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3 Offbeat and Easy Homemade Pizza Recipes

Change up toppings with the season for unique versions of one of our favorite foods

En español | Pizza is my family's favorite dish. We love it so much, we cohosted our younger daughter and son-in-law's rehearsal dinner at Pepe's Pizza in New Haven, Conn. After serving up enough pizza to stuff us all, the owners invited us back to the kitchen, where we took turns making our own. It was one of the highlights of that special weekend.

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Now my older daughter is thinking about what kind of baby shower she'd like. No teacakes and finger sandwiches for her: She wants a coed party with a make-your-own pizza bar extravaganza.

When you enjoy pizza as often as we do, you have to get creative — starting with the crust. When there's time, I make it from scratch. As long as you've got a few hours to let the dough rise and a food processor, it only takes about five minutes to make the dough. For nights when homemade dough isn't possible, I keep balls of store-bought dough in the freezer (it thaws quickly in the microwave).

When we need the dough ready even sooner, I've developed a recipe for quick yeast-less flatbread dough (see below) made with bread flour, salt and a little oil and water. This dough can be made and rolled out even before the oven has had time to preheat.

Or, for a super-fast weeknight supper, I often pull out a couple of pocket-less pitas or naan bread from the freezer and make top-and-bake pizzas.

Right now our pizza toppings are shifting with the changing weather — from summer's bounty to fall's harvest. Last month we were topping pizzas with zucchini and peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. This month it's apples and onion, butternut squash and cabbage. We're adding a little fall pork, too.

These additions are just suggestions — feel free to mix and match toppings as you like. Caramelized onions would enhance any of these pizzas, while diced bacon would partner just as well with apple or butternut squash.

Apple and onion pizza (threemanycooks.com)

This flatbread pizza with caramelized onion, cheddar cheese and apple slices is as fun to eat as it is to prepare. — threemanycooks.com

Flatbread Pizzas With Caramelized Onions, Apples and Cheddar

Makes 4 flatbread pizzas

  • 1 cup bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup warm water, plus extra if necessary
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup apple butter
  • 1 apple, halved, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces grated cheddar cheese (about 1 cup)

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Mix flour and salt in a food processor. Mix water and oil and pour over flour mixture; process to form a soft dough that when pressed comes together. If dough is too stiff (hard clay texture), process in another tablespoon of water; continue to process dough until well kneaded, about 15 seconds.

With floured hands, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into quarters. Working with one quarter at a time, roll dough to an approximate 12- by-4-inch thin rectangle, coating with flour and turning as necessary to keep it from sticking.

Transfer to a large parchment- or silpat-lined rimless cookie sheet. (All 4 flatbreads should fit crosswise on the same sheet.)

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Add onions and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until spotty brown. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until impressively and uniformly caramelized, about 10 minutes longer.

Spread each dough rectangle with a portion of apple butter. Arrange apple slices over apple butter, top with onions, and then sprinkle with cheese. Bake until crisp and golden brown. Remove from oven and serve.

Butternut squash and prosciutto pizza (threemanycooks.com)

Want something different? Try this naan pizza with butternut squash, grated fontina cheese, prosciutto and arugula. — threemanycooks.com

Naan Pizzas With Butternut Squash, Prosciutto and Fontina

Makes 4 pizzas

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups butternut squash, cut into small cubes
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 naan flatbreads (or large pocket-less pitas)
  • 6 ounces grated fontina cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • 2 cups arugula, tossed with a few drops of oil and a pinch of salt

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash; saute until tender, seasoning with salt and pepper, until spotty golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, sprinkle each naan with a portion of cheese and top with squash. Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven; lay a slice of prosciutto over each pizza, top with a portion of greens, and serve.

Cabbage and bacon pizza (threemanycooks.com)

Use store-bought pizza dough for this simple recipe. Sprinkle with cabbage, bacon and Swiss cheese, then bake to perfection. — threemanycooks.com

Pizzas With Cabbage, Bacon and Swiss

  • Makes 4 pizzas
  • 6 slices bacon, cut into medium dice
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 package (1 pound) store-bought pizza dough, cut into quarters
  • Cornmeal for baking sheet
  • 6 ounces grated Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 500 degrees.

Meanwhile, fry bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until almost crisp, about 5 minutes; transfer bacon to paper toweling with a slotted spoon to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of renderings and return skillet to medium-high heat. Add cabbage and saute until just wilted, 3 to 4 minutes.

Quarter dough and stretch each piece into an approximate 12-by-4-inch rectangle; transfer to a large cornmeal-coated baking sheet. (All 4 pizzas should fit crosswise on the same sheet.)

Sprinkle with cheese, then cabbage, then bacon; bake until crisp and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

AARP food expert Pam Anderson is a best-selling cookbook author and blogger at threemanycooks.com.

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