At first, a pizzafied version of traditional Hungarian cabbage rolls may seem strange. But think about it for a second: the key components of cabbage rolls—tomato sauce, ground meat, and vegetables—are also key components of some of the best pizzas you’ve ever had. The only differences are that the red sauce for cabbage rolls includes vinegar and other vegetables, and the dish is typically made without cheese. For my pizza interpretation, I cooked the meat and sauce separately on the stovetop, then spooned them onto a rolled-out dough disk and topped the whole thing with a heaping cup of shredded Gruyere cheese. Sure, it takes longer to make than most other weeknight pizzas, but it’s much quicker than legit cabbage rolls—and it still manages to capture the same classic flavor.
Deconstructed Meaty Cabbage Roll Pizza
Makes one 12-inch pizza
- 1/4 small head green cabbage, cored and sliced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 large leek, white and light green parts sliced into half-moons, rinsed thoroughly under cold water
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 sliced thick-cut bacon, chopped
- 1 small celery rib (from the center), finely chopped
- 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1-3/4 cups (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 1-1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 (14 to 16-ounce) ball Basic Pizza Dough or Slow-Rise Pizza Dough (or pre-made pizza dough)
- 1/4 pound Gruyere cheese, shredded (1 heaping cup)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Place your pizza stone or steel (if using) on an oven rack in the middle of your oven. If you plan to cook your pizza on a baking sheet, just place a rack in the middle of the oven (you do not need to preheat the baking sheet). Preheat the oven to 500°F (or the highest temperature your oven will allow, if using a pizza stone/steel) and let it heat up for at least 30 minutes while you make the dough and/or prepare the toppings.
To prep the toppings: Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the cabbage and boil for 3 minutes. Drain the cabbage well in a colander and set it aside.
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the leek and cook, stirring frequently, until it softens, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the ground pork, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is no longer pink (5 minutes or so). Stir in the nutmeg, season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove the skillet from the heat.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the chopped bacon just until the fat is rendered and the bacon begins to brown at the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate and add the celery and carrot to the pan. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the broth, crushed tomatoes, caraway seeds, raisins, and vinegar. Bring the mixture to a bubble, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened.
To stretch out the dough: Place the dough on a clean work surface and, using your hands, gently stretch it into a 12-inch square or disk, making sure that it retains the same thickness throughout (more or less).
If you’re using a pizza stone or steel: Dust a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet with flour or cornmeal. Place the dough disk on the prepared peel.
If you’re using a baking sheet: Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the dough disk on the prepared baking sheet.
To top the pizza: Spread 2/3 to ¾ cup of the sauce evenly over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border all around. Top with some of the ground pork mixture (enough to cover the pizza in a thin, even layer), then sprinkle on bacon and cheese.
To bake the pizza: If you’re using a pizza stone or steel, 10 minutes before you are ready to cook the pizza, increase the oven heat to broil. Slide the pizza from the peel (or inverted baking sheet) to the hot stone or steel using quick shimmying movements. Broil the pizza for 6 to 8 minutes until the crust is golden and the cheese begins to brown in spots. Using the peel or inverted baking sheet, transfer the cooked pizza to a cutting board. If you are making more than one pizza, allow the pizza stone or steel to reheat under the broiler for 5 minutes before you cook the next one.
If you’re using a baking sheet, do not increase the oven to broil. Place the baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until the crust is golden and the cheese begins to brown in spots.
Remove the pizza from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with the parsley; slice and serve.