If you are in Italy you will find pizza quattro stagioni everywhere, and I highly suggest you eat as much as you can. The name “Quattro Stagioni” translates to the “Four Seasons” and the pizza is divided into fourths with a different topping for each season. Since Spring has sprung in Dallas, I am ready to celebrate with pizza (especially since I don’t have Spring Break).
My last post was the recipe for pizza dough, so here’s part two: the sauce. If you thought making your own dough made a difference in the taste, you will not believe how much better home-made sauce is than buying it in a can. Of course not all pizzas have tomato sauce as my roommates and I quickly learned when we studied in Italy. Our first weekend abroad we traveled to Rome and as soon as we arrived we stopped at a pizzeria for dinner. I won’t mention any names but somebody (ahem, Molly) unsuspectingly ordered a pizza that came back with no tomato sauce. We were all bewildered by this, so we asked the waiter to bring some sauce for the pizza. Undoubtedly he went back to the kitchen snickering about “gli Americani stupidi,” and he came back with a bowl of tomato soup. Lesson learned.
Tomato Sauce, adapted from Wolfgang Puck’s recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 lbs (two 28 ounce cans) whole tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 3 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup basil, chiffonade
- Salt & pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan and add the onion. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Next add the tomatoes and tomato paste and heat for 5 minutes. Slowly pour in the chicken broth. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. Transfer half of the sauce to a blender and puree. Repeat with the second half and pour the sauce back into the saucepan. Reheat and whisk in butter, piece by piece. Add basil and season with salt and pepper. This will make more than you need for a single pizza, but freeze the sauce and reuse for pizza or pasta!
Now that you have the dough and sauce, all that is left to do is put the pizza together. I made the classic quattro stagioni with mushrooms, artichoke hearts, olives, and prosciutto, but if you’re not crazy about one of the ingredients just substitute anything you like. Even though nothing will ever taste as good as a pizza from Pizzaiuolo, this comes pretty darn close – and you can do it all yourself! Molto bene!
Pizza Quattro Stagioni, serves 2
- 1 ball of pizza dough
- Extra all purpose flour and corn meal
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup of tomato sauce, recipe above
- 2 fresh balls of mozzarella, sliced
- Handful of button mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 cup of quartered artichoke hearts
- 1/4 cup mixed olives, pitted and chopped
- 4 slices of prosciutto, cut into julienne
- 4 basil leaves
- Grated Parmesan & chili flakes (optional)
Preheat oven (with a pizza stone if you have one) to 500 degrees. In a small pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute the mushrooms until tender. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Prepare the other toppings and set aside. On a floured counter top, stretch the dough thin to about 10 to 12 inches with a rolling pin. If you have a pizza stone, sprinkle some corn meal on the stone quickly before transferring the dough. If you do not have a pizza stone, place the dough on a large baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil on top of the dough and add a pinch of salt. Blind bake the dough for 2-3 minutes. Carefully take the pizza out of the oven and spread the tomato sauce on top. Place the mozzarella slices all over, and add each topping in a separate quarter of the pizza. Bake for 5-7 minutes. I turned on the broiler for a minute towards the end to give the cheese & crust that golden brown finish. Garnish with basil and serve with grated Parmesan and chili flakes.