this broccoli white pizza refused to wait his turn. i had originally planned to post this recipe in a few weeks, after a few others that i had in the queue. when i made this pizza again on sunday to photograph it while the sun was out, however, i just couldn’t wait to share it with you. it’s so good!
now, if you’ll travel back in time with me for a moment, i will explain where i got the idea for this pizza.
when i was in high school, bertucci’s (italian chain restaurant in the northeast) was a popular destination for dinners with both family and friends/groups. their brick oven pizza was good and the fact that they had a large dining room and were just over the border in the next town over certainly didn’t hurt when trying to get a group of high schoolers to show up at the same place and time(ish).
when i went with family, things were easy: i would get an individual pizza and there were a few combinations of toppings that i would rotate through and enjoy. when i went with friends or groups though, there would inevitably be some attempt to pick a few pizzas that would satisfy everyone.
and someone would always suggest the dreaded “silano”, topped with chicken, broccoli, and a lemon pepper cream sauce. in other words, a bunch of 15-year-old kate’s least favorite things. namely broccoli, lemon, pepper, and cream sauce. and chicken on a pizza? do we have to?
fast forward to the present (well, a few weeks ago) when i decided to try out a white pizza with broccoli and, lo, i loved it! this was one of those merciful recipes where it comes out perfectly the first time i made it (AND i actually wrote a recipe down for myself as i went along so i could reproduce it!).
this miracle success was due largely to the fact that i was combining a bunch of things that i knew worked well individually, such as my pizza dough, roasted broccoli, and cream-less creamy garlic sauce (which i will happily eat off a spoon, despite not liking real cream sauces).
in fact, if we’re being honest, i’ve been brainstorming new vehicles for this creamy garlic sauce ever since i first discovered it as part of a recipe for vegan butternut squash stuffed shells over at love & lemons. i mean, i’m happy to dip crackers in the sauce and call it dinner, but i wasn’t sure y’all would be impressed with that “recipe”.
therefore, i was determined to find a “legitimate” recipe that i could use the sauce in. and i came up with two! (stay tuned for another one on thursday so that you don’t have to eat the leftover sauce on crackers…unless you want to!)
and just to clarify, this magical cream-less creamy garlic sauce is actually cashews, water, garlic, and lemon. and it’s way more amazing that the weirdness it sounds like it would be! please give it a chance? my husband likes it, and he’s generally not as enthused as i am about putting nuts in a blender/food processor and transforming them into something else.
ok, so, besides this delicious sauce, we have broccoli, a bit of parmesan, some mozzarella, and a quick dash of crushed red pepper. and honestly, since the sauce is vegan and has so much flavor, if you wanted to keep the whole pizza vegan/dairy free, you could put an extra dollop of the creamy garlic sauce, skip the cheeses, and be a happy vegan/dairy free camper!
and on the opposite end of the spectrum, as bertucci’s has demonstrated, if you wanted to add some sliced, cooked chicken, you could totally do that. (this is the part where my chicken-loving husband is wondering why i didn’t do that on our pizza – sorry dear!)
this is getting long-winded but one more thing: this pizza is begging to be made in stages and then assembled and baked on a busy weeknight. you could absolutely roast the broccoli, grate the cheeses, and make the creamy garlic sauce in advance and then either make this pizza dough in advance or buy a ball of dough. then you would just need to assemble the pizza while the oven preheats and 12 minutes later, you would be eating delicious broccoli white pizza.
speaking of which, the last of the leftovers are in the fridge and they’re calling my name…
- 2 oz. (1/2 cup / 57 g.) unsalted, raw cashews, see notes
- 1/3 cup (2 3/4 oz. / 80 ml) fresh water (not the water they soaked in)
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- pizza dough, or your favorite dough
- 2 medium heads of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 4 oz. (1 cup / 113 g.) part-skim mozzarella, coarsely grated
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced parmesan reggiano
- crushed red pepper, to taste
- prepare pizza dough. if you’re using the recipe linked above, it has to rise for 9+ hours. if you’re using something else, have it at room temperature and ready to go.
- combine the cashews, water, garlic, and lemon juice in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. you can do this in a food processor, if you don’t have a high-powered blender, but the sauce won’t be as smooth.
- preheat the oven to 425° F. if you have a pizza stone, set it in the oven now to heat up gradually to avoid cracking it by placing it in a hot oven later.
- on a rimmed baking sheet, toss the broccoli with the olive oil. roast for 10 minutes. remove from the oven, turn the broccoli over and add the garlic. roast for 8 more minutes, until the broccoli has some dark brown bits but before the garlic starts to turn dark brown. remove the pan from the oven and turn the oven up to its highest temperature, usually 500° F or 550° F.
- chop about 2 1/2 cups of the roasted broccoli and garlic into smaller pieces to put on the pizza. save any remaining broccoli to serve with the pizza or in roasted vegetable burrito bowls.
- on a piece of parchment paper, press or roll the pizza dough out. once the oven is preheated, prebake the dough on the parchment paper for 4 minutes before you put any toppings on it.
- pull the dough out of the oven (an upside down baking sheet is helpful to move the dough around) and give the dough a gentle shake to make sure it’s not stuck to the parchment paper.
- spread about 1/4 cup of the creamy garlic sauce across the crust. i usually add the cheese last to hold everything in place but this time i put the broccoli on top because it’s pretty and to give it another chance to get even crispier.
- transfer the dough directly onto the pizza stone (without the parchment this time – the dough should no longer be sticky). bake for 7 – 8 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and light golden brown. remove from the oven (baking sheet transfer for the win, again!) and let it cool for 1 minute before cutting it and diving in.
creamy garlic sauce ideally, the cashews should be soaked in water for 3 – 4 hours, then drained. if you have a high-powered blender, you can get away with skipping this step but if you have a normal blender, definitely soak (you can soak the cashews overnight, if that’s easier).
this will make more creamy garlic sauce than you need for this pizza; store the remainder in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use it with the recipe coming this thursday (acorn squash burrito bowls). or on crackers, toast, eggs, pasta, nachos, chicken, black beans and rice… you get the idea.
variations as i said above, you could either make this whole pizza vegan/dairy free by skipping the two cheeses and just putting a little bit more of the flavorful creamy garlic sauce or you could take this pizza in the other direction and add cooked, sliced chicken.
make ahead this pizza is begging to be made in stages and then assembled and baked on a busy weeknight. you could absolutely roast the broccoli, grate the cheeses, and make the creamy garlic sauce in advance and then either make the pizza dough in advance or buy a ball of dough. then you would just need to assemble the pizza while the oven preheats and 12 minutes later, you would be eating delicious broccoli white pizza.
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