Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Calabrese Sausage Pizza with Roasted Red Pepper

Calabrese is a dry, hard Italian sausage made with chopped pork, warm spices, and, often, peppers and garlic. Its spicy, yet savory flavor makes it a perfect companion for smoky roasted bell pepper and creamy, fresh mozzarella.

Note: The sausage comes wrapped in a collagen casing that must be removed. Some brands include a string to pull down, making a slit along the side so that it’s easier to remove. Otherwise, use a small knife to cut off a tip end of the sausage, then run the blade down the length of the casing and peel it away from the meat.

Sausage in Collagen Casing 
Casing Removed
If you can’t find calabrese, substitute a hard salami or pepperoni.

For this pizza, I used the homemade dough recipe at Pizza with Prosciutto, Red Onion, and Fresh Tomatoes, rolling it out to a thinner 14-inch circle instead of a 12 X 11-inch rectangle. If you use a store-bought crust, check the label to see if the oven temperature is different from this recipe.

I love using cast-iron cookware for just about anything, and pizza is no exception. Cast-iron pizza pans are relatively inexpensive and make wonderfully textured crusts—a little crispy on the outside and chewy inside. If you don’t have one, use a regular pizza pan or a double layer of parchment paper for baking the pizza.

Cast-Iron Pizza Pan
Regardless of the crust or pan you choose, using a few, fresh toppings is key to any tasty pie. Yes, you can buy roasted red peppers in a jar, but roasting a fresh pepper in the oven is quick and easy. And much more flavorful.

I didn’t want the pizza to be very “saucy,” so instead of ladling on the tomato sauce, I smeared the dough with about three tablespoons of tomato paste. If you can find double-concentrated Italian tomato paste, go for that—it’s extra rich. Regular tomato paste will work fine too.

For a couple more pizza ideas with different crusts, check out Pancetta Pizza with Olives, Dates, and Leek and Flatbread Pizza Margherita.  

Makes a 14-inch pizza

  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 14-inch pizza crust (or homemade dough)
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • cornmeal, for dusting
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • sea salt 
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, about 20 thin slices (from 2 medium or 1 large ball)
  • 1 6-oz calabrese sausage, very thinly sliced (about 50 slices)
Sliced Calabrese
  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  2. Line a small baking pan with aluminum foil and place the bell pepper in it. Roast, turning several times, until soft and blistered on all sides, 20-25 minutes. Place in a paper bag and close tightly. Let steam 10 minutes.
Pepper Ready to Roast 
Roasted Pepper 
  1. Increase the oven temperature to 450° F. (Check label for store-bought crust.)
  2. Remove the pepper from the bag to a cutting board and peel off the blistered skin. (Use a small paring knife, if needed.) Cut the pepper in half and remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into thin, short strips.
Pepper after Steaming
Peeled Roasted Pepper 
Sliced Pepper
  1. Dust a cast-iron pizza pan with cornmeal. Lay the dough on the pan and brush generously with olive oil. Use the back of a spoon to spread the tomato paste over the dough. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano.
Oil-Brushed Dough 
Tomato Paste and Seasoning
  1. Divide the mozzarella slices on top, and divide the sausage slices on top of the cheese. Scatter the pepper strips on top.
  2. Bake the pizza until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is slightly crisp, about 10 minutes.
Cheese Added 
Calabrese Added 
Roasted Bell Pepper Added 
Baked Pizza
Remove to a cutting board and cut into serving pieces. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Calabrese Sausage Pizza with Roasted Red Pepper

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