Several years ago, before Dustin and I moved to San Diego…
Before we had Jordan…
Before I even knew what a blog was…
Before I really discovered my passion for cooking — and love — and happiness — and family — and passion…
Dustin and I watched the Food Network. Wow, did we actually watch television? Seems so foreign now. We watched Mario Batali, Giada de Laurentiis, Ina Garten and Alton Brown.
Then, one day, we heard about Mario Batalli’s new restaurant in Los Angeles called Pizzeria Mozza. And we knew we had to go.
Looking back, I can see the new “me” emerging from little moments like these, though I didn’t know it at the time. All in good time, I suppose.
When we got to the restaurant and had our horribly dirty, needing a wash desperately car valeted, we were very excited to have dinner. The atmosphere in the restaurant was perfect. There was a huge beautiful wine bar, long tables and just an over-all good feeling in the place.
We ordered several appetizers, entrees and desserts (some of which were completely in Italian and we weren’t exactly sure what they’d turn out to be), as we knew we wanted the full experience and didn’t know when we’d be back.
One of the pizzas we tried had sausage and fennel and some other fresh and delicious ingredients. To this day, neither Dustin nor I can remember exactly what else was on that pizza or completely how it tasted, we just knew we enjoyed it and we wanted to make it at home. It was so unique and different.
Finally, I made it. My own way. And it was pretty darn good.
As some of you know, I have aspirations to start a little pizza and wine bar of my own in Austin someday. And, yes, this pizza will be on the menu in my restaurant.
Roasted Fennel and Italian Sausage Pizza with Garlic White Sauce
For the Garlic White Sauce:
(yields enough to cover 1-2 medium pizzas)
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup parmesan, shredded
In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add flour and stir completely to make a roux. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Whisk in milk slowly and cook until thickened to desired consistency. Add cheese and stir to melt. Season with salt and pepper, adding more to taste if necessary.
For the Roasted Fennel and Italian Sausage Pizza:
(yields 1 medium pizza, about 8-10 slices)
I pizza crust (might I suggest my Honey Whole Wheat Pizza Dough?)
1/2 cup Garlic White Sauce, prepared (see recipe above)
1/4 cup fennel, thinly sliced
2 links good quality Italian sausage
6 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread out sliced fennel evenly over sheet. Season with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Roast fennel in oven for 10-13 minutes, or until it starts to turn golden.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add Italian sausage. Break apart into small pieces. Stirring frequently, cook sausage until well-browned and crumbled.
Once fennel is roasted, remove from oven and set aside. Turn heat in oven up to 500 degrees.
Top prepared pizza crust with Garlic White Sauce, then roasted fennel, then crumbled Italian sausage, then mozzarella. Bake 5-10 minutes, or until edges are golden and cheese is bubbly.