The choice to cook broccoli or use it raw on a pizza is largely a matter of personal preference. Steamed broccoli on pizza is soft and cheesy, while raw broccoli adds a sweet, slightly smoky flavor, similar to roasted vegetables. The other option is to saute the broccoli lightly just to make it tender and add a bit of flavor before using it as a topping. Whichever method you choose, add just a handful of broccoli so the pizza cooks evenly.
All Steamed Up
Use steamed broccoli on a pizza if you like a soft, cheesy pizza with a definite broccoli taste. Steam fresh broccoli just until soft. Drain the broccoli well and blot it dry with a paper towel. If the broccoli is wet, the pizza will steam instead of bake in the oven.
For a fresher flavor and crisper texture, go raw. Cut raw broccoli into small pieces, toss them gently with olive oil and add them on top of the other ingredients. As the pizza cooks, the broccoli will become caramelized and sweet. The edges will brown and become slightly crisp, offering only a hint of broccoli flavor, with no sogginess.
The Best of Both Worlds
Sauteing broccoli and other vegetables tenderizes them slightly without making them soggy. Sauteing brings out flavor, too, especially if you add aromatics, such as garlic or red chili pepper to the oil. Saute broccoli briefly in oil and drain well. Blot the broccoli dry before you add it to the pizza.
Become An Expert
Regardless of how you treat broccoli on a pizza, a few extra steps can ensure success. Fresh broccoli tends to work better than frozen broccoli in most cases. Use the heads of the broccoli and just an inch or two of the spears, and cut the broccoli into pieces that are 1/2 inch or less. Crank the heat up to 450 or 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Commercial pizza ovens reach temperatures over 700 F, which is ideal for creating a crispy crust and toppings. Your home oven won't reach this temperature, but high heat evaporates any moisture in the broccoli to prevent sogginess. Use pizza stones, perforated metal pizza pans or even a sheet of parchment paper to cook the pizza. Heavy baking sheets don't allow the crust to brown evenly.
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Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."