Today, September 5, is National Cheese Pizza Day — the most wonderful time of the year! According to The Atlantic, “Per capita consumption of cheese is up 41 percent since 1995″ in the U.S., and much of that has to do with our country’s ever-growing love affair with cheesy pizza. The same thing tends to come to mind for anyone who hears the words “cheese pizza” — a measly layer of mozzarella over a classic circle crust. There are some more creative ways, though, to ring in National Cheese Pizza Day at home. Using the right ingredients can turn your run-of-the-mill cheese pizza pie from blah to breathtaking. And what better time is there than today to get serious about your at-home cheese pizza eating? Here are six creative recipes for enjoying cheese pizza at home in your own kitchen.
1. Five-Cheese Pizza
The idea behind this recipe is go big or go home. It packs in five varieties of cheeses: Smoky gouda, mozzarella, fontina, buffalo mozzarella, and shaved romano all top the crust and are baked into a temptingly gooey dinner treat. The addition of tomato and fresh basil will give your dish a crisp, garden-fresh feel — so much better than your standard pizza delivery. This recipe from Food takes 30 minutes to complete and yields four to six servings.
- 1 prepared pizza dough (recipe)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons shredded smoked gouda cheese
- ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup shredded Fontina cheese
- 1 -2 roma tomato, sliced into ⅛ inch rounds
- 3 ounces buffalo mozzarella (or fresh water-packed mozzarella, cut into 24 1-inch pieces)
- ½ cup shaved romano cheese
- 2 tablespoons slivered fresh basil
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush surface of prepared dough with a thin application of olive oil. Evenly distribute the cheese over the oiled surface as follows: smoked gouda, mozzarella, fontina.
Place tomato slices over the cheeses, spaced about 1 inch apart; do not overlap. Top the tomatoes with the pieces of buffalo mozzarella followed by the shaved Romano. Transfer pizza to preheated oven, bake till crust is crisp and golden and center is bubbly, about 15 minutes. Remove pizza from oven, sprinkle with basil. Slice and serve.
2. Cheese Pizza With Cauliflower Crust
Before you’re too put off by the concept of cauliflower in your pizza, consider the fact that this variety of pizza incorporates cheese not only on top of the pie, but also into the crust, giving it a double whammy of flavor. This pizza recipe is a great option for pizza-lovers on a gluten-free diet. This dish from I Food Real yields one 8-inch pizza and takes about an hour to complete. You can keep this pizza refrigerated for up to two days after preparation and can freeze the dish for up to one month if wrapped securely in plastic.
- 1 head cauliflower 7 – 8 inches wide
- 1 egg, large
- ½ cup Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese, grated/shredded
- 1 teaspoon Italian (or rosemary, basil, parsley) herb seasoning
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ cups of your choice cheese
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line round pizza baking sheet with parchment paper.
Rinse cauliflower, remove the outer leaves and separate into florets with a paring knife. Place cauliflower florets in a food processor and process until “rice” texture. Some coarse chunks are fine.
Place on a prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove cooked cauliflower from the oven and transfer to a bowl lined with a double/triple layered cheesecloth. Then squeeze the liquid out of the ball, cauliflower inside the cheesecloth, as hard as you can. Continue squeezing until very little liquid comes out.
Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer cauliflower to a mixing bowl along with egg, cheese, herb seasoning, salt, black pepper and mix to combine. Transfer cauliflower mixture onto the same baking sheet you used to roast the florets (I used the same parchment paper but you can swap it for a new one if it gets too soggy), and flatten with your hands until thin pizza crust forms. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes and remove from the oven. Top with your favorite cheeses and bake again until cheese on top turns golden brown. Slice and enjoy.
3. White Four-Cheese Pizza with Basil and Garlic
This four-cheese rectangle pizza gives cheese center stage – no need to waste any time with sauce. The dish from Epicurious calls for an irresistible blend of mozzarella, goat cheese, ricotta, and Parmesan along with a bit of garlic to top off a prepared dough. For an added burst of fresh flavor, sprinkle sliced basil on top of of the dish. This recipe yields one 13- by 9-inch pizza and takes 45 minutes to complete. The pizza can be made 4 hours ahead of time and reheated in a 350-degree oven.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 prepared pizza dough
- All purpose flour
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices, then coarsely chopped
- 3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- ½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
Directions: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush 13×9-inch metal baking pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and garlic in small bowl.
Roll out pizza dough on lightly floured work surface to 14×10-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to prepared pan; brush lightly with some of garlic oil. Top with mozzarella cheese and goat cheese, leaving ½-inch plain border. Crumble ricotta cheese over, then sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake pizza until crust is golden brown and cheese melts, about 18 minutes. Drizzle remaining garlic-oil over pizza. Let stand 3 minutes. Cut pizza crosswise into eight strips, then cut each strip crosswise into four pieces for thirty-two pieces total. Sprinkle with basil. Transfer to platter and serve hot.
