What toppings do you like on your pizza? Hamburger, pepperoni, mushrooms? These are usually the first ingredients that come to mind. But what if I asked you have you ever had an onion pizza? Or better yet, an onion pizza with a flavorful crispy beer crust? YUM!

It may sound a little weird at first, onions! But did you know onions are strongly flavored, aromatic members of the lily family. Most have edible grasslike or tubular leaves. Almost every culture incorporates them into its cuisine as a vegetable and for flavoring.

The six onions in this recipe are:

White and Red Onions – These are common or bulb onions. Medium-sized white onions are the most strongly flavored. Widely used as a flavoring ingredient, onions are indispensable in mirepoix (a mixture of 50% onions, 25% carrots and 25% celery). Onions are also prepared as a side dish by deep-frying, roasting, grilling, steaming or boiling. Choose onions that are firm and dry and feel heavy. The outer skins should be dry and brittle. Avoid onions that have begun to sprout.

Scallions – Also known as green onions or bunch onions, are the immature green stalks of bulb onions. The leaves are bright green with either a long and slender or slightly bulbous white base. Green onions are used in stir-fries and as a flavoring in other dishes. The green tops can also be sliced in small rings and used as a garnish. Choose scallions with bright green tops and clean white bulbs. Avoid those with limp or slimy leaves.

Leeks – Leeks look like large, overgrown scallions with a fat white tip and wide green leaves. See my blog post on “what is a leek” to find out how to wash and cut them correctly. Their flavor is sweeter and stronger than scallions, but milder than common bulb onions. Leeks can be baked, braised or grilled as a side dish, or used to season stocks, soups or sauces.

Shallots

Shallots are shaped like small bulb onions with one flat side. When peeled, a shallot separates into multiple cloves, similar to garlic. They have a mild, yet rich and complex flavor. Shallots are the basis of many classic sauces and meat preparations; they can also be sauteed or baked as a side. Choose shallots that are plump and well shaped. Avoid those that appear dry or have sprouted.

Chives – Are perhaps the most delicate and sophisticated members of the onion family. Their hollow, thin grass-green stems grow in clumps and produce round, pale purple flowers, which are used as a garnish. They have a mild onion flavor and bright green color. They should not be cooked for long periods or at high temperatures. Chives make an excellent garnish when snipped with scissors or carefully chopped and sprinkled over finished soups or sauces.

Beer Crusted Six-Onion Pizza

Makes Four 12″ pizzas

For the dough:

  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 1/4 oz package active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm beer
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

For the onion puree and compote:

  • 5 tpsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 sprigs thyme
  • 2 large white onions, very thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • kosher and and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz. leeks, white part only, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 8 oz. shallots, very thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 8 oz. red onions, very thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 8 oz. finely grated pecorino
  • 5 scallions, very thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch chives, thinly sliced

1. In a large bowl, stir together honey, yeast, and 1/4 cup water, heated to 115; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Stir in beer and oil until smooth. Add flour and salt; stir with a wooden spoon until dough forms.

Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 8 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2-2 hours.

2. Meanwhile, make the onion puree: Heat 2 tbsp. oil, thyme, white onions, bay leaf, and salt and pepper in a 12″ skillet over medium low heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft but not browned, about 30 minutes. Remove and discard thyme stems and bay leaf. Transfer onions to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth; set aside.

3. Make the onion compote: heat 1 tbsp. oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat; add leeks, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft but not browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Heat remaining oil in skillet, add shallots and red onions, and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender and lightly browned, about 18 minutes. Transfer to bowl with leeks, and stir to combine; set aside.

4. Uncover dough and cut into quarters; shape each quarter into a smooth ball. Lightly flour dough balls and transfer to a floured 9″ x 13″ baking pan; cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Heat oven to 500 degrees.

5. Place 1 piece dough on a lightly floured work surface and flatten with your fingertips. Pick up dough circle and gently feed edges of dough between your thumbs and forefingers, letting the weight of the dough stretch edges until the circle of dough is 12″ in diameter. Place dough circle on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and working quickly, spread about 2 tbsp. onion puree over dough,

leaving a 3/4″ border around edge; sprinkle evenly with about 1/4 cup onion compote. Sprinkle one quarter of the pecorino over onions, and transfer to oven. Bake until browned and crisp at the edges, about 12 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough balls, puree, compote, and pecorino. Sprinkle each pizza with one-quarter each of the scallions and chives before serving.

FLAVOR is what cooking is all about! This wonderful sweet and savory pizza showcases the flavor of six kinds of onions! Enjoy!