Today we are learning new foods. The rest of the blogosphere is discussing what to make for Christmas dinner, what to wear on New Year’s Eve, and what to resolute on January 1st. We, however, are committed to non-holiday things, like kitchen education. Specifically the education on fennel and fronds, particularly as they relate to Roasted Fennel, Italian Sausage, and Ricotta Pizza.
(This is mostly because I am busy this holiday season. Just like the rest of the world. I’d like to be posting on posting on posting on the blog a la 12 Days of Christmas Cookies, but who has the time? Seriously – WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE TIME? (I might be one of these people soon. There are special, secret things still in the happening phase. More to come.))
And, actually, we could file this under Holiday Season because pizza is perfect when everyone’s home and hungry and in a hurry. Especially pizza made quickly with Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough and Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage. [Although, not to fear — if you don’t have a TJ’s around, we can still make this recipe work!]
And back to fronds. Isn’t that so fun to say? Frooooond. Do you know what a frond is? Neither did I. I used to call it “that leafy stuff on the fennel.” Actually, I never called it that because until last week, I had never bought fennel and didn’t know it had leafy stuff. Nevertheless, the frooooond is that dainty greenery you see prettifying my pizza.
Fennel is a root vegetable related to the carrot. It is crunchy like jicama and has a distinct taste like anise. But better. Better than carrots, better than jicama, better than anise. Cause it’s a pizza topper (today, at least). Now… I know you’re on the fence ’cause I mentioned anise (anise flavor is similar to liquorice flavor), but you guys — I need you to understand — It’s just the hint of liquorice, like that small hint you get when you eat an Italian sausage. If it’s a good Italian sausage, you taste the sage and the fennel. Uhhhh huhhhhhh. Eeermmmyeeahhhh. And you want to eat all the Italian sausage in the world.
That’s fennel. Fennel is the flavor that makes you want to do crazy Italian sausage eating.
And it’s the flavor that makes you want to do crazy Roasted Fennel, Italian Sausage, and Ricotta Pizza eating. Plus the garlic and the olive-y oil and caramelized red onion, soft and creamy ricotta cheese, chewy crust, slightly spicy sausage. Yeah, let’s do all the Roasted Fennel Pizza Eating right now and then never look back!
Roasted Fennel, Italian Sausage, and Ricotta Pizza
Pizza is perfect when everyone's home and hungry and in a hurry. Use a pre-made dough and throw together Roasted Fennel, Italian Sausage, and Ricotta Pizza.
- 2 medium fennel bulbs
- 1 small red onion sliced
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil I used Benissimo Roasted Garlic Olive Oil, divided
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 Italian sausages*
- Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Pizza Dough**
- 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare fennel by removing fronds (the fluffy greenery); reserve for garnish. Thinly slice the fennel as you would a carrot. Toss the fennel, onion, and garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper. Place on a baking sheet and cook 15-20 minutes until fennel and onion is "al dente," tossing about halfway through to ensure even cooking. Once you remove your vegetables, place a baking sheet or pizza stone in the oven to get hot.
Meanwhile, remove the casing from your sausage and cut into slices.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out your pizza dough. Brush the dough with the remaining olive oil. Spread the fennel and onion evenly across the pizza. Top with prepared sausage and dollops of ricotta cheese. Transfer uncooked pizza to your hot baking sheet or pizza stone and place in the oven. Bake at 400 degrees F about 10-12 minutes or until crust is deep brown (for whole wheat) and puffy.
*I used pre-cooked Italian Chicken Sausage. You can use any kind of Italian sausage. If it's uncooked, remove the casings and brown in a skillet over medium-high heat, while breaking it into pieces with a wooden spatula.
**You can also use any store-bought dough or crust. Just following preparation and baking instructions on the package.
I don’t know if I’ve ever used fennel before, but I’ll have to try it.