Who doesn’t like pizza? From a classic margherita to spicy pepperoni to the much-disputed ham and pineapple, the delicious dish has a special place in our hearts. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be zhuzhed up a little bit. We’ve rounded up the tastiest and most intriguing twists that are currently teasing our taste buds.
When jazzing up pizza, the most exciting place to start is with one of the more indulgent components: cheese. While toying with this ingredient is by no means a new phenomenon — hello Quattro Formaggi — for these purposes, we’ve got our eyes fixed on just one cheese variety: the tangy scamorza.
Connoisseurs of all things Italian, Pasta Evangelists point out that scamorza is closely related to mozzarella, except its curds are broken up more finely, resulting in a lower-moisture cheese. They add: “Scamorza has a slightly firm, chewy texture, making it ideal for melting on pizza.”
When it comes to other toppings to include that can exploit scamorza’s piquancy, start out simple with just some black olives and fresh herbs. If you’ve got the experimental itch, some more inventive and nutritious pairings are celery root or artichoke. Or, for something closer to your favourite pepperoni, try a little spicy ‘nduja to get that extra kick.
For many, the crust is what makes or breaks a pizza. It’s too easy for a base to be bland, and equally irritating when it’s too hard, or not crispy enough. For those who like a little bit of crunch, one variation inspired by Indian cuisine that deserves your attention is a pizza paratha.
For the uninitiated, this desi delight takes the style of bread native to the subcontinent and converts it into a lavish Italian-Indian fusion, with all the saucy, yummy pizza goodness tucked inside a calzone-like shape. Similar to roti — a round, buttery flatbread made from stone-ground whole wheat flour — the paratha is no stranger to a bit of cheesy filling, but this pizza upgrade is next level.
All it takes to make at home is your fair hands and, if possible, a dosa tawa. This is essentially a crêpe pan, so if you already have one that’s a great start. Otherwise, the widest cast-iron or non-stick pan in your kitchen will do. Mix the dough, and once it’s been kneaded and rolled into a flat round base, add your pizza sauce and any filling that takes your fancy, then pop it on the large flat pan, fold over, and serve hot!
Topping: Roast Pumpkin
More and more people are discovering the benefits of pre-roasting vegetables to make nutritious and delicious combinations with rice, salads, cheeses and winter warmers like soup. Still, sticking sweet potato or squash on a pizza seems a little suspicious. Yet truthfully, it would be a shame to underestimate the power of a roast pumpkin pizza.
Though it’s by no means authentic, you can have a lot of fun with this variation — and incorporate plenty more vegetables into it too! This recipe from Hello Little Home suggests using basil pesto instead of a tomato sauce, which, when combined with some zesty feta, no doubt makes for a sharp yet sumptuous pizza.
Sauce: Olive Tapenade
Finally, for those scrolling through this list for a recipe that will bring up their sauce game, look no further than a tapenade pizza base. If you’re an olive fan yet to discover the magic of this condiment, it’s a mixture of all the salty goodness that many pizza-lovers covet, blended from anchovies, black olives and capers.
Tapenade is relatively simple to make if you’ve got a food processor — you can even make a big batch to save to spread on crackers, toast and much more. If you’re short on time, it’s also easily substituted by a store-bought jar of the stuff, pairing delightfully with other Mediterranean goods like feta and red onion.
There’s still room here for a little more indulgence, however: Thursday Night Pizza suggests that, when making this tangy alternative, sprinkle some orange zest and a drizzle of cream atop your sauce and cheese, before whacking it in the oven. If blending the tapenade yourself, another recommendation is that you use kalamata olives. These are known for being meatier and a little more slippery than their green and black counterparts, but are sure to deliver a more novel and fruity sweetness.