My house has been converted into a pub. It’s also assumed the role of a taco stand, transformed itself into a noodle bar, and delivered its best impression of a high-end bistro. And just this past week it did its very best to convince me it was a pizzeria and although I’m not particularly gullible, I almost believed it. That probably had less to do with the candlelight and more to do with this Sausage Rapini Skillet Pizza. This pizza was so decadent that I legitimately felt like I’d had a night out after I ate it. The only difference was I didn’t require an Uber in order to crash land on my bed. Yet another weird quarantine perk.
Making Your Home Less of a Home
Now, obviously converting your home into a pizzeria for the night requires more effort on your part than actually going to a full-time pizzeria. But it was absolutely worth it. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty dang sick of my house. Most of the time all I can see is all the chores and home-improvement projects I haven’t gotten around to. And quarantine or not, Saturday night is not the time to tackle the front hall closet. So making your house look just a little less like your house for a night might just save your sanity. Plus, it’s hard to tell how long its been since you vacuumed in flickering candlelight.
A Change of Venue
You don’t have to go for broke with your redesign either. Basically, all Sunny and I did was set the table, light some candles, and actually eat at said table. And if you’re anything like us, you’ve probably been eating most of your meals on the couch with a plate perched on your knees. If that doesn’t describe you, then I am genuinely impressed.
It’s amazing how a simple change of venue, even if that venue is in the same room, can change your evening. We sat and ate at the table and once the food was gone, we still sat at the table. We talked and finished the wine, took turns playing DJ and had a real-deal date. I don’t say this to poo-poo the nights we spend on the couch with a good show – I love those nights as well. I mention the switch up because it’s important to break the monotony of quarantine. If every day feels the same it can start to feel like a time warp. And I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to sleepwalk through spring and summer. But enough about that. Let’s talk about my favorite coping strategy – pizza.
Sausage Rapini Skillet Pizza
Now, there is something you should know about me and you may find it shocking. I’m not the biggest fan of pizza. I, of course, like it because I am a homo sapien but I don’t crave it all that often. I’m far more likely to be seduced by a bowl of noodles than a tasty pizza pie. But having said that when I do get a pizza craving, I have terrible taste. I don’t feel the need for a high-end Neapolitan-style pizza with fior di latte. Oh no. Give me a cheap and cheerful deluxe pizza on a fluffy, bready crust. Yes, I am aware this truth may disqualify me from foodie status.
So, when it came to today’s Sausage Rapini Skillet Pizza, I let my usual pizza cravings drive. Basically, I wanted to create a grownup version of the classic deluxe pizza. I nixed the pepperoni because I’m a one pork product per pizza kind of girl and I prefer sausage. And I upped the classiness of the pizza by adding the sausage’s most beloved playmate – rapini. My adult palate loves the rapini’s bitterness especially when it’s paired with heavier and fattier ingredients like sausage and cheese. It just cuts through the savory noise in such a delicious way.
For this Sausage Rapini Skillet Pizza to truly be the pizza of my dreams, I knew the dough had to be thick. Like, obnoxiously carb-tastic or there was just no point in proceeding. But paradoxically the crust also had to be crisp on the outside. Enter the cast-iron skillet.
A Love Letter to My Cast-Iron Skillet
My love for a good cast iron skillet runs deep. I dare you to show me a more versatile piece of cookware. It can go from stove to oven to campfire. If it’s well-seasoned almost nothing sticks to it and it can be used as a weight if you happen to be making your own lox or brick roasted chicken or even a muffuletta sandwich – check out the saved stories on my Instagram for more on that. But for our purposes today, I selected a cast-iron skillet because it creates the best crust for our pie.
From Scratch or Halfway There
Now, for those of you who are on a tight timeline, you can totally skip the homemade pizza sauce component of this recipe. You can use jarred stuff if you’re in a pinch. But if you do have the time, homemade sauce is so much better and it’s pretty easy to make. But if you need pizza, like, now, give the sauce a miss.
