When Cambria threw her pizza party on the porch, she knew she needed at least one great vegetarian pizza. So we cooked up this white pizza, with a garlicky ricotta sauce (no cooking required!), topped with handfuls of fresh spinach and luxurious slices of avocado and mozzarella.
It's a pretty great way to welcome a vegetarian to the pizza party — but be sure to make extra, because everyone else will probably want a slice too.
I have a fairly equal-opportunity love for red sauce (see our basic red pizza sauce recipe here) and white sauce on pizza. Red sauce belongs with all those classic toppings like fresh Parmesan, basil, prosciutto, and other Italian delights.
But white sauce has its own pleasures, bringing a creamy base for milder toppings like greens and smoky meats like bacon. I prefer mine garlicky to cut through the richness of the sauce.
This pizza is quite simple and will go well with any white sauce you choose to use, although I offer my own easy favorite below. Make sure to use whole milk mozzarella; or, for an extra-amazing treat, chunks of gooey burrata.
White Pizza with Avocado, Spinach & Mozzarella
Serves 6 with 3 small pizzas
For the sauce:
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
1/4 cup half and half
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pizza:
3 small balls of pizza dough, such as from this recipe
6 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 Hass avocado, pitted and thinly sliced
3 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
6 ounces whole milk mozzarella, sliced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
To make the sauce: Blend the ricotta, half and half, olive oil, and garlic together in a small food processor and season to taste with salt and pepper. Alternatively, mince or grate the garlic finely and mix the sauce by hand. The sauce can be refrigerated up to 3 days.
To bake the pizza: Preheat the oven to 500°F. Place a baking stone or baking sheet in the oven as it heats. Pat a ball of dough into a thin round approximately 10 inches across. Spread with about 1/4 cup of the white sauce and 2 tablespoons of chopped red onion. Transfer to the baking stone or sheet and bake until the edges begin to brown and the bottom of the pizza is set — 2 to 3 minutes, depending on your oven.
Sprinkle with about 1 cup of the spinach, and top with slices of avocado and mozzarella. Bake for an additional 2 to 4 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted, the avocado is warmed through, and the cheese is partially melted.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle with additional salt and pepper and Parmesan. Serve immediately.
To grill the pizza: Preheat your gas grill with all the burners on high 10 to 15 minutes before you plan to cook. (Alternatively, start a charcoal grill.) Once heated, turn off or lower half the burners, creating an area of direct heat and an area of indirect heat. (Alternatively, bank a charcoal grill to create areas of direct and indirect heat.)
Pat a ball of dough into a thin round approximately 10 inches across. Grease lightly with olive oil and and grill over direct heat, with the cover closed, just until the bottom of the dough is set and begins to show grill marks — 1 to 3 minutes. Use tongs to flip the pizza over and move it to the indirect heat.
Spread with about 1/4 cup of the white sauce and 2 tablespoons of chopped red onion. Cover and cook for about 1 minute or until the edges are beginning to brown. Sprinkle with about 1 cup of the spinach, and top with slices of avocado and mozzarella. Close the grill and cook for an additional 2 to 4 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted, the avocado is warmed through, and the cheese is partially melted.
Remove from the grill, sprinkle with additional salt and pepper and Parmesan. Serve immediately.
(Image credits: Kristin Teig)