What Defines A Classic White Pizza?

white pizza
white pizza - Juanmonino/Getty Images

White pizza has earned a dedicated following of those who love it for its simplicity. At its most basic, it is merely a combination of pizza dough cooked with cheese on top. At least, that's the way you'll find it in many Italian American pizzerias. In parts of Italy, however, the dish, also known as pizza bianca, can be just the baked dough served with a bit of olive oil and a touch of salt. There, it's more like a flat take on focaccia.

While some elements of a classic white pizza are up for debate, one thing holds true no matter where you are. A white pizza never has tomato sauce on it. Just look at the name: Pizza bianca means "white pizza" in Italian. Adding tomato sauce makes it a red pizza, a whole different pizza universe. And without tomato sauce, the taste of the cheese shines through; you'll see ricotta and mozzarella, relatively mild cheeses, as the star ingredients in most white pizzas.

Read more: The 101 Best Pizzas In America

Sauce Or No Sauce

A person making a white sauce
A person making a white sauce - Fg Trade/Getty Images

So, there seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to white pizza. Some are simply topped with cheese, olive oil, garlic, and herbs, while others use a white sauce base in addition to the cheese. Both of these styles are classic in their own right. No sauce is great for cheese purists, and adding sauce is an opportunity to bring a bit more flavor to the pie for those who want it.

The traditional sauce for a white pizza is similar to a béchamel sauce. It usually starts with a roux, a cooked mixture of flour and butter. Add milk or cream to this base, followed by garlic, onion, and fresh herbs, such as thyme or marjoram. Some versions of the sauce also include cheese. Parmesan, for instance, would add a pleasant nuttiness, or goat cheese would bring some tanginess to the sauce.

Popular White Pizza Variations

White pizza with mushrooms and chicken
White pizza with mushrooms and chicken - UlianovDmitrii/Shutterstock

The delicate flavors of the white pizza make it the perfect canvas for an array of other ingredients. That may explain why so many variations of the classic white pizza are offered in restaurants and written up in recipes. Sometimes, the twist on the classic is a simple addition of an unexpected cheese choice, like the inclusion of taleggio, a bold and somewhat potent Italian cheese, or fontina, a nutty, buttery cheese.

Vegetables can enhance the flavor of white pizza, too. White pizza with mushrooms is a great pairing. This style also works with various greens, everything from kale to arugula. The sweetness of roasted squash complements the flavors of this pizza style, as does caramelized onions. The saltiness of cured Italian meats gives the pie a nice flavor boost, so add a few slices of mortadella or speck to the top of the pizza right after it comes out of the oven.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.