When you have a really busy day or work day and you find yourself facing starting dinner at 7:30 p.m., what do you do? Well, you can go out for dinner—and sometimes that’s the best way to decompress from your day. Or you can make what you’d planned to make and eat at about 9:30 or 10 p.m. But, if you have some pre-made pizza dough or crust in your fridge or freezer, a delicious pizza can be only a few short minutes away. I love making pizza, either planned in advance or as a quick go-to because, much like a frittata, it is a great way to use and enjoy leftover meats and veggies in your fridge.
The pizza I’m going to show you today, however, happens to be one that is far from using leftovers, because this little pizza features the most amazing bolognese sauce I’ve ever tasted. And why wouldn’t it be? After all it’s a family recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Chicago John of the Bartolini Kitchens, and I really encourage you to click on his Sugo alla Bolognese to see how to make it for yourself. John’s instructions are easy and thorough, so I will just show you the three stages of my sauce below, the beginning meat and veg, the middle simmer and the decadent and rich finished sauce. It’s a relaxing process, one during which I felt almost like I had John and Zia in the kitchen with me looking over my shoulder, and the result is SO worth the time. Making this sugo has completely changed my ideas about how a truly great pasta sauce really deserves a homemade pasta to go with it. So now I’m looking forward to trying John’s method for different homemade pastas and breaking in my new pasta machine…stay tuned.
Meanwhile, back to how this sauce and the pizza came together. I made this fabulous bolognese for the first time last weekend and we enjoyed it so much that it was hard not to just eat it straight out of the pot when it was done! After we feasted on this sugo with purchased pasta, I froze some for later (hopefully to go with my own homemade pasta) and I also put about a cup or two of it in the fridge to have ready for a quick lunch or dinner when I needed it. Then I started thinking about all the dishes I’d ever tasted that involved Bolognese sauce, and how inferior they were to the real deal. Most recently, I’d had a pizza “Bolognese” from a local pizzeria, which was nothing of the sort since it didn’t actually have a meat sauce on it. That’s when it hit me. I could stretch out my cup of sauce by trying it on a pizza. (John, I hope this doesn’t make you cringe.) And it was truly transformative! Even using a pre-made crust on a busy night, it tasted better than you could possibly imagine…unless you’ve made this bolognese sauce yourself.
So here’s my version of a Pizza Bolognese, and I hope you will try it by making some of John’s Bolognese. It really ticks all the little comfort food boxes for me. From now on, whenever I make Sugo alla Bolognese, there will be a portion assigned to a pizza, too!
Makes 6 slices
1 – 12-inch ready to use pizza crust
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup of Chicago John’s Sugo alla Bolognese, warmed, (or in a pinch, you can use a high quality purchased bolognese meat sauce, or a marinara with your own cooked and crumbled Italian sausage added to it, which will be good, but not Pizza Bolognese!)
6 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and small diced
1/3 to 1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
4 oz. white button mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
4 oz. buffalo mozzarella cut into small pieces, about 3/4 – 1 inch in size
A fresh grating of fresh parmigiano reggiano (optional)
Garnish: A sprinkling of fresh arugula leaves (optional)
Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F with your pizza stone in the center of the oven, or if you’re using a cookie sheet or pizza pan, place your rack in the center of the oven.
Place your prepared crust on a pizza peel sprinkled with a little cornmeal, or directly on the cookie sheet or pizza pan, if using that. Sprinkle the olive oil onto the crust and rub it around the edges with your hands and over the surface, distributing as evenly as possible. Next, spread your Sugo alla Bolognese sauce evenly over the pizza. I like to spoon mine out in quadrants, then spread it. Sprinkle the sun-dried tomatoes evenly over the sauce, then the red onion slices, then the mushrooms. Top the pizza with the mozzarella, spacing it evenly across the surface. Grate some parmigiano reggiano over the top of the pizza, if you like, it is terrific with and without.
Place the pizza onto the hot stone (I usually sprinkle a little more cornmeal on the hot stone before I place the pizza on it to bake), or place your cookie sheet or a pizza pan with the pizza into the oven. Bake the pizza for 10-12 minutes, until the cheese has browned but not burned and the crust is a golden brown, too. Remove the pizza from the oven (with the peel if you’re using one), and slide it onto a cutting surface. Cut into 6 slices and serve.
Note: If you like a little salad on your pizza, you can sprinkle the top with a few leaves of peppery fresh arugula…again it’s nice with, or without!
And on another note: Tomorrow we actually start work on replacing the chimney…two weeks after I said it would begin. All should go fast now, relatively speaking, which means about 4-5 weeks of work and contractors coming and going. Fortunately we have our kitty kids to help us put this in perspective!