Brussels Sprouts Pizza with Ricotta and Calabrian Chili Oil Recipe
I remember that fateful day at a newly opened Motorino Pizza in Brooklyn when my family decided to order the much talked about brussels sprout pie. At the time, I wasn't much of a sprouts eater and it was probably wasn't even at my suggestion that we ordered one for the table, but I'm not sure anyone was expecting how incredible that pizza was going to be. With delicate brussels sprouts leaves that gained a nice char in the coal-fired oven, it was immediately the best topping we never knew we wanted on a pizza. Since then, brussels sprouts have spread to pizzerias all across the country and beyond, coming in various different ways from whole to shaved and everything in between, but it's still that first incarnation I experienced that I love the most and decided to do at home during a recent pizza making session.
This is not a copycat Motorino recipe, but rather one that brings together a few of my favorite toppers into a pie I'm not sure I've had or seen anywhere, although it doesn't tread very far from standards either. I started it off with the Neapolitan dough recipe from Kenji that's I've been using pretty exclusively for years. It's not only one tasty dough, it's also the easiest one I make since it's pretty much no knead. To start, you just mix all the ingredients until completely combined, then cover and let the first fermentation and rise happen at room temperature for eight to twelve hours.
Then the dough is divided into four equal pieces and put into a large container, or individual ones, and set in the fridge for the second fermentation of two to four days. A lot of the tangy flavor in the dough is developed during this stage and I've found the longer the rise, the more flavorful the final dough will be, so I try to go for the full four days as long as I know that far in advance I'll be making pizzas.
Beyond the brussels sprouts and mozzerella, I chose to add just two additional toppings, one of those being Calabrian chili oil. My wife and I are both big fans of adding a fruity and spicy touch to our pizzas with chili oil, so it's a common thread you'll see in a lot of my pizza recipes. It's helpful too that it's super easy to make—just simmer some chopped Calabrian chilies in oil, steep, and strain—and one batch lasts us awhile, making it something we just have on hand whenever we feel like using it.
The second addition was ricotta cheese, which I decided to go in a little different direction than I've done in the past. I like adding dollops of ricotta prior to baking normally, but this time I went with a post firing application and also seasoned it with some lemon juice and parmesan, adding a brightness and sharpness to the otherwise mellow flavor of the ricotta. After combining those together, I transferred the mixture to a squeeze bottle, but if that's not something you have in your kitchen, dollops using a spoon will work fine too.
Finally we have the brussels sprouts, for which I only needed loose leaves to use as the topping. Since I usually discard a lot of loose leaves just trimming a batch of brussels anyway, I merely saved those. I actually had so many that I was able to select the best looking ones and still have a fair amount of scraps that ended up being trashed. The leaves I did keep I washed, dried, and then tossed lightly with extra-virgin olive oil before placing them atop the pizza.
Two hours prior to cooking, I had removed the dough from the fridge, and about an hour before cooking, I began lighting the charcoal and heating up the KettlePizza so it would be at maximum temperature once the pizzas were all shaped and topped. This pie looked pretty bare before going into the oven with merely some torn mozzerella and brussels sprouts leaves adorning the dough.
It only took a few minutes to cook it in KettlePizza, which was running just north of 900°F at the time. The pie began to look much more attractive during that quick cook with the leaves getting a nice char around the edges and the dough picking up a healthy golden brown crust, Then, following squeezing on the ricotta and drizzling with the chili oil, I thought I had a pretty good looking pizza on my hands that I couldn't wait to try it.
The light had shifted in a way that made it hard for me to get a decent shot, and instead of busting out a diffuser, I just let the less than ideal photos go and dug in. After all these years of eating brussels sprouts pizzas, I can say I still have not tired of them. The way the leaves cook in the hot oven, they deliver a full range of textures and flavors from crispy to tender, bitter to sweet, and charred to fresh. It's a lot in a small package, but it also has a mellow touch, which allowed the chili oil to come through along with the citrusy brightness of the seasoned ricotta. As pizzas go, this one is definitely on the lighter side and I can see each person really needing their own pie—I always write four servings for my pizza recipes, but sometimes you could push that to six or eight depending on the heartiness and heft of the toppings. This pizza also comes with the added bonus that you'll have a entire batch of whole brussels sprouts left to make a side dish with, and I have a lot of ideas for those from mustard laden to bacon paired to kimchi seasoned.
Brussels Sprouts Pizza with Ricotta and Calabrian Chili Oil Recipe
- Yield 4 servings
- Prep 30 Minutes
- Inactive 2 Days 8 Hours
- Cook 3 Minutes
- Total 2 Days 8 Hours 33 Minutes
- For the Dough
- 20 ounces bread flour, preferably Italian-style "OO" (about 4 cups)
- .4 ounces kosher salt (about 4 teaspoons)
- .3 ounces instant yeast (about 2 teaspoons)
- 13 ounces water
- For the Lemon-Ricotta Mixture
- 2/3 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- 1 ounce grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1/3 cup)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon
- For the Chili Oil
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped drained oil-packed Calabrian chiles
- For the Pizzas
- Loose leaves from trimming 2lbs of brussels sprouts, washed and dried
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated
- 1.5 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1/2 cup)
- To make the dough: Combine flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl and whisk until homogenous. Add water and incorporate into flour using hands until no dry flour remains on bottom of bowl. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and divide into four even balls. Place each in a covered quart-sized deli container or in a zipper-lock freezer bag. Place in refrigerator and allow to rise at least 2 more days, and up to 4.
- To make the lemon-ricotta mixture: In a small bowl, mix together ricotta, parmesan, and lemon juice. Transfer mixture to a squeeze bottle and place in refrigerator until ready to use.
- To make the chili oil: Place chiles and oil in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Continue to heat until oil begins to bubble around chiles. Remove from heat and let sit until cooled. Transfer to an airtight container, straining through a fine mesh strainer, if desired, and set aside until ready to use.
- To make the pizzas: 2 hours prior to cooking, remove dough from refrigerator, shape into balls, and allow to rest at room temperature, covered, for at least 2 hours before baking. Heat KettlePizza or pizza oven to 950°F. Alternatively, set a baking stone or Baking Steel on upper middle rack in oven and heat on highest setting possible for 45 minutes. Place brussels sprouts leaves in a medium bowl, add in olive oil, and toss to coat. Stretch one piece of dough into a 12-inch round. Spread on a layer of mozzarella and roughly 1/4 of the brussels sprouts leaves. Place pizza in pizza oven and cook for 2-3 minutes, rotating pizza for even cooking as necessary. Alternatively, place pizza on baking stone or steel in heated oven and cook until crust is baked through and cheese is melted, 7-10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle on parmesan cheese, squeeze on lemon-ricotta mixture, and drizzle with chili oil. Slice and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining dough and ingredients.