Non-traditional sauces offer some flavor surprises
Perhaps the greatest benefit to owning a pizzeria is the ability to create specialty pizzas that offer your diners something beyond red sauce and pepperoni or sausage. There are a certain number of folks who won’t stray beyond the tried and true, but offering daily or weekly specials with non-traditional sauces is a great way to get them to break out of their comfort zone.
Spinach Artichoke Sauce
This recipe starts with a classic spinach and artichoke dip that makes a great appetizer offering. Thin it down with a little half and half or milk, and you’ve got an awesome base for a pizza.
To build the pizza in our photo, I paired this sauce with chopped thick-cut bacon, cubed chicken seasoned with olive oil, rosemary, garlic and roasted cherry tomatoes. Use a mild cheese like traditional shredded mozzarella since the sauce already has grated Parmesan and cream cheese, and you don’t want to overpower it.
Sun-dried Tomato Pesto
Remember that pesto goes a long way – if you want to thin it out, add a bit of water or olive oil for a wetter sauce.
This recipe can be altered to create a green olive pesto by replacing the sun-dried tomatoes with 1 cup of sliced green olives that have been rinsed.
We paired this easy sauce with sliced Italian sausage, fresh baby bella mushrooms and chopped green peppers. Use a mozzarella with this one, but a liberal dose of Pecorino-Romano after baking will add a rich flavor that pairs well with the pesto.
Mango Chutney Sauce
This one is a little time consuming, and you may find it faster and easier to buy pre-made, especially if you’re not using it across multiple applications on your menu. Still, give this recipe a go. It makes about three 8-ounce jars.
We paired our chutney with sliced white meat chicken breast, diced prosciutto, smoked mozzarella and jalapeños. Since the chutney has a bit of heat, you can make your pizza less or more spicy depending on how many jalapeños you use in the sauce.
We’ve said time and time again that you should be making at least one or two of your own salad dressings. Not only are they used on your salads, but they can also be used as dipping sauces and even pizza bases.
Our office’s favorite pizza is a Buffalo chicken pizza that uses this ranch dressing recipe from Chef Jeff Freehof (see his story on side dishes on page 54). I toss shredded chicken in Buffalo sauce, use ranch as a base sauce and top the pizza with sliced red onions, banana peppers and bacon. A light drizzle of ranch after baking mellows the heat a bit.
Chef Jeff’s recipe is made in bulk and can be stored in large jars or portioned into smaller cups for delivery.
We used the ranch dressing base with ground Italian sausage, diced yellow and red bell peppers, tomatoes and sweet hot piquante peppers. This one was topped with mozzarella and smoked Gouda.
Mandy Wolf Detwiler is managing editor at Pizza Today.