4. Stuffed Cheesy Crust Pizza
Pizza on its own is exceptionally delicious, but perhaps one of the best ways to add a new dimension of awesomeness to a homemade pie is to stuff the crust with…more cheese! Ordering a stuffed crust via takeout or delivery usually tacks on $5-$10 to the price of your pie. Save money and add deliciousness with this recipe from Just a Pinch. Dish takes 2 hours to complete and yields about eight servings.
- ¾ tablespoon yeast
- 1 ½ cup warm water
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ tablespoons garlic, minced or powder
- 1 ½ tablespoons italian seasoning
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (or 6 pieces of string cheese)
- tomato/pizza sauce
- shredded mozzarella
Directions: In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water and allow to set until it begins to foam, about 5 minutes. Stir in salt, oil, and half of flour. Gradually add remaining flour, mixing well. Knead 8 to 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise until double. Punch down and let rise again until double. Punch down and divide. When laying out dough, push it up the sides of a pan about an inch. Spread cheese (or cheese sticks) around edge. Pull dough up and over cheese, gently pressing the dough to the bottom to seal around the cheese. Top with your favorite sauce and cheeses. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
5. French Bread Cheese Pizza
French bread pizza gives your standard pie a bit of a twist, along with a wonderfully crispy texture to complement the gooey, soft cheeses on top. Instead of preparing an entire crust, simply slice lengthwise and crosswise through a crusty loaf of fresh Italian or French bread. This dish from Serious Eats is not only tasty, but it’s also quick, taking 30 minutes to complete. Recipe yields three to four servings. Ingredients:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- pinch red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ cup minced fresh parsley or basil leaves, or a mix
- Kosher salt
- 1 large loaf French or Italian bread, about 18 inches long and 4 inches wide, split half lengthwise and crosswise
- 1 (14½-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 8 ounces freshly grated whole milk mozzarella cheese
- 2 ounces grated Parmigiano-reggiano
Directions: Adjust oven rack to upper position and preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat butter and 3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Add garlic, pepper flakes, and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in half of parsley/basil and a big pinch of salt. Remove from heat. Place bread cut-side-up on a clean work surface. Using a rimmed baking sheet, press down on bread evenly until compressed to about two-thirds its original height. Place bread on top of rimmed baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush half of garlic/butter/oil mixture evenly over cut surfaces of bread, making sure to get plenty of bits of garlic and aromatics. Set aside. Add tomatoes to remaining garlic/butter/oil mixture in pan, stir to combine, increase heat to medium, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to maintain a bare simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rich and reduced, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt. While sauce cooks, spread ¼ of mozzarella evenly over surface of bread and transfer to oven. Cook until cheese is barely melted, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until sauce is cooked. Spread sauce evenly over bread, then spread remaining mozzarella on top of sauce. Transfer to oven and bake until cheese is melted and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano, remaining parsley or basil, and remaining tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Allow to cool slightly and serve.
6. Whole Wheat Cheese Pizza Topped With Arugula Salad
Whole wheat crust is a healthier alternative to white crust, and provides you with more servings of recommended daily whole grain intake. Whole grains also contain a greater amount of dietary fiber, which helps to regulate your metabolism and keeps you feeling fuller, longer. This recipe from Blue Apron recommends that you use a whole wheat base, top with cheese, and drop a handful of arugula salad on top like they do in Italy. Recipe takes about an hour to complete and yields four to six servings. Ingredients:
- 2 ounces black olives
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 red onion
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella
- 1 (14-ounce can) tomato purée
- ¼ cup semolina flour
- 1 pound whole wheat pizza dough (recipe)
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 4 ounces arugula
Directions: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Pit the olives by smashing them with the side of a knife. Peel and thinly slice the garlic. Peel the onion; thinly slice half of it and small dice the other half. Slice the mozzarella cheese. In a medium pot, heat some olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the diced onion and garlic; cook 1 to 2 minutes, or until softened, stirring. Add the tomato puree, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes, or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Evenly dust a large baking sheet with all of the semolina flour. Place the dough on the baking sheet and stretch it to the edges, being careful not to tear the dough. Drizzle a little olive oil over the dough. Spoon a layer of sauce on the dough. Top with the mozzarella, olives, and sliced onion. Season with pepper. Bake the pizza about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the dough is browned and cooked through. While the pizza bakes, in a small bowl, combine the mustard and red wine vinegar. Slowly whisk in some olive oil until it resembles a dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, add the arugula to a large bowl, drizzle it with a little dressing, and toss to coat.
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