I’d like to discuss an oxymoron: Italian Thanksgiving. I can’t think of a dessert more American than apple pie, or more appropriate to Thanksgiving. Except when the “pie” in question is, in fact, a pizza pie. A traditional Southern Italian food, pizza has been adopted by American culture wholeheartedly. So, this “pie” is a true collision of Italian and American cultures. It combines an earthy whole wheat crust with farm fresh apples, thinly sliced gouda cheese, plump cranberries, fried sage and a smattering of honey. This pie works as an appetizer, a wonderful addition to an antipasto plate, or as a sweet and savory dessert, to be served along side a selection of other cheeses and fruit.
Thanksgiving Apple Pizza Pie
1 recipe whole wheat pizza dough (found here). This recipe makes 4-5 personal sized pizzas. You can also purchase uncooked pizza dough from your grocery store or local pizzeria.
3 apples, thinly sliced. Use what your local orchard is dishing out. I like Honey Crisp, but I also threw in some Golden Delicious and a tart Granny Smith.
1/4 Gouda cheese. You want something semi-soft.
1/4 cup dried cranberries
6–8 sage leaves, fried in olive oil and crumbled
honey – as much as you like
salt to taste
Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of your oven and heat to 500 degrees for at least a half hour prior to using it.
In the meantime, thinly slice the apples. I sliced mine to an 1/8″ thickness.
Next, slice the cheese.
You can also prepare the fried sage by heating tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is nice and hot, place in the sage leaves. They won’t take long to fry, about 30 seconds or so. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and place them on paper towels to absorb the oil (like bacon!). You can crumble them with your hands, and once the pizza pops out of the oven, sprinkle them on top.
Sprinkle some semolina flour or cornmeal on a pizza peel and stretch out a pizza dough round to about 10-12″ in diameter.
Place some of the apple slices down on the dough. Don’t overload it with slices at this point, just about 8 should do it.
Follow up with some slices of cheese, and then another layer of apples.
Don’t make your pizza too heavy – save some toppings for the other pies!
Sprinkle with a little salt and a handful of cranberries.
Drizzle with honey.
Shimmy the pizza into the oven and bake for about 8 minutes.
Using the pizza peel, remove the pizza from the oven, drizzle with a little more honey and sprinkle with the crumbled, fried sage.
What You Should Drink:
I politely begged Jameson Fink of Wine Without Worry to give me a pairing recommendation for this pizza. Here is what he suggested:
When Elana asked for my help picking a wine to pair with pizza, I said, “No problem.” Tomato sauce, cheese, pepperoni? Have a Chianti. Boom. Done! Then I actually paid attention to what she told me: a pizza topped with apple, gouda, cranberries and fried sage. Gouda grief! I’d have to put on my thinking cap.
In honor of Elana’s family heritage, I’m sticking with my initial thought of an Italian wine. And in honor of my personal penchant, I’m selecting a rosé. Which gives me the opportunity to go on a mini-wine rant. You think rosé is just for summer sipping? Let me give you my best John McLaughlin: WRONG! My pick, the 2011 “IlChiaretto” from producer Azienda Agricola San Giovanni, has year-round charm and appeal. It’s from the region of Lombardy, not far from the lovely shores of Lake Garda. A refreshingly unusual blend of four grapes (Groppello, Marzemino, Barbera, and Sangiovese), it is pizza-ready.
So let’s take a look at Elana’s culinary creation, starting with the cranberries. (Especially since Thanksgiving thoughts are turning in my head.) A dry rosé has a reminiscent tartness; a fine match whether cranberries are a side dish or atop a pizza. And rosés also have a savory, slightly herbaceous quality perfect with crispy fried sage. Plus the acidity in the IlChiaretto will play nice with crisp apple, and cut through the rich gouda to get you ready for another dang slice.
Last but not least, it comes in a squat, stubby, attention-getting bottle. Turns out it’s a bottle with a purpose. I asked BirkO’Halloran, who is a manager for the company that imports the wine (A. I. Selections), about the bottle. Here’s what Birk had to say:
When I spoke with [owner/winemaker] Paolo, he told me that by his calculations about 70% of the total carbon footprint of wine comes from the glass. The bottles he uses are about 30-40 grams less than a conventional bottle. This has been one of many ways he tries to minimize the carbon footprint of his wine. If you look on the back label you can find amount of carbon produced by the production of the wine. Since he has started recording it he has lowered it every year.
I would also add that this design makes it less difficult to knock over on a table crowded with pizza and friends.