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Caramelized Onion, Sage & Sausage Pizza

January 13, 2011

It’s no secret that I love pizza. Maybe a little too much. When I was younger, I used to think that pizza was the pinnacle of food. I mean, it’s got all the basic food groups, right? Bread, veggies, cheese, and (sometimes) meat too. Oh, and tomato is a fruit, so it’s even got fruit too, people. Pizza’s literally hitting every step of that old food pyramid from elementary school. And each slice is even shaped like a little pyramid. Coincidence? I think not. Pizza’s pretty much the perfect food.

Ok. I’ve clearly given pizza’s virtues way too much thought. Like I said: I love pizza, a little (or a lot) too much.

But while I love pizza, my tastes have matured somewhat from the pepperoni pizza days of my youth. I love to make (and eat) pizza with fresh, seasonal ingredients, keeping it light and simple (i.e., not loaded down with cheese), but still flavorful. And, as my palate’s matured, I’ve come to accept that—maybe, just maybe—pizza’s not the pinnacle of food. Well, not always, at least.

This particular pizza is one of my favorite’s to make at home, on a weeknight when I’m in need of something comforting and just plain delicious. The sweetness of the caramelized onions plays oh-so-delectably off the mild spiciness of the sausage and acidity of the balsamic vinegar. And the freshness of the sage brings the whole thing together. Enjoy with a side salad of leafy greens, and glass of sangiovese (to unwind after a long day of work). Did I mention that pizza’s pretty much the perfect food?


Adapted from Williams Sonoma

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1/4 lb. spicy Italian sausage, casings removed (or just buy the sausage in bulk, without the casings)
1 cup grated mozzarella
1 large red onion
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

1 recipe of Patrick’s Super Simple Pizza Dough

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Thinly slice the red onion. In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat a couple splashes of olive oil. Add the onion, along with a little salt and pepper. Cook (stirring occasionally) for about 7 minutes, until the onion is translucent and just beginning to turn golden. Reduce the heat to low, and cook (stirring occasionally) until the onions are a deep golden color and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar to the pan, and stir to combine with the onions. Cook over low heat for 1-2 minutes, until the onions absorb the liquid and the vinegar thickens slightly. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

Use your hands to stretch out your pizza dough. I find that it’s best to drape the dough over your hands, and use your fists (move them around in a slow circle) to stretch the dough (gently!) into a big pizza pie. Gravity does half of the work here. Another method that works well is holding the edge of the dough round—like a steering wheel—and turn it round slowly to stretch it out. Again, gravity does half of the work here. Go with whatever method you find works best for you. Just remember to be gentle, and to take your time stretching out the dough (don’t rush it, or you might end up tearing the dough).

Lay your dough out on a pizza stone, pizza crisper, or sheet pan (whatever you’ve got—I use a pizza crisper pan). Brush or spritz lightly with olive oil. Scatter the caramelized onion all over the dough. Top with 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, and then the grated mozzarella. Crumble the sausage (into small, bite-sized pieces) all over the pizza. Finally, top with the remaining sage, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.

Bake for about 7-10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling, and the dough is blistered. Slice, eat, and enjoy with a side salad of leafy greens.

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