Pizza is the perfect food. Since it’s humble beginnings as simple baked bread with vegetable toppings over seven thousand years ago, pizza has become one of the most loved, most consumed, and most experimentally creative foods in the world.
That said, it’s still amazing how many people order pepperoni – a product that doesn’t even exist in Italy.
Break the habit. Live a little. Stop calling the delivery people and try something new. Use these recipes as a guide or simply as inspiration to explore a different side of pizza. Just don’t forget the wine. A good pizza isn’t the same without a good bottle of wine.
Spicy Mango Pizza with black Beans and Zucchini
The almost creamy sweetness of the mango, mixed with the spice of the salsa and the freshness of the zucchini make this a perfectly vegetal pizza offering that just kind of taps you on the shoulder and asks politely for an off-dry Pinot Gris.
Wine Pairing: Etude Pinot Gris 2013, Carneros, California $26
Honey Goat Cheese Pizza
Honey and goat cheese is one of the best pairing of tastes ever. Why not add it to a pizza? The sweetness and richness of the combination melts together with the dough to perfection. To balance those flavors, add a dry and slightly acidic Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc
Wine Pairing: Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2014, Loire, France $28
Arugula Pomegranate Pizza
Make this one before the pomegranates are gone for the season. This pizza is so simple, with only a few ingredients. Arugula has a nice peppery quality that compliments the tanginess of the pomegranates. A delightfully simple and herbal Gruner Veltliner from Austria adds to the simple elegance.
Wine Pairing: Laurenz V Charming Gruner Veltliner 2013, Austria $27
Nectarine Sage Blue Cheese Pizza
This may seem like a weird one, but combining the nectarines with blue cheese makes this a sweet and salty pizza explosion. The flavors can be a bit overwhelming, so enjoy small portions with a slightly sweet Riesling so as not to lose the flavor of the wine.
Wine Pairing: Dr. Loosen Blue Slate Estate Kabinett 2014, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany $19
Spicy Thai Chicken Pizza With Peanut Sauce
One of the best pizzas ever, but not well known. The combination of flavors is sublime. Just for fun, add just a touch of cilantro as a garnish after it comes out of the oven for that little something extra. To balance the spice of this pizza, you need something with some residual sugar and less acid. That usually calls for Beaujolais, but this time, try Barbera. It is pizza, afterall.
Wine Pairing: Paitin Barbera d’Alba Campolive 2010, Piedmont, Italy $27
Grilled Chicken Tex-Mex Pizza
It’s like chili, enchiladas, and pizza all in one. The flavors meld together perfectly and this pizza can easily compete with your favorite appetizer nacho dish. For a twist, cook it on a charcoal grill outdoors for that extra smoky flavor. The smoke, spice, and balance of a young Primitivo blends perfectly with the smoke, spice and fresh vegetables of the pizza. These two together are just too easy to enjoy.
Wine Pairing: Cantine Due Palme Sangaetano Primitivo di Manduria 2012, Italy $16
Spanish Tapas Pizza
This one is a little on the nose, but it has to be. The onions and roasted red peppers are tapa staples, and if you’re going to make a pizza with chorizo and Manchego then you have to serve it with a nice fruity and tannic Rioja. It balances the spice and adds just the right sweetness from the Tempranillo grapes to compliment the saltiness of the sausage and aged cheese.
Wine Pairing: Bodegas Muriel Reserva 2008 Rioja, Spain $17
As a bonus pizza reward, forget the pizza dough in all these links and make your own from scratch. Don’t have a recipe? Problem solved:
In a large bowl or the bowl of your countertop mixer, combine the water, yeast, honey, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, stirring to combine. Let the mixture sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and the salt, mixing by hand or on low with the dough hook on your mixer until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth and a little sticky, about 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes with a mixer.
Oil a large mixing bowl with remaining olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place, free from drafts until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Yellow cornmeal, for sprinkling the baking sheet