I love pizza, although avoid having it very often. It is addictive, and for this very reason quite dangerous — especially for my hips. The recipe that I am sharing with you today is the addictive Shrimp Pizza! Excited?
As in every country in the world, pizza is a word that needs no translation… In Brazil, it is so popular that the city of São Paulo alone has approximately 6,000 pizza establishments, where 1.4 million pizzas are consumed daily. Why? Because that city has the largest number of Italian immigrants and their subsequent descendants. But there is much more to the numbers than meets the eye.
Moreover, there are some national peculiarities that turn the best-known Italian pie very Brazilian. Brazilian pizza in general tends to have a thin crust with little or no tomato sauce, or may even substitute slices of tomato in place of sauce. The toppings merit a whole chapter unto themselves. We are especially creative in this regard, utilizing mostly local ingredients such as seafood, hearts of palm, catupiry cheese, fresh corn, mashed potatoes, grilled sausages and meats, chicken with coconut milk, hard-boiled eggs and olives, etc., to top our savory versions. As for the dessert pizzas (oh, we do have them!!!), pan-fried plantains with cinnamon and sugar, chocolate, Romeo and Juliet (guava paste and cheese), dulce de leche/caramel (doce de leite in Portuguese), strawberries, nutella, and even ice cream are all potential toppings. As crazy or even outrageous as they may sound, our sweet pies are delicious.
To provide a gentle introduction to Brazilian pizza and not scare you off with ultra-exotic toppings, I will behave myself today :). Our first pizza recipe, Shrimp Pizza, will be composed of mostly familiar ingredients. The pizza has a thin crust with mozzarela cheese (Brazil’s preferred cheese for pizza toppings) and a modest amount of tomato sauce. It will be topped with shrimp al aglio e olio, hearts of palm, and a few sliced tomatoes, and then drizzled with dendê oil. Since our shrimp pizza incorporates ingredients from both Italian cuisine (dough, tomato sauce, aglio e olio, parsley) and Brazilian cuisine (shrimp, dendê oil, hearts of palm, cilantro), it is a true Brazilian-Italian fusion dish. To save you time, I used a ready-made pizza dough to make our shrimp pizza — at least this time.
Well, I hope you enjoy our shrimp pizza. As for me, I had better press my self-control button — or repress the scream when stepping on the scales the next day.
Yield: 8 slices
By Denise Browning
Segment: Fusions (Brazil-Italy)
For the Pizza:
1 ready-made pizza dough (I used the Rustic Crust brand one)
2 tablespoons ready-made tomato sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Shrimp al Aglio e Olio (recipe follows)
1 heart of palm (9 slices)**
4 cherry tomatoes, sliced in halves
Palm oil to sprinkle over the topping (optional)**
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
Lemon wedges to serve on the side of the pizza (squeeze lemon over pizza before eating)
** These ingredients are available both at Latin supermarkets and online (including Amazon.com).
For the Shrimp al Aglio e Olio:
2 tablespoons olive oil
A pinch of dried red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 jumbo raw shrimp (peeled, deveined, and tail off)
A pinch of salt
A pinch of ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tbsp tablespoon fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220º C).
2. Place the pizza dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza dough and sprinkle the mozzarella evenly. Arrange the shrimp al aglio e olio, hearts of palm, and tomatoes on the pizza dough. Drizzle the toppings with a little bit of palm oil (optional). Bake for about 10 minutes (or follow instructions on the package of the pizza dough). Remove from oven, sprinkle the chopped cilantro/parsley, and serve immediately with wedges of lemon on the side. Pizza can be accompanied by a fresh salad and a glass of white wine. Enjoy!
3. To prepare the shrimp: In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the red pepper flakes and minced garlic. Sauté for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the shrimp and sauté until it starts to turn pink (about 1-2 minutes). Reduce heat to medium, and add salt, ground pepper, and lemon juice. Let cook for another 30 seconds.
4. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro/parsley. Reserve to use in the shrimp pizza filling.
Note: Both the lemon and the palm oil make this pizza highly flavorful.