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In honor of Mardi Gras, I decided to put together a New Orleans-inspired dinner, which we shared with a lovely couple who came over to watch the Oscars with us. I had this crazy idea of taking gumbo ingredients and putting them on a pizza, because for some reason I was set on making pizzas. It’s just one of those foods that’s so easy to share, especially while sitting around the TV and chatting. And I love gumbo, but just wasn’t in the mood to actually make it. So, why not put it on a pizza? What the hell. I gave my dad a call to talk it out loud, and I have to say I’m really quite proud of my creation. I turned the beans into a sauce, topped the pizza with andouille, chicken, and red peppers, and paired it with fontina, a soft mild-flavored cheese (not very lactose-freendly, I should say) that wouldn’t compete with the cajun seasoning. It’s a lot to put on a pizza, but it was chock full of flavor and my crust held up to it all. We devoured it. But that could be because dinner was late and everyone was starving (that’s always been my dad’s philosophy, make ’em wait long enough and they’ll eat just about anything). But still, I think it was pretty good, worthy enough of sharing my recipe with you. 🙂

One pizza crust, or your own recipe/pre-packaged crust
1 can of white or red kidney beans
1 tomato, diced (or 1/2 a cup of canned diced tomatoes)
1/2 small onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup of vegetable stock (or whatever you have on hand)
1 teaspoon of salt
2-3 tablespoons of white wine (optional) plus a glass for drinking (also optional)
1/2 a tube of andouille sausage, sliced half an inch thick
2 small chicken tenders, diced
1-2 tablespoons of Cajun Seasoning
1 medium bell pepper, chopped artistically (being pretentious, however you prefer)
1/2 cup of shredded fontina cheese
2-3 okra, thinly sliced (optional)
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400. While your crust is pre-cooking or thawing (I went with a rectangle shape on this one, thought it might have a little more structure for the heavy ingredients that way), work through the following steps:

Bean Sauce:
In a large skillet, saute the onions and garlic in a little olive oil until translucent (medium-low heat, 5-8 minutes), then add the diced tomato or canned tomatoes, and then the drained can of beans and salt. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes, just to marry the flavors (or something like that). Set aside to cool. Dump the beans into your blender when ready (don’t put the pan in the sink yet), add the vegetable stock, and puree until smooth. (Add a little more stock if you feel like it isn’t thin enough to easily spread onto your pizza.)

Andouille Sausage:
Place sliced sausage on a greased (with olive oil) sheet pan, sprinkle with cajun seasoning, and pop in the oven for about 10 minutes (just until they’re starting to sizzle, you don’t want to dry them out). Remove and let cool.

Heat up the same skillet you used to cook the beans over medium heat. Once it’s fairly hot, pour in a little white wine, to deglaze the pan (i.e. pull up all the yummy bean bits left over). Pour a glass for yourself while you let it cook off a little (optional but highly recommended), then add the diced chicken. Sprinkle a little more cajun seasoning, and cook for about 7-8 minutes, just until beginning to brown. Like the sausage, you don’t want to cook it to death, it’ll be getting a few more minutes of heat in the oven when you put it on the pizza.

Your last few prep steps should be to grate the cheese, cut up the pepper, and chop the scallion.

Oh! If you’d like to add okra, slice it as thinly as you possibly can, this way you won’t have to pre-cook it. I would have used okra, except that I didn’t remember it until I was already in line, at Trader Joe’s, on a Sunday, and for those of you who haven’t had the distinct pleasure of that experience, I highly encourage you to NEVER DO IT, under any circumstance. My point being, there was no turning back, getting out of that line just for okra would have meant that dinner never would have made it to the table because I would have been stuck in there forever. True story.

Ok, sorry. Once all your toppings have been prepared and your crust is ready, assemble: spoon out the bean sauce, covering completely; lay down the sausage and chicken, getting even coverage; top with the bell pepper slices; lightly cover with cheese. Bake in the oven (still at 400 degrees) for about 10 minutes, remove and top with scallions, and slice once cooled slightly.

Gumbo Pizza

I only remembered to take pictures after most of the food was demolished. This is what happens when you start everything too late; I definitely should have had all the toppings prepared earlier that morning and it would have gone much more smoothly. [And my crust looks weird because I accidentally bought dark buckwheat flour, alters the color but not so much the taste, since what I put on top is powerful enough to mask any “healthy” (read: tastes like dirt) notes from the buckwheat.]

I also made a Potato Rosemary Pizza, with a stuffed crust! It mostly worked (I used string cheese, since that’s what Google said to do), it just isn’t as gooey as I remember the cheese in stuffed crust pizza from somewhere like Papa John’s is.

Potato Rosemary Stuffed-Crust Pizza

I also made a gluten-free King Cake earlier that morning. Disclaimer: I know it doesn’t look like a traditional King Cake. I had a few issues putting it together, so I’m going to retry it tonight and post about it tomorrow for Fat Tuesday. Fingers crossed!

King Cake

AND we had “Tropical Storms,” which is my version of a “Hurricane.” I couldn’t find passion fruit syrup, so I made my own syrup out of peach preserves, candied mangoes, and pineapple juice. Plus lemon juice and LOTS of rum. Which may be why there aren’t that many pictures. I was too busy drinking and eating after a full day of Hunger Games at Trader Joes, baking, cooking, frantically cleaning and organizing, and trying to keep my white sweater white throughout it all. Who does that? You think I’d just go change my shirt once I realized what a terrible mistake I had made, but no, no that would be too simple.

Anywho, stay tuned for a revised King Cake recipe (if you’re interested)!

Happy Monday!