White Pizza

I used to think that white pizza was just sauceless. Maybe the crust would be crisped up with olive oil, then topped with cheese and other toppings. It would still make sense to me as a pizza concept, unlike that horror of horrors– a cheeseless pizza, but I would just assume to call it flat bread if it didn’t have a sweet and spicy tomato sauce.

But I’m married to someone who hails from Youngstown, Ohio where they take their pizza, be it regular or white, very seriously. John knows his Youngstown pizza, having worked at a pizza parlor, in violation of child labor laws as he’ll proudly admit to you. When I told him that I wanted to make a white pizza, he told me that the white pizzas he grew up with weren’t sauceless at all. The crusts were topped with a garlic butter, but somehow, he wasn’t sure how, maybe it was an interaction with the cheese, it would be almost creamy. White pizza was essentially cheesy garlic bread, but somehow, so much more.

So that got me thinking– how could I make a garlicky, buttery, creamy sauce for my white pizza? I suppose I could try making an alfredo sauce, but I found the idea of topping a garlic and cheese sauce with more cheese a little disturbing. I guess that means even I have my cheese limits. Instead, I made a garlicky bechamel sauce, spread that on my crust, then topped it with chopped spinach, slices of prosciutto, and a mix of mozzarella and provolone. I loved the mix of colors– the specks of pink and dark green on a creamy white base, and when baked, the sauce thickened, melding with the cheese and crust, making it almost custardy to contrast with the crispy crust and salty prosciutto. Bellissimo!

  • Your favorite pizza crust, be it home-made, pizza parlor or store-bought, or from a tube.
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1.5 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1.25 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 10 oz frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry in a clean kitchen towel or paper towel
  • 3 oz sliced prosciutto, torn into bite size strips
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella and provolone mix
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, torn

Preheat a pizza stone in the oven, set to 450 degrees F. Roll out pizza dough to 16 inches in diameter and let rest. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the garlic and let the garlic cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in flour and continue to cook for another minute. Turn the heat up to medium high then whisk in milk. Whisk constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Place the crust on a pizza peel or onto the pizza stone to assemble. Brush the crust with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Pour the bechamel sauce on the crust and spread it out until there is a 1/2 inch border of crust. Top with the spinach and prosciutto before covering with the shredded cheese. Place the pizza in the oven on the bottom rack, placed in the lowest setting of your oven. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is spotted brown in places. Top with torn basil before cutting into wedges and serving.

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