Herrera-Pizza a la Latina-MainPhoto

Herrera-Pizza a la Latina-MainPhoto
Pizza, pizza, pizza. The all-American, non-American favorite food.

There was a time I was unimpressed with the idea of ordering one when friends gathered, let alone making my own. I’ve not had a mind-blowing pie in recent jaunts. And the lack of appeal has limited my baking to seven times my entire life.

I specifically remember having a Pizza Margherita in Rome and being blown away, thinking, Sheesh, we Americans have it all wrong.

Those thoughts of traveling through Italy, speaking Italian, and trying such incredible food on just about every corner, inspired me to make my own more often. Also, if I was going to transition into a full out love affair with pizza, I needed to control pizza to my taste, from crust thickness to the sauce base. So if you think about it, creating one is fun challenge. The possibilities are endless. It’s literally a pie with all the toppings your palate loves.

If you’re adventurous at home, making pizza can change your perception of a simple pie. Start with the season. Consider what’s in and then move on to what you simply love.

In debating having a pizza party for Memorial Day…a spicy, Latin-inspired creation comes to mind. Jalapeños are common on pizzas but habaneros are quite the rave now. Instead of mozzarella, queso fresco or even cotija would hum love songs! There’s even room for a sweet note. Imagine guava or roasted mangos! They’re unique toppings and add some vibrancy. But the kicker has to be the dough. Think of abuelita’s bread or tortilla recipe and apply it. You’ll be in baking business thanks to tried-and-true recipes. After all, since pizzas are a clean slate for being creative, a solid recipe can only yield a memorable slice of hot, cheesy bread. And then you’ll want to make it again.

With summer a few weeks away, I’m already envisioning over-the-top 16” rounds. I’ll tease you with visions of guacamole-fused pie. How’s that for falling in love with pizza? While you ponder your own, here’s one of my favorites I’ve come to enjoy baking at home.

Read Related: A Conversation with Rick Rodgers: Soft Tacos with Chipotle Carnitas

Serves: 8

12″ pizza crust (you can make your own dough our buy a nice brand pre-made dough)
1 16 oz can herbed whole or diced tomatoes
8 oz your favorite Hispanic white cheese
1¼ cup carnitas, cubed
½ cup yellow onion
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP green olives, sliced
1 TBSP garlic
½ TSP cumin
4 sprigs of fresh cilantro, parted
Pinch of salt


  1. Roll out pizza dough until you have a nice round and even pie. Pinch your crust to desired thickness.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°.
  3. Bake dough for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.
  4. In large skillet, heat olive oil. Add beef, onions, cumin and salt. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes or until meat is medium-well. Remove from heat.
  5. In processor, blend tomatoes and garlic until broken down to a sauce.
  6. Using pastry brush, cover edges and base with olive oil. Evenly spread tomato sauce on pie top. Spread cheese evenly.
  7. Top with carnitas. Evenly sprinkle green olives and cilantro.
  8. Bake pizza for 8-10 minutes or until desired toasty crust is achieved and dough is fully cooked.