March 20, 2011

Sausage & Balsamic-Caramelized Onion Pizza - and a homemade whole wheat crust recipe


We love, love, love homemade pizza.  Not only can you make it healthier than what you buy at the pizza shops, you can put together some way crazy-delicious flavor combinations that you just can't buy.  Now, don't get me wrong - I love pizza from pizza shops ... swear I could eat it every day and never get tired of it.  Unfortunately, I don't think my pants would be very happy with me if I did that.  So I've played around at home and come up with several homemade pizzas we really enjoy, and with a whole wheat crust to boot.  Here's the first of our favorites - Sausage & Balsamic-Caramelized Onion Pizza.

Sometimes I make my own crust, but most of the time - I'll admit - I buy pre-made dough balls at the grocery store.  My favorites - 1.  Trader Joe's for $0.99 (can you believe that price??), and 2.  Harris Teeter for $1.99.  When I go to Trader Joe's, I bring a cooler and buy like 10 or 15 dough balls at a time.  Then I stick them in the freezer and pull them out as I need them.  Harris Teeter just started carrying the whole wheat dough balls (in their deli section), so that's a great option now, too.  Check your local grocery stores to see what's available.  If you'd like to make your own, I've included my recipe at the end of this post.

Pre-made Dough Balls
The beauty of the toppings for this pizza is you can prepare them in advance and just stick them in the frig until you're ready to assemble the pizza.  A lot of times, I get the toppings ready the day before.  First, fry up your sausage (I didn't take a picture of that), and then caramelize your onions.  To do that, slice them in rings and put them in a fry pan with a little butter (or olive oil):
Starting the onions
After they've softened a bit, add in the balsamic vinegar and continue to cook them until all the liquid has been absorbed.
With the Balsamic vinegar added
When you're ready to assemble, roll out your dough ...
Rollin' out the dough ...
... and put it on a pizza stone or baking sheet.  As you can see, I don't try to get real precise with the shape.
... you can be very rustic with the dough shape
Spread on your sauce.  I use just a very simple sauce of crushed tomatoes.  Straight out of the can ... yup, just a thin layer of canned crushed tomatoes.
Simple sauce - just crushed tomatoes!
Then add your toppings.  I like to sprinkle on just a tiny bit of cheese first, then the sausage, and then the onions.
Putting on the onions ... they taste better than they look
Then top with a good layer of cheese - however much you want.
Mmmmmmm - ready to bake
Bake it up and enjoy.  I think leftovers are just as yummy, if not even yummier, the next day!

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Sausage & Balsamic-Caramelized Onion Pizza
Source:  Inspired by Williams-Sonoma
(Printable recipe)
Store-bought pizza dough ball OR homemade pizza dough (see ingredients below)

For Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (enough for 2 pizza crusts):
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 c. warm water
4 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. sea salt
3 T. olive oil
3/4 c. + 1-2 T. additional warm water

1 lb. pork sausage
1 large yellow or Vidalia onion
3 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. butter
1 (14 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
Shredded mozzarella

Prepare the Pizza Dough:
Combine yeast and 1 cup warm water to activate yeast - water should be just barely warm to the touch.  Add remaining ingredients and knead together, adding the 1-2 T. additional warm water in the amount needed to form a dough that holds together.  Let dough rise in a greased and covered bowl for about 45-60 minutes.  Divide dough into two halves and roll out for two pizza crusts.  After topping as desired, bake at 425 degrees for about 15-25 minutes.

Prepare the Pizza:
Slice onion in rings, saute in butter over medium-low heat until tender.  Add balsamic vinegar and continue cooking until liquid is gone, caramelizing the onions.  In a separate pan, brown sausage and drain.  Roll pizza dough out to desired size; place on preheated pizza stone or baking sheet.  Spread crushed tomatoes over crust for sauce (you may not use all of the can).  Top with sausage and onions, then sprinkle with cheese.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 15-25 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and just beginning to brown.



  1. Hi Tracey
    I am going to try this one because we like pizza and usually by the sams digorno but as you said we are limited with the toppings
    The whole wheat crust has me excited Can you add garlic too it after it thaws
    Stop on over to my MIL again my St Pats tablescape is up now
    See you soon

  2. I just discovered your blog today and have been perusing all your different posts. I've already bookmarked a ton of them! I've been dying to ask some questions and so I'll start with this one. First question, on the sausage, do you use breakfast-type sausage or a different type? Second question, I have instant yeast, can that be used in place of the active dry yeast? Thanks so much.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit to my little site! On the sausage, I just use the breakfast-type sausage that comes in the 1 lb. bulk roll ... ya know, that you 'squeeze' out of the plastic wrapping and fry up. For the yeast, yes, I believe you can use instant yeast instead of the active dry yeast. I'm not an expert on using instant yeast, but my understanding is that the rise times may just be different. Just check your dough at different time intervals to see if it's ready. Also, it's on my 'list' to put a 'contact me' page on here ... I just haven't made it that far yet. Feel free to e-mail questions at Looking forward to you visiting again!

    2. Or, ask your questions in the post comments like you did with this one, and I'll reply back. Thanks so much!

  3. Oh my! This recipe is a definite keeper! My family likes to make our own pizza too, and I never knew about the pre-made dough. Trader Joe's is supposed to be coming to my town, so I WILL be buying that dough!!
    Love caramelized onions, so my mouth is watering..... Excited to follow!

  4. I'm going to make your pizza tonight, and my mouth is already watering! I also have shared it on Friday Finds today. Thanks!

  5. I use to love eating pizza. Sadly I found out that I can't eat gluten. I agree that you can make and eat way healthier pizza at home. I love that unlike pizza from restaurants you can put any sauces or spices on your pizza. I don't know anyone that didn't like pizza.


I love your comments. I read and appreciate each and every one. Thank you so much for visiting The Kitchen is My Playground! {NOTE: Captcha word verification is on to turn away the 'spambots' ... I apologize for the commenting inconvenience!}

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