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5 Pizzas that Think Outside the Box

Pizza is probably one of the most brilliant creations of all time. Dough topped with a nuanced sauce layered with cheese and vegetables and meat, all baked to a crisp yet gooey, savory yet delicate masterpiece. But, just as the masterpiece of the Mona Lisa gets endlessly reproduced in mugs, t-shirts, and tote bags, so too can a few shining stars of the pizza scene—pepperoni, Hawaiian, margherita—become simulacra, repeated infinitely in neighborhood pizza parlors, high-end restaurants, and fast-food chains. Where does the idea of pizza go? What does pizza become?

Ahem—my feeble attempt to inject some postmodernism into a conversation about pizza aside, the point is that it’s easy for pizza to get stuck in a rut. Here are five pizzas that twist and turn the concept and generate some pizza innovation; in the meantime, I’m gonna cool my theoretical jets and just watch some Pizza Underground.

1. Shaved Asparagus Pizza with Roquefort, Eggs, & Pecorino

Shaved Asparagus Pizza with Roquefort, Eggs, & Pecorino

Great way to shake up pretty much anything: put an egg on it! But this pizza is more than just trendy ingenuity—the flavors of the blue cheese riposte grassier pecorino, all of which is balanced by the twin pillars of fresh, crisp asparagus and creamy egg yolk. Cook it up today!

2. Chard-Stuffed Flatbread

Chard-Stuffed Flat Bread

Photo Credit: Russell Yip, San Francisco Chronicle

Ok, so technically not a pizza, but this recipe from Molly Watson for the San Francisco Chronicle delightfully plays with the dough + cheese + toppin/filling equation. The incredible hybrid halfway between a pizza and a calzone (which, as we know, are kinda pointless) packs a crispy-thin crust while the metallic notes of the chard get toned down by the mozzarella-Parmesan mix and the wads of pancetta.

3. Caramelized Onion, Fig, & Bacon Pizza

Valley Fig Caramelized Onion, Fig, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Pizza

Sweet things on a pizza might seem to be crossing a line of some kind, but once you experience the mellow fig sweetness set against the backdrop of umami-laden bacon, caramelized onion, and crumbled goat cheese on this phenomenal pie, you’ll never think twice again.

4. Brussels Sprout, Mushroom, and Crème Fraîche Pizza

Brussels Sprout, Mushroom, & Crème Fraîche Pizza

Photo Credit: Veggie and the Beast

Really cool vegetarian blog Veggie and the Beast comes up with a lot of culinary nuance, but this recipe takes the cake: the fresh dairy taste of the crème fraîche finds its counterpoint in the blast of balsamic glaze, with hearty brussels sprouts and mushrooms making up the backbone.

5. Deep-Dish Pizza Puttanesca with Aged Tuscan Pecorino

Deep-Dish Pizza Puttanesca

While any mention of Puttanesca puts me in mind of A Series of Unfortunate Events, only good fortune can surely come from this simple yet decadent combination of anchovies and olives stewed in a tomato sauce and then baked with an amazing Pecorino Toscano.

Feature Photo Credit: Veggie and the Beast

Grant Bradley

Grant Bradley is culture's former web editor and never ceases to thank his nameless human ancestor who figured that leaving some milk around for a while and then eating it was probably a great idea. Raised on California’s Central Coast, educated in the Pacific Northwest, and transplanted to New England, Grant likes to write, edit, and code things.