Topping it off

Think of pizza crust as a blank canvas, then build your masterpiece.

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Finished pizza topped with chopped arugula and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. —Connie Berry

The great thing about pizza is that you can make it into anything you want. We’ve expanded the possibilities over the past couple of decades to the point where sometimes I can’t even tell if it’s still pizza. The crust can be gluten-free, made from cauliflower or whole wheat or pretty much anything that works as a surface to pile toppings onto; I once found a recipe for pizza “dough” using shredded zucchini, eggs, and Parmesan cheese. It tasted almost as good as the toppings.

I can’t think of one person I know who doesn’t like pizza in some form. When my kids were younger, I relied on takeout pizza once a week. I seem to have more time nowadays — or maybe just a better imagination — because the pizza I like best is the kind I make myself.

Apparently I’m not alone, because Wikipedia says, “In the 6th century BC, the soldiers in the armies of the ancient Persian King Darius I baked flatbreads with cheese and dates on top of their battle shields.” It also says that pizza became more popular in the U.S. when the Allied Forces during World War II tried it in Italy, where it was made with tomatoes, olive oil, and cheese. I think a good bucket-list item is a slice from a pizzeria in Naples. And maybe some gelato from Florence.

Back to the here and now. This weekend I only had my son to cook for, so we stretched this Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Pizza into two meals. We gathered our ingredients from the grocery store, including a gluten-free pizza shell, some fresh garlic, goat cheese, and arugula. I already had plenty of onions in the cupboard. ( I’m pretty certain every single meal I prepare includes onions and garlic.) I also made a balsamic reduction to drizzle on top of the finished pizza.

Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Pizza

I like to brush a thin layer of olive oil infused with garlic as a base, but you don’t have to do this; the pizza tastes fine without it as well.

¼ stick of butter
2 large onions, cut into thin slices
5-6 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
Pizza crust, premade or homemade
One bunch arugula, chopped

Preheat the oven to 425°. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the sliced onions and a little salt and pepper. Cook the onions over medium heat until they turn brownish and soft (caramelize), about 15 minutes.

Crumble goat cheese over the top of the pizza crust, top with cooked onions. Bake for 10-15 minutes, keeping watch so it doesn’t burn.

While pizza is baking, you can make a balsamic reduction by combining ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar with a teaspoon of brown sugar and letting it reduce over medium heat for about 8 to 10 minutes, until it thickens and becomes like a glaze.

When pizza is done, take it out of the oven and top with chopped arugula; drizzle the balsamic reduction over the top. Slice into 6 to 8 pieces and enjoy.