Making your own pizza is fun. It beats delivery, and there's no wait! Feel free to substitute anything you like for the peppers and onions. Mushrooms are great with sausage, as are spinach or roasted tomatoes.
Most pizzerias use Italian sausage, which is available everywhere and can be found in hot, sweet, or mild varieties. Sausage is usually made with ground pork and flavored with fennel, garlic, and red pepper, or sweet basil. It is also frequently made with chicken, and there are even vegetarian brands available.
Prepared pizza dough is available in most supermarkets. Offered in white, whole wheat, and sometimes with herbs, it usually comes in one-pound balls, either refrigerated or frozen. It's very convenient, and it makes excellent pizza.
- 8 ounces Italian sausage (loose; mild, sweet, or spicy)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound pizza dough (store-bought or homemade)
- 3/4 cup pizza sauce (homemade or store-bought)
- 6 ounces mozzarella cheese (low-moisture part-skim, shredded)
- 1 small red bell pepper (sliced into rings)
- 1/3 cup red onion (thinly sliced into half-rings)
- Garnish: fresh basil leaves
Gather the ingredients.
Preheat your oven as high as it will go, 500 to 550 F if possible. If you have a pizza stone, steel, or cast iron pan, preheat it as well.
Add the olive oil to a skillet on the stovetop over medium heat. Brown the Italian sausage breaking it into small pieces as you saute it. When the sausage is brown on all sides, remove from heat and set aside.
Lightly flour a work surface and the ball of pizza dough. Flour your hands and gently stretch the dough into a circle measuring approximately 14 to 16 inches in diameter. Place the dough onto a floured peel (if using a stone, steel, or cast iron) or onto a sheet pan.
Spread the sauce over the surface of the dough, followed by the mozzarella, bell pepper rings, red onion, and sausage. Reserve the basil for garnish after the pizza is baked.
Put the pizza in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes, or until the crust is browned, the cheese is melted, and the toppings sizzle.
Remove to a cutting board, garnish with the fresh basil leaves, slice, and serve immediately.
- Your pizza will turn out better if you avoid tearing the dough, but store-bought dough tends to cling to the bag. The best way to get the dough out, without tearing or stretching it excessively, is to use scissors or a small sharp knife to cut the plastic bag down the sides as far as you can in several places, then slowly and carefully separate the dough from the plastic with your fingertips. Pretty soon, the dough will be free of the plastic, and ready to be stretched for your pizza crust.
- Italian sausage can be purchased cased or loose. Whether you use cased sausage or loose, you should cook your sausage before putting it on your pizza. With veggie versions, this usually isn't necessary, but meat sausages need to be thoroughly cooked before consumption.