The last few times I’ve had pizza out, it was topped with seafood. Mussels at Pizza Paradiso in Washington, D.C. Grilled octopus at Osteria in Philadelphia. Pizza after my own heart, as I love just about all seafood. Why not atop pizza? Forget what you’ve heard about not mixing seafood and cheese. Sometimes you just have to break the rules.
Given that mussels are more readily available and less expensive than octopus, decided to try this one at home (but I’m sure it won’t be long before you see a post on pizza with octopus). Usually I’m tempted to do everything from scratch, but this time, I bought, yes bought, the dough from my neighborhood Italian market [Vace]. I paired the mussels with an applewood smoked mozzarella, lots of garlic, and diced canned tomatoes (didn’t even make a sauce). I particularly like the addition of the applewood smoked mozzarella to this pizza; adds a nice smokiness that pairs nicely with the mussels.
I searched for some advice on how to go about cooking the mussels on the pizza — steam them and then add to the cooked pizza or cook directly on the pizza? Without much luck in finding any guidance, decided to wing it — scattered the mussels atop the pizza, slid it into the oven, closed the door, and hoped that they would open. And…success, the mussels opened just the right amount, still nice and juicy, in about the same time it took for the dough to get crispy and the cheese to melt. Lastly, be sure to pour some of the “mussel liquid” trapped in the mussel shells on top of the pizza. Adds a touch of salinity and brininess to each bite.
Pizza with Mussels and Smoked Mozzarella
5-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
~ 9 ounces pizza dough
diced canned tomatoes
applewood smoked mozzarella (or other type of mozzarella)
red pepper flakes
Note: if you prefer to make homemade pizza dough, refer to this post for guidance.
Place the sliced garlic in a small saucepan and add enough olive oil to just cover the garlic. Simmer on low heat until the garlic is tender (but not browned). Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon. Reserve the garlic-infused oil.
Place the pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees (or as high as your oven will go) for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
Generously flour a pizza peel with semolina flour. Roll the dough so that it stretches to about 11 to 11 1/2 inches in diameter for a 9 ounce piece of dough. Place the dough on the peel. Top with the garlic, diced tomatoes, smoked mozzarella, and mussels. Season with sea salt.
Slide the pizza onto the baking stone and bake until the crust is golden brown and the mussels are about half open. Remove from the oven and drizzle with a little bit of the reserved garlic oil, and top with red pepper flakes, and chopped parsley.
Note: sometimes I place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the peel and then place the stretched dough on top, to ensure the dough doesn’t stick to the peel. Just slide the parchment and pizza onto the stone, and then remove the parchment paper from the oven after a few minutes.