A potato salad party.
A pork chop party.
A buttermilk biscuit party.
I would be much happier to attend any of those parties instead of a pizza party. What is it about pizza that automatically makes it into a party? Even ice cream only rates ‘social’ status. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person on the planet who doesn’t adore pizza.
I don’t hate it. Every year or so I get a craving for classic, red-sauced, mozzarella cheesed, crispy-crusted pizza. And if that’s all that’s available to eat, I wouldn’t go hungry. But the thought of a big gooey slice doesn’t move me. And I certainly don’t like it enough to eat bad pizza pie; which believe me, abounds.
I do really like a couple of specifically dressed pies, but Petey insists that they really aren’t pizza.
When the planets align and I’ve shown up on the right day, Whole Foods has a pizza that I love. When it’s on the menu, I cannot leave the store without a slice. In fact, I recently lucked out and it’s what I had for dinner tonight.
It’s carbonara. Done right, spaghetti carbonara is a heavenly experience. The traditional sauce is deceptively simple. Four ingredients: pancetta, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and eggs. It’s much easier to make badly than to do right, then you end up with scrambled eggs, or watery, flavorless despair.
Whole Foods’ pizza uses an Alfredo sauce base, so skips the hazards that the eggs represent. It’s pure, cheesy comfort food.
When I worked on Saturdays for Bosco at his bookstore I would order something to be delivered.
About half of those Saturdays I would order from Amante Pizza. What lured me in is their ginormous selection of toppings. Nine cheeses and thirteen meats. Seven sauces and only one is red, not counting salsa. Too many fruits and veggies to count—they actually have pecans. Pecans on a pizza. Who knew?
That’s the great thing about pizza. Everybody can have their own pizza, and everybody gets to choose their own toppings. But at restaurants each extra topping start at around a dollar, so pizzas for a crowd can get expensive quick.
So what’s a family on a budget supposed to do?
Do it at home. Yes, at home. I know, making crust can be a pain, and take hours.
But, I did some research, and many, many places sell raw pizza dough to take home and tart up yourself. Both white and wheat. Everywhere from Harris Teeter to my old fave, Amante.
And in case you’re a pizza pie apostate like me, here is my very special Amante order to get your own ideas percolating.
½ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4 sprigs rosemary
1 bunch basil, ripped, stems included
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat all ingredients in small saucepan until fragrant. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain.
1 cup mozzarella (fresh cheese in liquid, not bagged and pre-shredded)
1 cup broccoli florets, steamed tender-crisp
2 tablespoons oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
½ small red onion, sliced thinly
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 chicken breast, cut into bite-sized chunks
Put cookie sheet or pizza stone into oven and preheat to 450 for at least 20 minutes. Sauté mushrooms and zucchini until softened in a bit of basil-rosemary oil. Remove veg from skillet and place on paper towel to get rid of moisture, then add chicken to pan. Cook until browned.
Stretch dough to make a 3/4 inch thick, 8-9 inch circle. Brush with oil, then drop dollops of cheese all over it. Scatter on rest of ingredients. Season.
Place pizza onto stone or sheet. Turn oven to low broiler, and cook for 12 minutes. Then turn oven back to 450 and cook 2 minutes more.
Remove from oven and let rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing. Serves one, but that’s the point.
So I guess I do like my own version of pizza. But I still don’t think it deserves a party devoted to it. Just off the top of my head, what if instead we started having bacon parties?
I’ll RSVP that sucker right now.
Thanks for your time.