Pizza with Pancetta and Broccoli Rabe

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When I was doing faux finishing, my clients would want a room done and think that all I had to do was slap some paint and a little glaze and be done in a few hours. They would nearly faint at my price quote because if I was going to give them a dining room they could love for several years, it would probably take the good part of a week. The prep alone could day a whole day and then the layers in between would have to be applied correctly by hand.

The mere thought process that went into figuring out a bronze and red color scheme that looked like peeled paint that had been there for hundreds of years was daunting because I had to get the colors mixed to match what was in the client’s mind. The worst case scenario was if something was already there and had to be removed, like wall paper or badly painted walls from sloppy contractors.

Pizza with Pancetta Broccoli Rabe

It would have been easier to start fresh, but rarely does one get to do that. And, even with newly built homes, there would be problems with improperly primed walls, badly installed drywall, etc.

I learned that nothing is every simple, even if it’s easy.

Spinach Tiger is moving to word press and this is why I haven’t posted in so long. We knew going in that the move would not be easy because no move ever is, but in the end it will be worth all the work.

The transition is a few weeks away and while I’m idling, I thought I would share another pizza recipe.

The Pizza
My last two pizza posts were fruity, but this is savory, salty and addicting. The combination of broccoli rabe and pancetta is just the thing when you want a real boost of flavor without a red sauce.

Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, should be a staple in every kitchen. It’s a green that is easy to cook and versatile. It’s probably one of the more misunderstood vegetables in all the American land and that’s all due to it’s name. It is nothing like broccoli in flavor or in the way it cooks. It’s in the mustard green family and it has that bitter (but not unpleasant) taste that marries perfectly with garlic, olive oil and a bit of salt and crushed red pepper. It can jump from a pasta to steak sandwich to a grilled cheese to a pizza in mere seconds and spark up your taste buds with flavor that has been described as pungent, tangy, bitter and nutty. We always buy two bunches because one never seems enough after taking that first bite.

Pancetta is an ingredient I thought I would not have to say much about, but according to the new Whole Foods in my area, it is no longer carried because they didn’t sell enough of it. That’s a culinary surprise and tragedy because they had carried the very best pancetta I ever tasted in Tennessee. (Disclaimer: you can still buy it there prepackaged and pre-sliced, but who would do that, as most recipes call for a dice not a slice.

If you can’t find pancetta, use bacon or a crumbled cooked Italian sausage. And, for the vegetarian, broccoli rabe can stand alone as the star ingredient.

This was made on the grill, but you can also bake your pizza in the oven, preheating a pizza stone and getting as high in temperature as your oven will allow.

Pizza Recipe

Tips for Cooking Brocolli Rabe
Trim the stems at least 1/2 inch from the end. I trim the stems all the way to the part where flowers and leaves begin. If you keep the stems, chop into 2 inch pieces and put into boiling water 3 minutes before adding in rest of broccoli rabe.

These are the stems you will need to discard. They will remain stringy and chewy, unlike broccoli.

Season properly. The bitter and pungent flavor needs accessorizing. Garlic, salt, and heat achieve this. Some even use anchovies in their base to get that saltiness. I prefer the use of pecorino romano (which is a very salty, yet creamy grating cheese).

Pizza with Pancetta Broccoli Rabe
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Pizza with Pancetta and Broccoli Rabe

A thin crust pizza with pancetta and broccoli rabe with an amazing pizza crust adapted from Marcella Hazan.
Prep Time2 hours
Cook Time8 minutes
Total Time2 hours 8 minutes
Course: Pizza
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Author: Angela Roberts


  • pizza dough
  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe
  • olive oil enough to cover bottom of pan and more for adding in later
  • 1-2 cloves thinly sliced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup pancetta diced
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese grated or crumbled
  • salt and pepper


  • Prepare pizza dough.
  • Preheat grill a high as you can get it or put pizza stone in oven and preheat at 450 for 30 minutes.
  • Rinse and trim stems up to leafy area. Discard bottom inch of stem. You can maintain stems, by cutting them in 2 inch pieces and cooking a little earlier. I usually don’t keep stems. . If you keep the stems, chop into 2 inch pieces and put into boiling water 3 minutes before adding in rest of broccoli rabe.
  • Submerge in large pot of boiling water for 5 minutes. Place in ice bath to keep green color, while preparing next step.
  • Saute pancetta in medium heat frying pan until fat in rendered and it’s is cooked through. Remove from pan and use same pan to saute broccoli rabe.
  • Saute garlic in same pan used to cook pancetta. Drain broccoli rabe and cut into 3 inch pieces and saute for a few minutes. Add red pepper flakes and salt to taste.
  • Assemble pizza.
  • Roll out dough to the size of dinner plate. Arrange mozzarella cheese, pancetta, and broccoli rabe.
  • Bake for 8 minutes or until bottom is crisp.

Please follow me on instagram. If you make this recipe,  please tag me #spinachtiger.

If you love this recipe, please give it five stars. It means a lot. xoxo


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  1. Loving the new look Angela. I imagine your kitchen in Nashville to be as clean and , uncluttered as well as gilled with delicious recipes and tantalizing photos as these pages:D

  2. Moving indeed is never easy! I’m moving to a new server with all my websites next week and am already dreading the result.. It should be no problem but you know how things tend to go that are ‘no problem’!
    I love a good home made pizza and this sure looks great!
    But… you say you’re moving to wordpress in a few weeks but isn’t this wordpress now? The commenting system is definitely different as well as some other things..

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