I do, however, refuse to let you off the hook dough-wise. This pizza is basically 50% bread, so make it the best bread it can be. And the best bread it can be is homemade and fresh from the oven. You need to make this dough, especially if you’re feeling pretty much done with Neapolitan stuff.
So, that’s everything you need to know about this Sausage Rapini Skillet Pizza. It’s exactly what a quarantine date night needs. Don’t forget the wine, the tunes, and, of course, the candlelight. Follow these rules and trust me, you’ll literally see your home in a whole new light.
Sausage Rapini Skillet Pizza with Focaccia Crust
- Large Cast Iron Skillet
Focaccia-Style Pizza Dough
- 1 ½ cups luke warm water
- 1 tsp Active dry yeast
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 cups all purpose flour
Quick Marinara Sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 can whole tomatoes
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 6-8 sprigs fresh oregano bound with butcher's twine
- 2 bay leaves
Sausage Rapini Skillet Pizza
- 227g (8oz) rapini
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp lemon juice divided
- 2 Hot Italian sausages casings removed
- ½ cup ricotta
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 batch Focaccia-Style Pizza Dough see below
- ½ batch Quick Marinara Sauce see below
- 200g (7oz) mozzarella shredded
- ¼ cup sliced green olives
- ¼ cup banana peppers
For the Dough
- Pour the yeast, olive oil, salt, and water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.1 ½ cups luke warm water, 1 tsp Active dry yeast, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp salt
- Add a cup and a half of the flour to the mixer and turn it on low. Mix the dough until the flour is well-integrated. Add another cup of the flour and again leave the dough to mix until the flour is well-integrated. From here, add additional flour a 1/4 cup at a time until the dough pulls away and cleans the sides of the bowl.3 cups all purpose flour
- Transfer the dough to the counter and knead the dough by hand until smooth and silky. This should take about 7-10 minutes.
- Stretch the dough to fit the circumference of the skillet, brush the surface with additional olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for an hour and a half or until doubled in size. While the dough is rising, make the Marinara sauce.
For the Sauce
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat. Once shimmering, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Saute the onion until just translucent. Stir in the garlic and saute until fragrant.2 tbsp olive oil, 1 yellow onion, 3 cloves garlic
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook until half of the liquid has cooked off. Add the can of tomatoes, crushing each tomato in your hand before adding them to the skillet. Pour in any remaining liquid in the can.½ cup dry white wine, 1 can whole tomatoes
- Stir in the salt and sugar. Bring the mixture up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add the bay leaves and oregano and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 6-8 sprigs fresh oregano, 2 bay leaves
- Taste the sauce and season with salt accordingly. Remove the sprigs and bay leaves. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pour the sauce into a bowl and set aside to cool.
For the Pizza
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Remove the leaves from the rapini stalks and set aside. Cut the rapini stalks into 2-inch pieces and set aside.227g (8oz) rapini
- Place the sausage in a skillet over medium heat and saute until cooked through. Transfer the sausage to a bowl and set aside until ready to use.2 Hot Italian sausages
- Add the rapini stalks and oil to the skillet and a pinch of salt. Saute the stalks until just tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add the leaves and saute until wilted. Stir in the chili flakes and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Taste and season with salt accordingly. Transfer the rapini to a bowl and set aside until ready to use.1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil
- Form a ridge around the circumference of the risen dough using your fingertips. Cover the center of the dough with an even layer of marinara sauce. Save the rest of the sauce for pasta or future pizzas.1 batch Focaccia-Style Pizza Dough, ½ batch Quick Marinara Sauce
- Place the ricotta, salt, and the remaining lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.½ cup ricotta, ½ tsp salt, 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Sprinkle the pizza with half of the mozzarella cheese. Cover the cheese with half of the sausage and half of the rapini. Repeat the order with the remaining cheese, sausage and rapini.200g (7oz) mozzarella
- Spoon dollops of the ricotta onto the pizza and sprinkle with the banana pepper and olives.¼ cup sliced green olives, ¼ cup banana peppers
- Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating once. Let the pizza stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Sprinkle with additional crushed red pepper flakes if desired.