A sausage and pepperoni pizza morphs into a festive wreath for the holiday season. Top with a golden-brown dough bow and sprinkle with fresh basil for a dish that's almost too cute to eat.
|2 tablespoons||extra-virgin olive oil|
|2 cloves||garlic, minced|
|1/2||small yellow onion, finely diced|
|1-14.5 ounce||can whole peeled tomato, crushed well|
|1 1/2 cup||loosely packed fresh basil leaves|
|kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper|
|1/2 pound||sweet italian sausage, casings removed|
|2-1 pounds||balls refrigerated pizza dough, at room temperature|
|all-purpose flour, for dusting|
|1/2 cup||sliced pepperoni, roughly chopped|
|1 cup||(about 4 ounces) shredded mozzarella|
|1||large egg, beaten|
|pinch of crushed red chile flakes|
Set a pizza stone or an inverted baking sheet on a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Invert another baking sheet and line it with parchment paper; set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, then the garlic and onion to a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, 1/2 cup basil leaves, 1 teaspoon salt and few grinds of black pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce, uncovered, until the flavors are concentrated and the sauce has thickened, about 25 minutes.
While the sauce cooks, add the remaining tablespoon oil to a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until browned in spots and completlety cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat to cool.
Roll out and stretch the dough into two 12-inch rounds on a lightly floured surface. Use a 3-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter and punch a hole in the center of each round to make rings. (Set aside the holes.)
Put one of the rings onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon all but 1 tablespoon of the sauce on one dough ring in an even layer.Sprinkle over the sausage, pepperoni and all but 1 tablespoon of the mozzarella, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Gently place the other dough ring directly on top, and pinch the edges to seal in the filling.
Use a paring knife, cut 1- to 1 1/2-inch-wide strips into the wreath all around, like rays of the sun. (Be careful not to cut all the way through to the center; the wreath should stay intact and hold its shape once it is baked. You should have about 24 strips total.) Gently turn each strip twice to create a twist, then press the edges down on the parchment. Repeat this motion until all of the strips have been twisted.
To make a bow, roll out and stretch the two dough cut-out holes into 6-inch long rectangles. Top one with the remaining tomato sauce and mozzarella. Place the other dough rectangle directly on top and press to seal the edges. Twist the dough with both hands in opposite directions for one full turn to form a bow that will hold its shape. Press the edges down to seal and set the bow on the prepared baking sheet next to the wreath.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a few drops of water. Use a pastry brush to brush the bow and wreath with the egg wash, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Place the baking sheet with the wreath on top of the preheated stone and bake until the bow is cooked through and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove the bow and continue to bake the wreath until golden brown, firm to the touch and cooked through, about 25 minutes more. Chop the remaining cup fresh basil. Position the bow on the bottom of the wreath, sprinkle basil all over the wreath and top with a pinch of crushed red chile flakes.