Why You Should Par-Cook Veggie Toppings For Tastier Pizza

Growing up, a veggie supreme pizza wasn't every kid's favorite version of the pie. Even now, trial and error of making homemade veggie pizzas can develop a distaste for the toppings. However, the outcome of the pizza may have nothing to do with the toppings themselves, but how they're prepared. For the best homemade veggie-topped pizza, par-cook your vegetables beforehand.

If you've ever thrown veggies onto your pie right before placing it in the oven, then you'll know that the method doesn't particularly work. While some veggies come out severely undercooked, the pizza itself could end up being too browned in an effort to cook them longer. In between the pieces of semi-raw veggies are spots of soggy pizza. In a perfect world, making a veggie pizza would be as easy as putting them on the pie and moving on with your day, but different cook times make that impossible.

Homemade pizzas don't take long to bake in the oven; within 15 minutes, they should be done. But that's only going to work if heartier vegetables used for toppings are cooked partially before they're added. This not only ensures that they're all properly cooked by the time you take the pizza out of the oven, but it infuses them with their own individual flavors that enhance the overall taste. Sauteing onions before they finish caramelizing in the oven gives the pizza a sweeter flavor. You can also grill carrots and peppers prior to baking for a smokier taste.

Do all vegetables need to be par-cooked for pizza?

Any vegetable that requires a longer cooking time than pizza needs to be par-cooked beforehand. This can range from hardier vegetables such as beets or sweet potatoes to vegetables with a high water content. To invigorate your pizza with the umami goodness of mushrooms, for example, par-cooking them releases some of the water, which strengthens their taste.

While leafy greens do contain a lot of water, not all of them need to be cooked before baking. Spinach and arugula, for example, wilt easily. Fifteen minutes in the oven at a high heat is enough for them to dry out. For heartier greens like kale or mustard greens, blanching and sauteing them can get rid of the bitterness and help to soften them.

From there, you can add the toppings to the pizza as normal. Seasoning the veggies helps boost flavor, but don't stop there. Adding herbs and spices to the dough when making homemade pizza crust will enhance the taste of your pie. Add aromatics based on the types of toppings you're using. While your onions and carrots are roasting in the oven, add crushed thyme, smoked paprika, and garlic powder to the dough. Seasonal pies like a roasted pumpkin and sausage ricotta pizza require something headier — spring for warming spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, or ginger.