I think I can guess what you just said to yourself. Is it, “What! Carrots and walnuts don’t belong on a pizza?” Well, actually, they do. I wish I could take credit for this incredible combination, but it actually comes from a pizza place in Cambridge, Massachusetts. While working as a TA during graduate school, my dad tried it during a pizza-fueled marathon exam grading session. Years later, it has become a mainstay for our homemade pizzas. Unfortunately, I think we’re the last surviving makers of Carrot-Walnut pizzas—we haven’t been able to find the pizzeria that sells such a pizza in Cambridge, and I will never know what the original tasted like.
Once baked, the grated carrots get firmly anchored to the crust and cheese and blister slightly under the intense heat of the oven. The walnuts, too, toast gently and taste sweeter alongside the carrots, which manage to minimize the traditionally bitter mouth feel of walnuts. And the best part is that when sliced, the toppings stay on the pizza. My biggest pizza pet-peeve is when the cheese refuses to stay on the pizza. Luckily, that is nowhere near the case for this recipe.
Underneath the toppings is a thin layer of a freshly made tomato sauce, full of garlic and basil. It only takes a few extra minutes of work to make homemade sauce, and it is worth it every time. Delicious toppings and a phenomenal sauce only need one more thing for this pizza to reach restaurant quality, and that is a pizza stone. Once preheated, it works quickly enough to allow the crust to be crisp on the bottom yet not cracker-like.
If I still haven’t convinced you that Carrot-Walnut pizza is worth your time, maybe my brother can. Every time we make pizza, his only toppings are carrot and walnuts, and after devouring the entire pizza, he sits back and remarks, “I am always amazed by how well carrots and walnuts go together on pizza. It’s just so good.”
Who knows, maybe someday these toppings will be back in action at local pizzerias, but for now, I hope you’ll try it at home.
Makes 4, 12 inch pizzas, which will serve 4 teenagers or 8 adults
1 ½ cups warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour (try to get a low protein flour like Pillsbury or Gold Medal)
2 teaspoons table salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
28 oz. can diced tomatoes, pulsed until smooth in the food processor
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Cornmeal, for dusting the pizza peel
16 oz. part-skim, low-moisture mozzarella cheese, grated on the large holes of a box grater
3 carrots, grated on the large holes of a box grater
1 cup walnuts, chopped
- For the dough: Mix the water, yeast, sugar, and oil in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let the yeast proof until bubbly for 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt and mix on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and knead until smooth and shiny, 6-8 minutes. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, 45-60 minutes.
- For the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the garlic cloves and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds. Pour in the tomatoes and salt and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, until slightly thickened. Off heat, stir in the basil and set the heat aside.
- 30-45 minutes before baking the pizza, place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 500F.
- Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured work surface and divide into 4 equal pieces. Roll each dough ball out into a 12 inch circle, then transfer to a pizza peel dusted with cornmeal. Spread ½-2/3 cup sauce into an even layer onto the dough, leaving a ¼ inch border along the edges. Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella in an even layer on top of the sauce. Next, spread ½ cup of the grated carrots all over the pizza, then finish with ¼ cup of chopped walnuts all over the carrots.
- Slide the pizza from the peel onto the preheated baking stone, then bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown, rotating halfway through baking. Transfer to a cutting board, let sit for about a minute, then slice and serve. Repeat steps 4 and 5 with the remaining ingredients to make 3 more pizzas.
Note: If you do not have a pizza peel or a pizza stone, spread a baking sheet with cornmeal, then place the rolled out dough on the baking sheet and top as described in step 4 and continue with the rest of the recipe.