Sausage, Fennel & Goat Cheese Pizza

Sausage and fennel, fennel and sausage – two of my favorite flavor combinations and they happen to be reminiscent of fall, too.  Fennel sausage in your turkey stuffing?  Yes, please.  This recipe isn’t exactly a Thanksgiving dish but it’s a great one to serve whenever you are entertaining guests this holiday season or as an appetizer to your Turkey Day meal because it’s relatively easy and the first few steps can be done ahead of time, making it simple to throw together and heat as guests arrive.  I love goat cheese for it’s creamy and tangy factor but if you aren’t a fan then fee free to substitute for another creamy cheese instead.  Maybe fontina or even pepperjack.  Something that will melt but not run.  Enjoy the holidays and most of all enjoy your time with family and friends with this super easy dish to make it all simple.
  1. Remove sausage from casing and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, breaking into small pieces with a wooden spoon as it cooks.  Remove sausage from the pan but leave the fat.  Add in the sliced fennel to the same pan and a teaspoon of olive oil, if needed, and cook fennel until translucent but not to the point of mushy.  Approximately 4 minutes.  Remove from pan.  This step can be done ahead and refrigerated for several hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 500 degrees and place a sheet pan or pizza stone in the oven.  Roll out the pizza dough into 1 large or 2 medium pizzas.   Roll it pretty thin. I find it easier to work with getting the dough onto the pan if I do the 2 medium instead of one large. Spread the pesto in a thin layer evenly on the pizza(s).  Top with the cooked sausage and fennel in an even layer and then the goat cheese.  Carefully transfer to the hot sheet pan or pizza stone and cook for 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven, until gold brown on the crust.
  3. Cut pizza as desired and top with the fresh fennel fronds and shaved parmesan.

1 pkg fresh pizza dough (approximately 11 oz)
2 spicy or mild Italian sausages, uncooked
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced (core removed), fronds reserved (approximately 1 ½ cups loosely packed)
3 oz fresh goat cheese
1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 teaspoons pesto     
Shaved parmesan

Serves 4

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