Pizza is a globally popular food item. There are numerous varieties of pizza, the most popular of which is the Italian variant, from which the dish originated. Greek pizza is an additional popular pizza variety that you have probably seen on restaurant menus.
Pizza is not typically connected with the cuisine of Greece. Thus, you will inevitably inquire, what is Greek pizza? And how does this pizza differ from the other pizza options commonly found on restaurant menus?
How is Greek-style pizza different?
There are several significant distinctions between traditional pizza and Greek pizza. Most significant is its preparation and preparation method. Greek pizza is created differently than classic Italian pizza, which is stretched and then baked on a flat pizza pan, typically in a brick oven.
A number of Greek immigrant groups in America created a pizza with a Greek-style crust. Greek pizza derives its moniker from the fact that the pizza in these establishments was prepared differently than its Italian counterpart. Surprisingly, the secret is not the use of classic Greek toppings like feta cheese, but rather its preparation.
Different cooking methods
Greek pizza is often prepared in an electric oven rather than a brick oven, and it is typically fried in a pan before being placed in the hot oven. Moreover, the dough of Greek pizza is distinct. This is typically thicker and doughier than Italian pizza.
Due to the various cooking procedures, the base of your Greek pizza will be much lighter and more spongy than the base of traditional Italian pizza. It has the same consistency and feel of focaccia, however, it is slightly less dense.
Olive oil is utilized in copious amounts during the preparation process. This is done to prevent the dough from sticking to the pan during cooking. We are all aware of how much the Greeks adore olive oil, and due to its superior quality, Greece is one of the world’s leading producers of olive oil. So, it is only logical that this component be incorporated in Greek pizza.
Olive oil may be used on the toppings of classic Italian pizza in order to help crisp the crust’s outermost layer. To keep the pizza from adhering to the brick oven, semolina and cornflour would be utilized. Olive oil is used to prevent sticking because the Greek-style pizza is baked in a pan inside an electric oven.
This excessive usage of olive oil might naturally result in an extremely oily base for Greek pizza. You can eat Greek pizza with a fork if you’d prefer not to get too much olive oil on your hands, unlike most pizzas, which are often eaten with your hands. It can also be placed on paper towels to absorb excess olive oil.
The sauce is another key distinction between Greek and Italian pizzas. In contrast to conventional Italian pizza, which is topped with a rich tomato sauce, the tomato sauce on Greek pizza is notably thinner. This is due to the addition of additional olive oil, or occasionally water. These items are added to slightly thin the sauce.
Typically, the tomato sauce used for Greek pizza is simmered all day on the stove before being applied to the pizza. This causes the ingredients to caramelize around the edges, which then infuses the tomato sauce with its taste.
It is also important to note that Italian and Greek pizza tomato sauces use distinct varieties of tomato. Greek pizza tomato sauce uses tomato paste, whereas Italian tomato sauce uses tomato liquid for seasoning. This contributes to the sauce’s depth of taste and boosts its vitamin and mineral content, including vitamins C and K, as well as iron.
If you don’t like tomato sauce, you can alternatively make Greek pizza with a white sauce as the basis. This will let the traditional Greek tastes come through and will combine well with a side salad.
The dough used for Greek pizza differs significantly from the dough used for conventional Italian pizza. Depending on the recipe, traditional pizza dough is kneaded and allowed to rise for approximately 90 minutes before being topped with a foundation and your preferred toppings.
Greek pizza dough, on the other hand, is produced without kneading and then left to rise overnight. Moreover, the addition of sugar imparts a hint of sweetness to the dough. This overnight rising produces pizza dough that is considerably easier to deal with. As a result, the talent of the pizza maker is not as crucial as it would be for Italian pizza, as the dough is considerably more robust.
Seasonings and flavors
Greek pizza is authentic when it is strongly seasoned. Oregano, basil, and rosemary are some of the most common options, and they can contribute to the pizza’s robust flavor. If you choose a slice of Greek pizza over Italian pizza, you will also detect the impact of traditional Greek flavors. They may consist of feta cheese, olives, oregano, tomatoes, and occasionally bell peppers.
Obviously, this isn’t required for Greek pizza. The production of the dough, the variety of tomato sauce used, and the liberal use of olive oil are the most distinctive characteristics of a Greek pizza. Nonetheless, Greek restaurants and pizzerias may select for these traditional Greek flavors in addition to the fundamental characteristics of Greek pizza to give it a more true Greek taste.
How to make Greek pizza
Greek pizza is a form of pizza that is simple to recreate at home, which is a great feature. Your oven should be able to reach a high enough temperature to cook this pizza, as it will likely not need to reach temperatures as high as a brick oven, which is typically used to cook traditional Italian pizzas.
Also, it is quite simple to produce pizza dough. Only water, flour, sugar, salt, and yeast are required. Remember to combine all of the ingredients, and then let the dough rise overnight. You can then cook it on your pizza pan, if you have one, or in a skillet made of cast iron. Use a substantial amount of olive oil to prevent your pizza dough from sticking to the pan.
You can utilize the classic Greek flavors described in greater detail above, or you can substitute your preferred toppings. The primary distinction between Italian and Greek pizza lies in the preparation of the dough, the tomato sauce, and the cooking process.
Types of cheese used for Greek pizza
The great majority of Greek pizzas are topped with a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar cheese. This can withstand the higher heat required to create a genuine Greek pizza and adds flavor to the meal.
In addition to cheddar and mozzarella, you may also choose to include provolone cheese shreds. This cheese will brown beautifully, providing the desired traditional crisp, cheesy topping.
Likewise, if you desire classic Greek flavors, you can get some delicious feta cheese.
What to have with Greek pizza
Greek pizza is a super-versatile dish, which is one of its greatest advantages. You can pair your Greek pizza with a choice of side dishes to enhance its distinctive flavors. Choosing a light summer salad might help you appreciate the pizza’s bolder flavors and complement the Greek pizza’s flavor profile.
If you want to showcase your Greek flavors, you can choose typical Greek side dishes such as tzatziki, Greek salad, or Greek potatoes grilled in olive oil. These recommendations should help you maximize your true Greek experience.
Regarding beverages, Greek pizza is a diverse dish that pairs well with a variety of options. If you like wine, rosé or white wine would be a wonderful selection. You may choose the traditional Greek wine Retsina or the more popular Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio. You may decide to change the wine you pick to combine with your Greek pizza based on the characteristics of the toppings.
If you prefer beer over wine with pizza, a light ale will be the perfect accompaniment to a slice of Greek pizza.
History of Greek pizza
Pizza is not a classic dish that you will find on the menu of an authentic Greek restaurant, as we’ve already mentioned. Even if you traveled to Greece, you would probably not find this pizza on the menu.
Where then did the phenomenon of Greek pizza originate?
A Greek from Albania is responsible for the invention of Greek pizza. In 1955, Costas Kitsatis, commonly known as “Charlie” to his friends, operated a pizza in Connecticut. Whereas most pizzas were made to order, Costas used a significantly different process. Instead, he would prepare a whole day’s worth of 10-inch pizza crusts in advance. This eventually evolved into the beloved Greek pizza we know and love today.
In the 1980s, over 40 percent of pizzerias in Connecticut were owned by Greeks, owing to the influence of Costas and his innovation of Greek pizza.
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