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Pizza for One

La Petite Maison Verte: Pizza for One

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pizza for One

Who doesn't love pizza?  Oh fine, I'm sure there are some weirdos out there that don't love the tangy tomato sauce, the gooey cheese, the crispy crust, the endless toppings.  Well, this blog post is not for those people.

This post is for people who love the taste of pizza but don't always want the heaviness of a great big piece of it.  Don't get me wrong, sometimes there's nothing better than a slice of thin crust pizza with all the toppings!  Brian and I make our own homemade pizza crust and really love grilling our pizzas or baking them in a super-hot oven on a baking stone - there's really very few more satisfying meals than homemade pizza and a big salad.  But I'm just speaking for myself when I say that usually after a slice (or two) I have to find a soft couch somewhere to pass out.  My body can't handle the influx of all those carbs without my eyelids getting heavy, I start to yawn and my ability to focus just goes right out the window.  This might not be a big deal if you don't have plans after the meal but it isn't a great situation if you have to go back to work after lunch or you planned on watching a movie after dinner.  

Another problem I have with pizza is it's size.  Especially when it's just me at home by myself as I have been for the better part of the last month while my husband is overseas.  Sure I could just refrigerate the leftovers and reheat them the next day but a) I don't really like leftovers unless I can reinvent them somehow and b) it never tastes nearly as good reheated!  By all means, if you have come up with a good way to "upcycle" pizza-leftovers let me know!!  Leftover pizza casserole?  Pizza tacos??  Anyone?  Bueller?  

Enter the Portobello Pizza for One!  You can probably discern from the name that you pretty much HAVE to like (or at least be indifferent to) mushrooms  in order to enjoy this pizza.  It replaces a pizza crust with a portobello mushroom and then you top your pizza however you like.  Some of my favorite topping combinations are:  

*Homemade tomato sauce, cooked spicy Italian sausage, sliced black olives, sauteed red bell peppers, fresh mozzarella cheese and sliced basil leaves

*Thinly sliced apple, chopped fresh sage, Fontina cheese

*Prepared pesto, sundried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced basil

Some things to know before you try this:  Don't expect the mushroom to taste like a pizza crust.  It does not.  It will not get crispy at all, so if you really need something with a satisfying crunch this won't do it for ya!  There are plenty of other single-serving pizza crust substitutes you could try instead (english muffin, tortilla, won-ton wrapper, etc.) if you want something crispy.  The mushroom will be firm but moist and have a deep mushroom-y flavor (ha!  for lack of a better descriptor).  Also, I recommend cooking your toppings before putting them on top of the mushroom base.  Any meat toppings like sausage or chicken should be fully cooked all the way through before the mushroom pizza goes into the oven.  The same goes for veggie toppings, unless you are OK with them tasting a little "raw."  A light saute is all it takes to get them ready, or better yet use up some leftover cooked vegetables from last night's dinner (see what I mean about "upcycling" leftovers?!!)

Portobello Mushroom "Pizza" for One
serves 1
Adapted from Cooking Illustrated, as found on The Calorie Conscious Gourmet

1 or 2 Portobello mushroom caps (depending how hungry you are)
olive oil
salt & pepper
prepared sauce (homemade marinara sauce or store-bought tomato sauce, or see suggestion above) - about 2 tablespoons per mushroom
1/2 to 1 oz mozzarella cheese per mushroom, shredded
pizza toppings:  1-2 tablespoons red bell pepper, 1 tablespoon cooked italian sausage crumbles, 1/2 tablespoon black olives - or whatever you like, no more than 1/4 cup toppings per mushroom
fresh herbs, for serving

Place a rimmed baking sheet into the oven and heat oven to 400.

Meanwhile prepare mushroom(s):  gently wipe cap with a clean damp paper towel, remove the stem, and  cut 1/4 inch deep slits into the non-gill side of the mushroom, spaced about 1/2 inch apart (this will help some of the moisture drain out of the mushroom during cooking so you don't end up with a soggy pizza).

Lightly brush non-gill side of mushroom with olive and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place oiled side down (gill side up) onto pre-heated baking sheet and return sheet to oven, roast for 10 minutes, then flip over and roast for another 10 minutes.

Carefully remove mushroom from baking sheet, drain off any moisture that has accumulated and return mushroom to pan, gill side up.  Top mushroom with sauce, cheese and toppings (except any fresh herbs, leave those off at this time).

Return the baking sheet with the mushroom pizza back to the oven and bake another 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbling.  You may also broil the pizza for 1-2 minutes at the end to brown the cheese.  Remove from oven and top with fresh herbs.

Eat with a knife and fork.    

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