Gremolata (greməˈlätə)!…………. Gremolata is just a funny, fancy Italian name for a delicious mixture, usually made up of fresh parsley, lemon zest and garlic. I had some fun with my gremolata; adding fresh basil, cilantro and chives, in addition to the parsley. Gremolata is traditionally served over slow-cooked braised meats, but I’ve found that it adds a delicious, fresh touch to all kinds of dishes. I love to sprinkle it over grilled chicken or shrimp, roasted vegetables….. it makes everyday mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, even grilled cheese quite gourmet!
The pizza itself is very simple; a pesto base topped with sliced, fresh mozzarella, a scatter of sweet Italian sausage and Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, a flash bake until the crust turns golden in a hot oven – and the final touch – fresh, vibrantly green, Spring Herb Gremolata. I’ve been tweaking and testing this one for a while now and resident “the taste-testers” think it’s perfect! I have a feeling this Pesto Pizza w/ Italian Sausage, Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Spring Herb Gremolata just might become one of your favorites too!
Pesto Pizza w/ Italian Sausage, Slow-Roasted Tomatoes & Spring Herb Gremolata
Ingredients for pizza:
½ recipe Best Ever – Pizza Dough, or use purchased pizza dough
3 tablespoons pesto
8 ounces Italian sausage*, cooked and crumbled into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped fairly fine
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped fairly fine
1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped fairly fine
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped fairly fine
1 clove garlic, chopped fine
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest, about the zest from one medium lemon
a pinch of sea salt
⅛ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1. Prepare pizza dough as directed or use a purchased ball of pizza dough.
2. While dough is rising, prepare gremolata; combine garlic, lemon zest, fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
3. Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of your oven. Preheat the oven to 475°F for 30 minutes, you want the stone to be blazing hot (this simulates a pizza oven).
4. Sprinkle a piece of parchment paper about the size of your pizza stone lightly with cornmeal and place it on a pizza paddle or on a large cutting board. Set aside.
On a slightly floured work surface, flatten the dough with your hands. Start at the center and work outwards, using your fingers to press and stretch the dough outwards to a 10-12 inch circle. If the dough resists stretching, let it rest for a few minutes, this relaxes the glutens in the flour and makes the dough easier to work with.
Fold dough in half and then in quarters and transfer to prepared parchment paper. Unfold dough and reshape as needed.
5. Spread dough evenly with pesto and then distribute the mozzarella on top. Nestle Italian sausage and slow roasted tomatoes in between the slices of cheese. Let pizza rest for 20-30 minutes before placing in oven.
6. Carefully open oven and slide parchment paper and dough onto the preheated stone. Bake for 5- 7 minutes or until golden brown. Check after 5 minutes and turn pizza if one side is getting too brown.
7. Remove pizza from oven and sprinkle with the gremolata. Cut and enjoy!