The origins of pizza date back to the 6th century BC, and various forms of the dish are now enjoyed in virtually every part of the world. Italian immigrants introduced pizza to the United States in the 1800s, and it has since become a staple of the American diet. Although pepperoni and other meats are popular on pizza, vegetable toppings are also common and provide infinite possibilities for flavor and texture.
Because pizza is baked at high temperatures, chopped fresh vegetables work well as toppings. By the time the dough is baked and the cheese has melted, the vegetables are cooked as well. Larger chunks of vegetables that take longer to soften can be used for a crunchier, more textured pizza. Mushrooms, spinach, garlic, asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes and basil leaves are common fresh vegetable toppings. Some toppings, such as sliced tomato, may be added after the pizza has baked to maintain the vegetable's fresh flavor and texture.
Canned or Marinated Vegetables
Many people avoid canned vegetables because they tend to be mushy and flavorless. However, some types of canned or marinated vegetables in jars provide flavors and textures that complement pizza. Canned olives, mushrooms and artichokes hearts are some of the most common toppings in this category. Marinated vegetables, such as eggplant, asparagus and sundried tomatoes, can be purchased in jars and are easily added to pizza before baking. Marinades add intense flavor for a richer pizza.
Roasting vegetables over very high heat caramelizes the vegetables' natural sugars and produces a mild, sweet flavor. Any sharp or bitter flavors in the raw product are typically eliminated with roasting. Bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, onions or almost any other type of vegetable can be tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then added to a pizza before or after baking. Whole heads of garlic can also be roasted, which turns the individual cloves into a mild, flavorful paste that can be spread over the pizza before baking.
In countries around the world, pizza toppings are determined by the local cuisine and personal taste. In India, for example, pickled ginger is sometimes added to pizza. Sweet corn and peas commonly top pizzas in Europe and Japan. The Japanese are also known to add potatoes and pimiento to their pizzas. Culinary experts and home chefs across the globe experiment with endless varieties of vegetables and ways of preparing them in order to create pizzas that are unique, flavorful and appealing.
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