Good evening all! I may have mentioned on more than one occasion that my husband is one of those guys who finds a new food or restaurant, and that becomes the only thing that we can eat for weeks. And weeks. And weeks. While most of the time this drives me absolutely nuts, since he already eats like a 12 year old when I don’t cook for him, I was pleasantly surprised when last year he became obsessed with brussel sprouts. Since I’m continuously trying to get him to eat more vegetables, I was at least happy about eating these several times a week!
In England, brussel sprouts are typically eaten with Christmas dinner, boiled to death alongside the roast turkey. The rest of the year, they don’t really exist for 99% of the population. So, imagine my surprise when the waiter at our favorite restaurant recommended their brussel sprouts to us, and when they arrived they were even better than his recommendation had made them sound! They were crispy, mixed with bacon and topped with parmesan cheese – absolutely delicious! Since that day, I have made many attempts at recreating that wondrous bowl of vegetable bacony goodness, to varying degrees of success. Even better though, is that every time my husband sees brussel sprouts with bacon on a menu, he orders them! Our most recent variation was the bacon brussel sprout flatbread from California Pizza Kitchen, which we are both big fans of. So when I had half a bag of my tiny green best friends left over from cooking roast chicken on Sunday night, I knew exactly what I was going to do with them.
Given the baby’s now 1.5 hour naps, I figured I could make the pizza dough from scratch if I did it early in the day. The recipe I like is this one from Karrie at happymoneysaver. I have made it in the food processor and in my stand mixer, and I don’t find any difference between the results of the 2 methods, so go with whichever you prefer. Since we have the a/c on all the time here in Houston, I typically heat the oven to 200 F and then turn it off, to make a nice warm place for the dough to rise. I do the same thing with bread. For both I find it takes about an hour to double in size. I made a full batch of the dough, which is enough for 8 servings, and froze the other 6 individually wrapped and placed into a large zip top bag. I then kept the portion that I needed in a container in the fridge for the rest of the day.
This is not one of my “throw everything in one pan” recipes, but it is pretty quick and it’s worth making a couple of extra dishes for your other half to wash later! If you refrigerated the dough, you’ll want to let it come back up to room temperature before you use it, so while that’s happening and your oven is preheating to 450 F, you can prepare the toppings. I started with a basic cheese sauce: melt the butter over a low heat, add the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Gradually add the milk, stirring or whisking to prevent lumps. Once you get to around the consistency you want (I like it fairly thick for this), add the cheese and stir until it’s all melted. If the sauce is now too thick, add a little more milk. If it’s too thin, you can add a little more cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For the toppings: Dice the bacon and cook over a medium heat to render the fat. Cook to your desired crispiness, then remove the bacon from the pan, leaving the fat. Add the thinly sliced onion to the bacon fat and cook over a low-medium heat until caramelized. Remove the stems from the base of the brussel sprouts, cut in half lengthwise and finely slice.
Roll or stretch the pizza dough to your desired thickness (I find it’s better if it’s on the thin side), leaving a slightly thicker crust around the edge. Spread a thin layer of the sauce over the base (if you have extra leftover it’ll be great with some pasta or in a croque monsieur for lunch!), and sprinkle the onion and bacon over. Add the brussel sprouts, thyme and parmesan, and bake at 450 F for around 12-15 minutes until the crust is golden brown, rotating the baking sheet part way through if needed.
My husband actually ate it, all of it, and said that he couldn’t even taste the vegetables! That’s definitely not true, you can absolutely taste them, but what he means is that he doesn’t have to tell himself that it’s not vegetable in order to eat it! It really is delicious, and completely customizable – whatever cheese, vegetables or other leftovers you have in the fridge would all be great. Please let me know how it turns out if you try it!
Bacon Brussel Sprout Pizza
For the pizza dough (credit: happymoneysaver.com):
This amount of dough is enough for 4 of these pizzas – the rest of it will freeze well in individual portions.
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tbsp yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
For the sauce:
- 1/2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tbsp all purpose flour
- Approx. 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
For the toppings:
- 2-4 slices bacon
- 1 small onion
- 8-12 brussel sprouts
- 1/2 – 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 cup parmesan
- Make the dough: mix the dry ingredients in a stand mixer or food processor. Add the oil, then with the mixer running gradually add the water. Once the dough comes together, place in a lightly greased bowl and leave to rise for about an hour, until doubled in size. Knock the dough back to remove the air bubbles and portion as needed.
- Pre-heat the oven to 450 F
- Dice the bacon and cook until crispy over a medium heat to render the fat. Remove the bacon, but leave the fat in the pan.
- Finely slice the onion and add to the bacon fat. Cook over a low-medium heat until caramelized.
- Trim, halve and finely slice the brussel sprouts.
- Make the sauce: melt the butter, add the flour and cook over a low heat for a few minutes. Gradually add the milk, stirring or whisking to avoid clumps. Once it reaches the desired consistency, add the cheese and continue to heat gently until melted. Add more milk if the sauce is too thick, or more cheese if it’s too thin. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Stretch or roll the dough out to roughly 8×12 inches, leaving it slightly thicker around the edge.
- Spread a thin layer of the sauce over the dough, leaving the edge uncovered.
- Sprinkle the onion and bacon over the sauce, and then cover with the brussel sprouts.
- Sprinkle the thyme and cheese over the top.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown, turning the baking sheet part way through if needed.