I learned a lot of things in college. On campus, I learned about the politics of energy use in South Africa, how to parse a chapter of James Joyce, and how to swallow a shot of vodka without grimacing.
Off campus, in an Italian restaurant just off the town's main square, I learned that salad is better on top of pizza.
Here, servers bustle about, depositing steaming plates of rigatoni in a balsamic cream sauce and bowls of minestra soup overflowing with cannellini beans. Well-executed classics like braised short ribs share menu space with brown butter chestnut agnolotti. You can order homemade linguini, hot with Calabrian chili, or sip a glass of wine and eat slices of honey-drizzled bruschetta slathered in sheep’s milk ricotta and call it dinner.
But if you did that, you’d miss the real star of the show.
Run your finger down to the pizza section of the menu. Skip the margherita, even though it’s very good. Don’t be tempted by the smoked mozzarella, potato, and pancetta option either. You’re here to try the insalata di pizza, a brilliant mash-up of salad and pizza.
Let me clarify: This isn’t just a pizza with greens on it. The salad and pizza are made separately, but then the salad is heaped on top of the hot pizza, allowing some of the greens to wilt just slightly while retaining their crunch and coolness. This is a marriage made in heaven.
You don’t need to choose between a hot, cheesy pizza and a crisp green salad. You can have both at the same time—and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
I love the original insalata di pizza, the one that first stirred my "pizzalad" passions. I use a basic pizza dough. I top it with a garlicky ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan layer. I toss together a bowl of mixed greens, radicchio, and sun-dried tomatoes dressed in a light balsamic vinaigrette. Sometimes I add grilled chicken or whatever vegetables I have on hand.
But salad pizza is a very loose concept that can be tweaked to suit any mood or taste. Consider the basic formula—a giant salad mounded atop a finished pizza—a starting point for your favorite combinations. Break apart the dish into its components: Think of a salad you like and a pizza you like, and try pairing it. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Margherita pizza + 3 P.M. Salad
- Savory apple pizza + Caesar-Style Kale Salad
- Mozzarella, prosciutto, and spicy honey pizza + Shaved Celery and Fennel Salad
- Cacio e Pepe Pizza + Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad
- Pantry Pissaladière + Roasted Chickpea Salad with Za’atar
So here is my call to action: Make salad pizza. Make it for Sunday dinner at home. Make it for your friends. Bring it to work. Instagram it. Spread the gospel. Call it #pizzalad if you want, or #sizza. Or #saladpizza.
- 2 teaspoons instant or active-dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cups warm water, divided into 1/4 cup and 1 cup
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (12 3/4 ounces), plus more as needed
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 6 cups mixed greens
- 1/2 head radicchio, cored and sliced into ribbons
- 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
What's your perfect salad pizza combination? Share with us in the comments!