Back in February, Ina Garten posted a picture to her Instagram of a cacio e pepe brussels sprouts pizza that she enjoyed at Danny Meyer’s latest New York restaurant, Martina Pizzeria. The internet went nuts. Just google cacio e pepe brussels sprouts pizza and you will see that every news outlet ran a story exclaiming that this pizza was Ina’s favorite! It’s not surprising since Ina is fairly guarded with her personal recommendations.
But when Ina talks, it seems as though many of us listen. At least I do as she is considered the arbitor of all things “fabulous” as she likes to say. I started following Martina Pizzeria so I would remember to visit them on my next visit to New York. Unfortunately that didn’t happen when we were in the city recently. Images of that cacio e pepe brussels sprouts pizza appeared once again recently, this time on Martina’s Instagram account, taunting me with its beauty. I became a little obsessed with how I was going to enjoy those flavors at home.
So what is cacio e pepe? Traditionally, it’s a Roman pasta preparation. Strands of long pasta are tossed with salty Pecorino Romano cheese (cacio), coarsely cracked black pepper (pepe) and pasta cooking water to create a creamy, cheesy sauce with a kick. No butter or cream, but a completely luxurious and decadent dish. I posted a twist on that traditional recipe last summer with my Cacio e Pepe Pasta with Sugar Snap Peas and Zucchini that you should try sometime…
Let’s get back to the pizza!
My book group had its first meeting of the year this past week. This is our fourth year together and for the past three we’ve always enjoyed a pot luck dinner at our first Fall meeting which is really fun. My friend, Francine hosted and prepared a divine slow cooked salmon and a quinoa-brown rice salad. I offered to bring an appetizer and decided it was time to attempt that cacio e pepe brussels sprouts pizza.
I first thought to prepare smaller pizzettes for a couple of reasons. First, I always love making miniatures and little bites when preparing appetizers. I think one or two biters max work the best when trying to balance it with a beverage in the other hand. Second, the smaller pizzettes I find a little easier to handle and cut. Perhaps most importantly, I think the smaller pizzettes end up having more crunch – no soggy center because the dough’s edges cook more quickly then the center. And lastly, I think working with the smaller pieces of dough prevents you from over topping your pizzettes.
My book group loved the pizzettes and when I made another batch later in the week for photos, different friends were happy to sample a piece and take some home for later.
I used store bought white and mulit grain dough from Whole Foods, both of which were very tasty. The first step was to divide the dough evenly into 4 pieces and roll out to a thin oval. Next, I drizzled the dough with a little olive oil which helps with flavor and color. Salty, crumbly Pecorino Cheese is added next along with some coarsely cracked black pepper. Shredded brussels sprouts that have been tossed with olive oil and lemon zest are added along with more Pecorino cheese and a touch of heavy cream. The pizzettes are baked on the bottom rack in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes…
I cut the pizzettes into four pieces for appetizers, but you can cut them any way you would like…
We can thank Ina and Martina Pizzeria for the inspiration, but the recipe is all mine 🙂 Make, share, enjoy and please report back!