What I have to offer you this evening is not for the faint of heart, ladies and gentlemen. It requires a keen appreciation for two of the world’s tastiest things, mushrooms and cheese. Do you have that appreciation? Yes? Good.

This is one serious pizza, though it has not-so-serious origins. Jimmy and I were scrounging around for dinner, wanting to get something done fast so we could watch old episodes of Star Trek (we’re so close to the tribbles episode!), and he suggested pizza because we had a spare crust lying around. Typically I make crust from scratch, but we were short on time last week and bought a two-pack of wheat crusts.

We also happened to have dried shiitakes and fresh farmer’s-market oyster ‘shrooms, so we got to thinking about the possibilities. A few minutes later we’d run to the store and grabbed a few tasty additions, and then I made this up on the fly while watching that episode where everybody gets really old for some reason. (Sadly, The Shat aged better in that episode than he did in real life, but we still love you!)

This thing is goooooood. Good enough that even though we’re watching calories, and even though I’ve been the Portion Police for the last few weeks, we both acknowledged after the first bite that we were going to demolish the whole thing. And we did. Three earthy flavors of mushrooms, studded with melty tidbits of gorgonzola and sweet, sticky balsamic glaze? Heaven. The beautiful thing about it is that you absolutely don’t have to do it as written; substitute or add or subtract, just do whatever you like. This time, at Jimmy’s insistence, we used a tomato-based sauce, but in future I think I’d either use pesto, or skip the sauce altogether and put down a foundation layer of caramelized onions.

Also, it looks much more difficult and time-consuming than it actually is, which is always a plus, right?

Kate’s Three-Mushroom Three-Cheese Pizza
serves 4, probably

2 Tbsp olive oil
8 oz sliced cremini (“baby bella”) or white mushrooms
big handful dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms (if dried, rehydrate before cooking)
big handful oyster mushrooms
thyme to taste
salt and black pepper
your preferred pizza sauce and crust (note: we used marinara, but in future I would try pesto or caramelized onions in place of sauce!)
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 or 2 oz. fontina cheese, shredded
1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp cornstarch
sprig fresh rosemary, leaves chopped

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. If using a pizza stone, place in oven.

2.. Heat the oil in a large skillet (cast-iron if possible) over medium heat. Lightly sauté mushrooms until they have released their juices and shiitakes are tender. Season with thyme, salt and pepper to taste.

3. While mushrooms are cooking, combine balsamic vinegar, honey, sugar, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk together and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until mixture is thick and syrupy, about 6-8 minutes.

4. Assemble the pizza. (Sometimes we use a stone; other times, we use a perforated-bottom pizza pan, which lets the air circulate and crisp the crust.) People fall into different camps as far as order, but we like sauce, then cheese, then mushrooms, then rosemary, then drizzle the glaze artfully over the whole thing. Try to resist dunking your fingers in the leftover glaze, at least until it cools a little. (It’s hard.)

5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and beginning to brown and your crust is baked. (If you’re using a homemade crust, you may need a different temperature/duration; go with your crust recipe’s instructions. In general, though, hotter is better.)

6. Devour. Get back on the diet bandwagon tomorrow.