Versatile, comforting, and perfect for delivery, pizza has proven to be pandemic proof. Let a little sauce creativity help your pizza stand out in this new takeout landscape.
When considering pizza, it’s easy to get focused on the crust as the foundation and the toppings as the exciting bells and whistles that close the deal, but all that ignores one component that really is key to bringing it all together — the sauce.
For many, that is limited to a red or white sauce designed to complement the toppings and the crust. Occasionally you might see a romesco, tomato-laced with peppers and pine nuts or almonds, for a bolder taste or an olive oil and garlic when a lighter hand is required. Once you step beyond the base of red and white, though, you might find there are a litany of flavors and international influences that you can draw on to help take your pies to the next level.
Olives and anchovies are already mainstays for pizza — why not take it a step further and create a tasty paste to slather across your pizza dough? Top it off with roasted potatoes to smooth out the bold flavors or crumble some bleu cheese on top to dial it up even more.
Take your Margherita in a new direction by replacing the red sauce with pesto. Top with fresh mozzarella and thin slices of tomato — perfect for when tomatoes are in season and can be the star of the show. This also pairs well with diced chicken.
The tangy taste of barbecue sauce is already hugely popular — use it as a platform for all manner of braised meats, from brisket to short rib. You could even have a little fun and top it with boneless chicken wings for the ultimate sports bar pizza.
Let’s face it, pizza with all its cheeses and heavy meats can impact a diet. When spread onto a crust, hummus chars nicely and is the perfect base for healthy grilled vegetables and Mediterranean spices. If you want to add a little cheese, crumble some fresh feta or chop up some Lebanese halloumi.
The salty and sweet contrasting flavors of many styles of Asian cuisine are hugely popular. Use hoisin sauce as a base to create an amazing duck pizza, or to finally prove that pineapple (along with bacon) really does belong on a pizza. Perhaps a mix of soy sauce and miso is the way to go, topped with shiitake mushrooms or creamy slices of avocado and a little pickled ginger. You could even go a little over-the-top exotic with broiled eel for protein. And there’s nothing wrong with a little spice, say a creamy wasabi, to prepare your crispy thin crust for thin slices of seared tuna.
Indian influenced pizza might give one pause, but there are actually a number of Indian-themed pizza parlors across the nation. The leap really isn’t that far from naan bread to pizza crust, and the results are fantastic. Consider a creamy coconut curry sauce or tandoori style — tomato sauce with fragrant cumin and coriander — to build your pie. For toppings, you could choose from braised lamb or even goat. Accentuate the flavors with a little tamarind mint chutney and replace the usual cheeses with a fresh paneer to top it all off.
Most everyone is familiar with the usual allergy culprits, from nuts to dairy, but there is also a not-insignificant portion of the population that is allergic to nightshade vegetables, taking most pizza off their list of dining options. Put it back on their menu by using a purée of pumpkin and roasted beetroot. This sauce will approximate the mouthfeel and basic taste profile of a tomato sauce and will play well with the usual cast of pizza sauce spices. Just be careful to not let the sauce simmer too long — the beets will discolor over time and leave your sauce looking unappetizing.
Consumers are constantly on the lookout for something new and interesting, especially now. Whether pizza is your main business, a popular option, or a creative special, stepping beyond the usual red and white suspects opens up a world of possibilities for new and exciting toppings and is a great way to get more people talking about your culinary vision.