While the yeasty pizza dough rises, prepare the savory topping.
1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced fennel bulb (about 4 small bulbs)
2 cups thinly sliced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup bottled tomato-basil pasta sauce (such as Classico)
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives
How to Make It
To prepare dough, dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl, and let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 3/4 cups flour and salt, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel tacky).
Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (Press two fingers into the dough. If an indentation remains, dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down; knead 5 times, and let rest for 15 minutes. Roll dough into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface. Place dough on a (12-inch) pizza pan or baking sheet coated with cooking spray and sprinkled with cornmeal. Crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim.
To prepare the topping, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add the fennel and the next 5 ingredients (fennel through black pepper), and cook for 20 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently.
Preheat oven to 450°.
Spread sauce over crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border; sprinkle with fennel mixture, cheese, and olives. Bake at 450° for 18 minutes or until browned.
Fennel bulbs are abundant, fresh, and inexpensive right now so thought I would try this for our Friday night pizza. Loved it....very different flavors...the fennel and onions were so sweet. I garnished the pizza with chopped fennel fronds which made it very attractive. I agree with the other reviewer....just a small sprinkling of cheese is necessary. I wonder how it would taste without the red sauce....I might try it again without, or perhaps a white sauce.
The topping is piled high, making this like a deep dish-style pizza. Fantastic flavor from the sweet caramelized fennel and salty olives - so much so, I think the mozzarella may be unnecessary, and I almost never say such a thing! The dough was a touch too floury; i'd use a lighter hand kneading next time.