Three-Cheese White Pizza

We recently had a homemade pizza night. It's been quite a while since I made pizza and even longer since I've had a dreamy white pizza. So when it came down to picking toppings, instead of reaching for the pepperonis like usual, I reached for cheeses. Three kinds of white, tasty cheeses to be exact: ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan.

I did some research on how best to make my own white pie. It turns out the best method does not include throwing cheese on to dough and baking it - that would be called Pokey Sticks and may they rest in peace (at least in Virginia).

I found a great White Sauce recipe that I adjusted slightly, slathered it on dough from Pizza Tonight, and topped with cheese and herbs before baking it to bubbly perfection. It turned out delicious, but I feel as if I owe its success to the quality of the cheeses that I used. I went to Ellwood Thompson's and picked up freshly made, fluffy ricotta (the exact opposite of the kind found in a sealed white tub at Kroger). I also bought fresh mozzarella that was made locally. Pizza Tonight is great because I get that homemade dough taste without having to do all the work myself! If I were to use, say, Trader Joe's pizza dough, I might double the White Sauce recipe since they can make a decent size pie.

Although I'm pretty traditional in my pizza toppings (veggies/cheeses/meats), this White Sauce would be a great base for a seafood pizza, if you're into that - bay scallops, tiny shrimp, Old Bay seasoning... or even a pesto chicken pizza... *drools on keyboard*

In the spirit of delicious White Pizzas, I've listed out a few of my favorites below. Where does your favorite White Pizza come from?

Five50 Pizza, Aria Resort, Las Vegas: "The Truffle" truffle salami, bechamel, parmesan cheese, fresh thyme, shaved truffles. Eaten daily during a recent four-day Vegas trip.

8 1/2, Richmond: Crispy, simple, and spicy. Made with fontina cheese. The same people own Mamma Zu, so you can bet their white pie is perfection, too.

Stuzzi, Richmond: super cheesy (four types - can you say heavenly?), EVOO, and garlic.

Three-Cheese White Pizza

  • 1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • Grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Few pieces of freshly torn basil leaves
  • Fresh flat leaf parsley
  • White Sauce (recipe follows)
  • Homemade or store bought pizza dough

1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Place a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven while preheating. 

2. Take the dough and flatten it with your hands on a slightly floured work surface (I used a cookie sheet). Starting at the center and working outwards, use your fingertips to press the dough to ½-inch thick. Turn and stretch the dough until it will not stretch further.

3. Remove the baking stone from the oven. Lightly dust it with flour, then carefully transfer the dough from the working area to the stone.

4. Moving quickly, spread the white sauce over the surface of the dough, leaving a ¼-inch border uncovered. Loosely scatter mozzarella cheese on top of white sauce, without packing it too tight (the cheese will spread when it melts). Crumble the ricotta mixture evenly over the White Sauce and mozzarella. 

5. Sprinkle entire pizza with a dash of garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and a tablespoon or so more of grated Parmesan.

6. Bake for 11-14 minutes, watching closely. The crust should be crisp and slightly browned or charred on the edge and the cheese should be bubbling and just beginning to caramelize. Let the pizza cool on a baking rack for about 3 minutes before slicing. 

7. Garnish with additional basil and parsley and serve.

For the White Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 hand-grated block Parmesan cheese (or pre-grated if necessary)
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 or 6 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute longer. 

2. Add the cream, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the cream thickens and reduces slightly.

3. Add in grated Parmesan cheese and stir until dissolved. 

4. Remove from the heat, stir in the thyme, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool completely before using.


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