1. Mozzarella Cheese
A pizza staple, mozzarella is known for its excellent meltability and mild, creamy flavor. It's the go-to cheese for a classic Margherita pizza.
Mozzarella Cheese History
Originating from Italy, mozzarella cheese has a rich history rooted in the Neapolitan cuisine. Traditionally made from the milk of water buffaloes, it became popular in the 18th century. Mozzarella is celebrated for its soft texture and mild flavor, making it a staple in Italian dishes like pizza Margherita, which itself has a storied origin. The pizza was named after Queen Margherita of Savoy in 1889, symbolizing the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato), white (mozzarella), and green (basil).
This slightly spicy and crispy meat topping is a favorite in many households. It adds a robust flavor to any pizza and pairs well with a variety of cheeses and vegetables.
Pepperoni, though associated with Italian-American cuisine, does not have a direct counterpart in Italy. It evolved in the early 20th century in America, likely influenced by Italian salami varieties like ‘salame piccante’. Pepperoni became popular as a pizza topping in the U.S., known for its bright red color, smoky flavor, and slight spiciness, making it a beloved choice in pizzerias nationwide.
3. Bell Peppers
Offering a sweet and slightly tangy flavor, bell peppers, whether green, red, or yellow, add a crunchy texture and a splash of color to your pizza.
Bell Peppers History
Bell peppers, native to Central and South America, were spread globally by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 17th century. They became integral to many cuisines, including Italian and Mediterranean, where they are often used in pizza toppings. Their sweet and mild flavor, along with their vibrant colors, makes them a popular choice for adding freshness and visual appeal to dishes.
4. Sautéed Mushrooms
Mushrooms, especially when sautéed in garlic and olive oil, bring an earthy depth to pizza. They pair well with both white and red sauces.
Sautéed Mushrooms History
Mushrooms have been savored around the world for centuries, with each culture having its unique way of preparation. Sautéed mushrooms, often used in pizza toppings, have roots in French cuisine, where sautéing is a common cooking technique. This method brings out the earthy flavor of mushrooms, making them a favorite topping in various pizza styles, from classic to gourmet.
5. Goat Cheese
For a tangy twist, add crumbles of goat cheese. It's particularly delightful on pizzas with pesto or white sauce and pairs beautifully with vegetables.
Goat Cheese History
Goat cheese, with its history dating back thousands of years, was likely one of the first dairy products made by early farmers in the Mediterranean region. Its tangy and creamy texture has made it a prized ingredient in various cuisines, especially in French and Greek dishes. On pizza, goat cheese offers a sharp contrast to traditional mozzarella, lending a gourmet touch.
Thin slices of this Italian dry-cured ham add a salty and rich flavor. Prosciutto is perfect atop a pizza with a white sauce base or even just with mozzarella and arugula.
Prosciutto, an Italian dry-cured ham, has a history that dates back to pre-Roman times. Originally made as a way to preserve meat, it has become synonymous with Italian charcuterie. Prosciutto di Parma, from the Parma region of Italy, is among the most famous. Sliced thin and often paired with sweet and savory flavors, prosciutto is a luxurious addition to pizzas.
7. Caramelized Onions
Slow-cooked until sweet and tender, caramelized onions add a depth of flavor that complements both meat and cheese toppings.
Caramelized Onions History
Onions have been a staple in cuisines worldwide for over 5,000 years. Caramelizing onions, a technique of slowly cooking them to bring out natural sweetness, is a culinary method used in many cultures. As a pizza topping, caramelized onions add a rich, sweet depth that complements both meat and cheese toppings.
8. Gorgonzola Cheese
For a bold flavor, sprinkle some Gorgonzola. Its strong, slightly pungent taste is an excellent match for sweeter toppings like figs or balsamic glaze.
Gorgonzola Cheese History
Gorgonzola, one of the world's oldest blue cheeses, originated in Italy around the 9th century. Named after the town of Gorgonzola near Milan, this cheese is known for its strong flavor and blue-green veining. As a pizza topping, Gorgonzola adds a bold, piquant flavor, often balanced with sweet ingredients like honey or figs.
A controversial yet popular choice, pineapple adds a sweet, tangy contrast to savory flavors, especially when paired with ham or bacon for a classic Hawaiian-style pizza.
Pineapple on pizza, known as Hawaiian pizza, surprisingly originated in Canada in 1962, created by Sam Panopoulos. It has since become a polarizing but popular topping globally. The combination of pineapple with ham or bacon offers a unique sweet and savory taste profile, challenging traditional pizza conventions.
10. Figs and Honey
For an unconventional topping, try sliced fresh figs drizzled with honey. This combination is exquisite on a pizza with goat cheese and prosciutto, offering a perfect balance of sweet and savory.
Figs and Honey History
Figs have a rich history, cultivated since ancient times in the Middle East and Mediterranean. Honey, too, has been used as a natural sweetener for millennia. Combining figs and honey on pizza is a relatively modern culinary innovation, offering a sophisticated blend of sweet and savory flavors, often paired with rich cheeses and cured meats for a gourmet experience.