Pizzas have come a long way in recent years, especially when it comes to the homemade version. You no longer have to rely on the Chef-Boy-in-a-box crust mix (thank goodness!) because making your own crust is as simple as throwing a handful of ingredients into a bread machine, and your pizza dough is ready in about 90 minutes. You can find our recipe for Pizza Crust here. If you don't have a bread machine, many grocery stores also have prepared crust dough in their bakery section. Our local store offers several different flavors of crust including multi-grain and Parmesan. Once you decide on the crust you can move on to the toppings.
Pizza toppings are endless. Start with choosing a protein such as diced cooked chicken, cooked shrimp or crab, lean ham, cooked Italian or regular sausage, or just some pepperoni. Next add a few selections of vegetables such as thinly sliced peppers or onions, sliced fresh tomatoes or mushrooms, or green or black olives. Or you can get a little more adventurous and try asparagus, artichokes, sliced pepperoncini peppers, sun dried tomatoes or even eggplant.
Then there is cheese. You can't have a pizza without cheese and this is a great way to personalize your pizza, just the way you like it. Beyond mozzarella and cheddar, try crumbled feta or blue cheese (both of which are yummy with diced chicken), or try adding a thin layer of creamy ricotta cheese.
The final step is choosing a sauce for your pizza. There are many varieties of flavored tomato sauce available that already have garlic, oregano or basil included, but you could also choose pesto sauce, Alfredo or barbeque sauce or just a simple marinara.
For our pizza tonight, we chose a homemade roasted red pepper sauce. For this sauce I like to buy the red peppers that are packing in olive oil with whole garlic cloves. Use a small blender to puree 1 whole pepper, plus one of the garlic cloves with 2 tablespoons of cream cheese and you have an instant sauce.
Next, we started with sliced chorizo, and added several of our favorite toppings, black olives, thinly sliced artichoke hearts, shaved Serrano ham and a light topping of smoked provolone cheese. The pizza was so full of flavor and it was something you could never find on any take-out menu.
Another great combination that we enjoy is a Shrimp, Spinach and Red Onion Pizza with an Alfredo-type sauce. For this pizza we actually used the same sauce as we used in the Chi-Chi's Seafood Enchiladas, but you could also use a store bought sauce for convenience.
My favorite homemade pizza would have to be Shrimp, Crab and Asparagus Pizza with a cream cheese sauce. This recipe has actually been a long kept secret and we've made it many times. This is an ideal way to use up any leftover shrimp and/or crab from a Low Country Boil, because the seafood is perfectly cooked and seasoned and can be added to the pizza with very little prep.
For the Crab Pizza
1 Pre-Baked Pizza Crust (as above we used the bread machine dough)
1 can Asparagus Cuts
1/3 cup Minced Red Onion
Cooked Shrimp and/or Crab, remove any shells and chop the seafood into small bite-sized pieces
4 oz Grated Italian 6-Cheese Blend
2 oz Grated Cheddar
3 oz Cream Cheese, softened
2 to 3 TB Sour Cream
1-1/2 tsp Real Horseradish (not the creamy kind)
1/2 tsp Lemon Pepper
Combine the ingredients in a small glass bowl and blend with a fork until creamy. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add additional sour cream, one teaspoon at a time, until the mixture is spreadable.
Spread the mixture onto the pre-baked crust, add a layer of the cooked shrimp and crab, then a layer of asparagus, followed by the onion and then the cheeses. Bake at 425 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden.