Spinoccoli Pizza


Bloomington, Indiana – my hometown, my college town, and in my opinion, one of the greatest little towns in the midwest.  I could never even begin to name all the things that make me love that place so much.  Thankfully since our families still live there and it is only an hour away, we visit frequently and try to work in trips to our favorite restaurants whenever possible.  One that belongs near the top of that list is Mother Bear’s Pizza.  They have all sorts of wonderful gourmet pizzas, as well as fantastic breadsticks that make the best snack ever after a night out at the bars (not that I would know anything about that ;)), but of all their pizzas Ben and I will always love spinoccoli best.  This is a pizza with a white sauce, plenty of cheese, topped with spinach and broccoli.  It may sound like an odd combination to some, but we think it is the best.  In fact, this has been my birthday dinner of choice with my family for the past few years.

The more comfortable I become in the kitchen, the more confident I am in my ability to recreate a restaurant dish at home.  However, sometimes the restaurant version is just so darn good that I am afraid to even attempt it, because I am sure whatever I make will fall far short of the real thing.  That was the case with spinoccoli.  But after we had a recent date night at Mother Bear’s, I decided enough was enough – I should at least give it a shot.  Because if it worked, we could have spinoccoli at home, which would be heavenly.  I always wondered if they did precooked the veggies in any way before adding to the pizza.  One benefit of being from a small town is that our family knows the owner of Mother Bear’s.  My brother was on a softball team with him this year and asked that very question.  We learned that no, they don’t do anything to the veggies.  So with that knowledge, I set out to make my best approximation of spinoccoli at home.  And guess what?  It totally worked.  With my first bite I was blown away with just how close my version came.  In fact, Ben and I both agreed that the only real difference we could taste was the crust because I used my usual favorite and we like it better anyway.  Otherwise, this was right on.  I’ll definitely still order spinoccoli whenever I’m in B-town but it is a revelation being able to make it at home as well.

Spinoccoli Pizza
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Ingredients:
For the white sauce:
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
¾ cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1 clove garlic, smashed
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the pizza:
Pizza dough
Olive oil, for brushing
½ cup packed baby spinach leaves, torn
1 cup very small broccoli florets
2 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
2 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
Grated Parmesan

Directions:
To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until bubbling and light golden, about 1 minute.  Whisk in the heavy cream and garlic, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and bubbles.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the grated Parmesan until completely melted and smooth.  Discard the garlic clove.  (Note: This will make a bit more sauce than you need for the pizza, but with a little extra cheese it makes a great dipping sauce for crust.)

To make the pizza, preheat the oven and a pizza stone at 500˚ F for at least 30 minutes.  Roll out the pizza dough into a 12-14 inch round.  Lightly brush the perimeter of the dough with olive oil.  Spread a thin layer of the white sauce over the crust, leaving a border clear around the edge for the crust.  Sprinkle the torn spinach leaves over the white sauce.  Evenly distribute the broccoli florets over the dough.  Layer evenly with the shredded mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.  Finish with additional grated Parmesan, if desired.  Transfer the pizza to the preheated pizza stone and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Source: Annie original, inspired by Mother Bear’s Pizza

61 Responses

  1. It sounds delicious! I love white sauce pizza’s. My husband loves broccoli, although I may need to add some chicken or diced ham to get him to try it as a main dish. 😉 Great recreation!

  2. My husband’s family all went to IU and still visit Bloomington frequently, however their favorite pizza from there is Cafe Pizzaria. We ate there last year on our way way to Elkhart for Christmas, but now that we have moved back to Indiana I will have to give Mother Bear’s a try next time we are in town!

  3. wow, what a pizza! i should try to recreate restaurant dishes more often also

  4. Yum! My eyebrows went way up when I just saw the title… then I saw the picture. Oh yeah, I will be trying this one for sure!

  5. Delicious…nothing we love more than cheese and bread…! Oh and that white sauce?! YUM!

  6. Great post and the pizza sounds wonderful!

  7. This is one of Michael’s favorite things to eat in Bloomington. Maybe I’ll finally be inspired to roll out my own pizza dough at home! Thanks, Annie!

  8. That’s awesome you were able to recreate the dish! I can’t wait to make this!

  9. I am from Indiana and I went to grad school at IU-Bloomington and I frequently tell people where I live now how wonderful the food is there!

  10. Spinoccoli Pizza!!!! How I miss B-town and Mother Bears!!! Thanks for posting this. I will be making this for dinner next week!!!

  11. This pizza looks amazing!!!! I’ve never tried spinach and broccoli on pizza before, but will definitely have to try. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. Annie – I can’t wait to try this…Just want to tell you I made your chicken marsala and Rigatoni Di Gregario. Fabulous! I had precooked the chicken for the pasta dish and was sitting down to the table in a half hour eating a wonderful meal. this is just the ticket when coming home from work. Thanks so much. They are both keepers!

  13. This morning on my way to work, I was thinking about how much I miss Bloomington! I’d move back in a heartbeat, I 100% agree that it’s one of the best small towns in the country! We usually went to Aver’s, but when we were out at the bars, Mother Bear’s was our choice. This pizza reminds me of such great times 🙂

  14. Yum! Sounds like an amazing flavor combo : )

  15. I love all your pizzas recipes! Thanks for sharing!

  16. I love recreating fun recipes from the past. I did my favorite college pizza, as well. This one looks wonderful. I will definitely have to make this for Michael!

  17. Hi! Can’t wait to make this TONIGHT! Is this recipe just enough for 1 pizza or 2?

  18. I love Broccoli and spinach on pizza but have never had them together! I’ve got to make this now!

  19. that’s awesome that you were able to recreate a restaurant favorite! spinoccoli sounds like my kind of pizza, yum!

  20. The combination of spinach and broccoli gets me every time. Your version looks fabulous!

  21. These don’t sound like odd ingredients at all to me. As frequent at-home pizza makers, Peter and I will try this. We even have a ball of pizza dough in the freezer!

  22. This looks amazing! We have pizza every Friday night, so I am always on the lookout for new ways to make it. This is going to be our Friday night pizza this week 🙂

  23. Looks absolutely delicious! I like to make my own pizza too – it’s often as good as restaurant quality!

  24. What perfect timing, we are going to Bloomington this weekend!!! (Every member of my immediate family went to IUB) This just made me 10x more excited about our trip! Nicks here we come! Maybe we’ll stop at Mother Bears and get a Hairy Bear, or Beaver 🙂 with our pizza!

    • I think you mean Bear’s Place. That’s the bar with Hairy Bears. Mother Bear’s is the pizza place down the street.

  25. Looks delicious! I love spinach on pizza, but haven’t tried broccoli yet!

  26. Sounds and looks wonderful!

  27. Annie Im glad you finally made this and that it turned out well. I just wanted to remind you of a famous quote,
    “Bacon. I like to eat bacon on Christmas.”
    -Davy

    • Steven, I love you. I am looking forward to some equally ridiculous quotes from you guys come holiday giveaway time 🙂

  28. LOVE Bloomington, LOVE Mother Bear’s! One of my favorite parts about Mother Bear’s menu was the goldfish crackers on the salad and the fact that they served the salad in one bowl inside a larger bowl knowing the contents of the salad would spill out as you ate. Great post – I’ll have to try this pizza soon, perhaps with a side of a goldfish adorned house salad 😉

  29. Tasty white sauce. Lovely pizza…looks delicious.

  30. Annie, this looks really really good to me right now – I think Caroline would love it too – she loves “trees” and “greeen” 🙂

  31. Let me start by saying that I love love love your blog!!!! Your photos are as beautiful as the food is yummy! 🙂

    I have a pizza stone but have only attempted to use it once because I can’t seem to figure out how to transfer my masterpiece from the counter to the stone without destroying it…..any tips?

  32. yum! this looks fantastic. i can’t wait to try it!

  33. Looks amazing- and I LOVE the name!

  34. This looks wonderful. I have never had broccoli on pizza before but went out and bought the ingredients so it is on the list for Thursday or Friday. Thanks!

  35. That looks amazing! I love broccoli and spinach on pizza, together they must be great!

  36. A yummy pizza in the midst of the upcoming cook-a-thon preparations! Good idea! Love that you created a pizza from a version that you love!

  37. YUM, YUM, YUM! You are totally making me miss Indiana (the state AND the school)! Mother Bear’s is the BEST. I lived on 3rd Street and this was definitely a place we frequented A LOT! Oh, those breadsticks. Please learn to make those and share that recipe!

    And, @Anna Maria, I totally forgot about the goldfish crackers in the salads and the two wooden bowls.

    We must make a trip out of California and get back home SOON! Thanks again for sharing!

  38. Holy cow, Annie! I had no idea you were a fellow Bloomingtonian! The question must be asked: North or South? I was South ’05.

    I love Mother Bears! I grew up on Jordan Ave, just a few blocks away from it. Mother Bears was our go to pizza up until high school (at which point we switched to Avers because Mother Bears didn’t usually stay open late enough).

    I actually went to Mother Bears on one of my last nights in Bloomington before coming here to Phuket, Thailand. After reading your post, it may be one of the first things I do when I get back to Bloomington in a few weeks (I hope) as well 😀

  39. I made this pizza last night for my sister who was in town to visit from med school and it was a huge hit! My husband was a little scepticle of the broccoli on the pizza but ended loving every bite of it!
    Thanks for sharing so many amazing recipies and tips with all of us! I love your blog!

  40. You’re right Annie, it’s obviously been too long! Must re-orient myself. I was one of those rare co-eds who didn’t eat pizza regularly, but obviously drank regularly!! Can’t wait to try more recipes!

    • Well, they did make it very confusing having two places with “Bear” in the name and logo within one block of each other. I’m a townie and it took me years to get them straight!

  41. It makes me so happy when you post things about Bloomington! I loooooved Mother Bears. We spent many nights there during grad school, drowning our thesis sorrows in pizza and beer.

    I look forward to your version of Sports Tye-dye Iced Tea 😉

  42. Do you use fresh Broccoli and Fresh spinach for this pizza?

  43. It is a wonderful thing when you nail your favorite restaurant dish like this. And this is one of our favorite types of pizza with the spinach, white sauce and cheese.

  44. You should give Bruno’s up in West Lafayette a try… 😉

  45. I made this pizza tonight and it was AMAZING! I used my own crust recipe with it. I had never had any kind of pizza like it before. This is my new favorite pizza and I will be making it often. Thanks for sharing this recipe. : )

  46. Made this last night and it was SO good! We loved it and will definitely make it again. Thank you!

  47. Made this last night and LOVED it. Had the leftovers today and now I want to make another pizza with my dough that’s in the freezer. This pizza might be the death of me. 🙂

  48. I was wondering what brand of instant yeast you use for the pizza dough? I made the mistake of purchasing active dry yeast, then all I could find was a pizza dough yeast, which didn’t work correctly either.

    • The brand doesn’t matter at all but I think I use Fleischman’s. You can use active dry, you just have to proof the yeast before mixing it into the dough.

      • Thank you Annie. This is the first time I’ve ever made any sort of bread so I’m going to give it another shot!

      • Made this last night and it turned out awesome! Was so incredibly delicious and it felt awesome to make my own pizza! Thanks for sharing this recipe! ❤

  49. I love Mother Bears but have never had spinoccoli pizza…. now I’ll have to try it! And your version of course, to do the taste test. 🙂 it’s only fair, right? 🙂

  50. Just made my own very made pizza tonight thnaks to this recipe!!!! Im so happy the pizza dough came good and if followed exactly like the recipe it should turn out perfect!!!! Cant wait to try other toppings!

  51. We LOVE this pizza! It has fast become a favorite around our house. My husband thinks I broke our son though because he keeps requesting broccoli on his pizza :0). Thanks for an awesome recipe!

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