Bacon, Zucchini, and Mozzarella Pizza

Few foods are as satisfying and versatile as a good piece of pizza. If you’re feeling indulgent, you can have a slice topped with multiple meats and/or cheeses. If you’re feeling virtuous, you can have a slice that’s loaded with veggies. Heck, you’re a runner – have one of each!

Or, construct a pizza at home that combines the best of both worlds, like this one from Suzanne Lenzer’s cookbook Truly, Madly, Pizza. (Side note: Best cookbook title ever?) You’ll get some nutrients and fibre from the zucchini and plenty of tastiness from the fresh mozzarella and bacon.

I modified this recipe a bit when I made it. I used more than the recommended two thick-cut slices of bacon, because bacon is amazing. I grilled the pizza instead of baking it. And I bought whole-wheat dough instead of making it from scratch – even though there is a pizza-dough recipe in the book –because I’m in the middle of marathon training and feeling rather lazy.

1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 medium zucchini, cut into ¼-inch rounds
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 ball pizza dough (roughly softball-sized)
85g fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into bite-size pieces
Handful of fresh basil leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 260 degrees. (See note below if you’d prefer to grill yours.)
2. In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon has rendered its fat and is nicely coloured but not crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a small bowl along with a tablespoon or so of the rendered fat (do not blot the bacon on paper towels). Reserve the bacon fat in the skillet.
3. Use the bacon fat in the skillet to cook the zucchini, adding the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil if necessary, and return to medium heat. Add the zucchini, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until it is tender and beginning to brown in places, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
4. Shape the pizza crust until it’s about 10 to 12 inches in diameter and place it on an oiled baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Brush the surface of the crust with the bacon fat in the bowl, leaving about a 1-inch border all around. Scatter the mozzarella over the crust along with the bacon, zucchini, and lots of torn basil leaves.
5. Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the crust is nicely browned and the cheese has melted, 6 to 10 minutes.

*Grilling Instructions: Preheat your grill on high, then follow steps 2 and 3 above. Roll out the dough, brush the top with olive oil or bacon fat, place the oiled side on the grill until the dough sets – about two minutes – then brush oil or bacon fat on the top before flipping, cooking until firm but not completely cooked – another three to four minutes. Then, lower the grill’s heat to medium, add the toppings, and grill, lid-closed, until the cheese melts.

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