooking surface (a pan or pizza stone). Otherwise, just build it directly on the pan.


THE STORY


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? 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 B. and I made last night actually had three different combinations. Half of it was just pepperoni (B.’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 haven’t announced that in my blog yet), B. 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, B. 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 🙂

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