In honor of the 4th of July, I decided to “Americanize” a traditional Italian food–pizza. And what could be more American than messing with a traditional cuisine? I had heard about flat bread being used as a substitute for dough but I had never tried it and was pretty skeptical at first. Italian Americans might cringe at the idea of using flat bread but trust me it’s worth trying out! I even used my Sicilian American fiance as a tester for this recipe and I got his enthusiastic approval.
My favorite part about this recipe is the red sauce which can, of course, be used on regular pizza dough if you have that available. The longer you cook it the better it tastes but I only had about 45 minutes and it still turned out delicious. The sauce’s recipe is super basic but tasted fantastic with everything else. The secret ingredient is a pinch of brown sugar (not white sugar!) which mellows out the acidic tomato sauce. I sauteed brown baby bella mushrooms with balsamic vinegar which added a little tangy sweetness to the pizza as well. I had Parmigiano Reggiano on hand but some thick sliced mozzarella or Romano cheese would be amazing with this too. The great thing about pizza is you can take this recipe, mess around with it, and make it your own. That’s totally the American way, amirite?
Flat Bread Italian Sausage Pizzas with Balsamic Glazed Mushrooms
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 14.5 oz. cans tomato sauce
- 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 5 spicy Italian sausage casing removed (1 lb.)
- 1 tbsp oregano dried
- 1 tbsp basil dried
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 5 cups brown baby bella mushrooms washed and sliced
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 8 flat breads I used Papa Pita 7" Greek Pita Flat Breads
- 2 cups grated parmigiano reggiano or more
- 1.5 cups black olives sliced (optional)
- sliced fresh mozzarella or romano cheese optional
- fresh basil leaves optional for garnish
- black pepper and salt to taste
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the onions and garlic in a large stockpot. Cook covered on medium high heat until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
Stir in pepper flakes and sausage with casings removed. Crumble apart as they cook with a fork until they form bite-sized pieces.
Once the sausage has just about browned, stir in the tomato paste, brown sugar, black pepper, oregano and basil.
Stir in tomato sauce thoroughly and then turn up the heat until the sauce just starts to "blurp" (you'll know what I mean). Then turn town the heat until almost the lowest setting and cook about 30 minutes, covered with a crack in the lid. Stir occasionally.
Meanwhile in a saute pan, heat another tablespoon of olive oil and add the mushrooms, black pepper and garlic powder. Cook on high heat, then stir in the balsamic vinegar and cook on medium low heat. Remove from heat as soon as the mushrooms are cooked through and caramelized.
Turn the oven to the broil setting. Over a burner/open flame, heat the flat bread until it is just slightly blackened on top. Set on a cookie sheet and brush with a drop or two of olive oil.
Add a small ladle of tomato sauce and spread around the flat bread.
Then add a serving of mushrooms and sliced olives.
Top with the cheese of your choosing (I used a grated parmigiano reggiano).
Broil in the oven for 1.5-2 minutes max, keeping an eye on it to prevent burning. Remove when the cheese has melted and serve. Top with fresh basil leaves if using and enjoy!
Note: this recipe makes 8 pizzas so be sure to save half of the cooked mushrooms for the next day if serving for two (generally 1 adult eats two pizzas).