I have a very unfoodie-like confession to make: I’m over Neopolitan-style pizza. I know, I know. It’s the fancy pizza, the authentic pizza, the “real” pizza. But I’m sick of it. Please understand that I rode the Neopolitan bandwagon for the past five years but enough is enough. It seems like every pizza joint in my neighborhood serves the stuff. I can’t even fault them for it. There is something alluring about the words “00 flour” and “900º wood-burning oven”. Fancy flour and screaming hot ovens wreak of authenticity and respectability. It gets people through their doors and there’s no shame in that. But am I the only one left in Toronto that prefers New York or Chicago style? I need that crisp, bready stuff. So, in retaliation, I made this Sicilian-Style Pizza with Roasted Brussels Sprouts. It’s pretty much a pan of bread with some toppings.
What exactly constitutes Sicilian-style pizza you ask? Well, let me tell you. Sicilian-style pizza is a square, thick crust pizza that is ubiquitous in New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oregon, Michigan, and Connecticut. Sicilian-style pizza also goes by the name “Nonna-style” and its origins can be traced back to, duh, Sicily. More specifically, this type of square pie owes a lot to the Sicilian dish Sfincione. Sfincione hails from the province of Palermo and is characterized by its square shape, thick crust, and sparse toppings. Think Foccacia on steroids.
This bready, saucy treat migrated over to the United States with the first Sicilian immigrants during the 1880s. From there Sfincione evolved into a deep dish affair, piled high with sauce, cheese and toppings. Today, Sicilian-style pizza is synonymous with potlucks, Sunday dinners, and parties. Think about those party pizzas available at every pizza chain. All of them owe their format to Sfincione.
For the dough recipe below, I relied very heavily on the guidance provided by Serious Eats. Serious Eats is kind of my go-to for overly specific food questions. If you’ve never checked them out, I strongly suggest you do. They are a pack of nerds who overthink anything and everything food related. In other words, they’re my version of the “cool kids”. Anyway, they were very helpful, so I big ups to them.
Having said that, I did change the order of things, just because I’m a control freak and I prefer to make yeasted products a certain way. I have no doubt following their specific recipe will yield outstanding results, but I didn’t really test it personally. The recipe below, however, I can certainly vouch for. Seriously, hands down new favorite pie.
Aside from making me inexplicably happy with its deliciousness, this Sicilian-style pizza also solved a dilemma for me. You see, my bf and I tend to make pizzas on Fridays and we’ve been doing this for so long that we’re starting to they’re quite good. When we get kind of cocky about the recipes we’ve been developing, we tend to want to show off by serving them to company. The only problem is, when we make our traditional pizzas, we usually make four. You’re probably thinking, “Four pizzas? Really not seeing the problem.” Well, the crappy thing is we have to bake them individually because we only have one pizza stone. That means one of us would have to hang out in the kitchen transferring pizzas from counter to oven to cooling rack four times over. Not ideal when your friends are laughing and getting sauced in the next room.
Not being able to participate in cocktail hour is one thing, but think about that first pizza that went in the oven. It will be well past its oven-fresh prime by the time the last pizza is cooked. But you also can’t start feeding the first pizza to people before the other ones are cooked. That would mean one of you would have to leave the dinner table mid-meal to fetch/bake more pizza. Can you tell I’ve thought about this a lot? Anyway, while I was making this Sicilian-style pizza, it dawned on me; this pizza is the answer to all my pizza-related problems. Just bake one of these sheet pan pizzas, make a salad, and Boom!, you’re the Queen of Pizza Parties.
I haven’t unleashed a Sicilian-style pizza party on anyone just yet, but when I do I think I’ll opt for this Roasted Brussels sprout number. I’m having a Brussels sprout moment. At one time, I hated them with a fiery, burning passion. But that was back when I’d only had them boiled – a terrible thing to do to a Brussels sprout. I can still remember the first time I had them roasted. I couldn’t believe how sorely I had misjudged these micro cabbages. The roasting process had gifted them this complex, almost umami flavor. They kind of tasted meaty, if that makes sense… I really think it doesn’t.
Roasted Brussels sprouts may seem like an unlikely addition to pizza but they really seem to work here. Paired with banana pepper (a favorite of mine), stringy cheese and dollops of ricotta, these sprouts made it hard to miss the meat. I really feel like my description of this pizza isn’t doing it justice. This Sicilian-style pizza was so so good, you just have to experince it.
Consider this Sicilian-Style Pizza with Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Banana Peppers a serious contender for your next pizza night. There’s absolutely no way it could disappoint…unless, of course, Brussels sprouts make you ralph.
- 1 batch Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- 1 batch Sicilian-Style Pizza Dough
- 1 (340g/12oz) package mozzarella, shredded
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4-1/2 cup pickled banana pepper rings
- 1 teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups luke warm water
- 3 - 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3 cups Brussels sprouts, shaved with a mandoline
- 3 shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Place yeast, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the water in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let sit for 5 minutes.
- Set the mixer to the lowest speed and add the salt. Start adding the flour in 1/4 cup increments. Mix until a tacky dough forms. About 10 minutes.
- Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead briefly.
- Drizzle half of the remaining olive oil on a 13-18-inch baking pan. Evenly distribute the oil using a pastry brush. Coat the surface of the dough with the rest of the oil.
- Shape the dough to cover the base of the baking pan. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour and a half.
- While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 425F.
- Place the Brussels sprouts, shallots, olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes and pepper in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine.
- Spread the dressed veggies evenly on a large baking sheet.
- Roast for 15 minutes or until caramelized. Set aside until ready to use.
- Turn the oven to 550F.
- Using your finger, create a border of impressions 1/2-inch from the edge of the dough to form a crust.
- Top the dough with the roasted Brussels sprouts and cover with mozzarella.
- In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, lemon zest, and salt. Dot the surface of the pizza evenly with spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture.
- Finish the pizza with the banana pepper rings and additional crushed red pepper flakes. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
- Let sit for 10 minutes before serving with a beer. 🙂