March 20, 2011 § 4 Comments
Pizza night is a regular thing around my house. It’s not a once a week, fixed night–that would be waaay too scheduled for us. But, it’s my busy/lazy night of the week dinner, and there are a lot of nights that fall into those two categories. We eat a lot of pizza, ok? Probably twice a week. Is that wrong?
Maybe I’m deluding myself, but I actually feel like this is a pretty healthy option for us, even as often as we have it. I use my bread dough that is always in the fridge for the crust (or a Giada recipe that is quick and simple), so I know it isn’t full of sugar (something I can taste when we’ve had frozen or delivery pizza). I use whole milk mozzarella cheese, but not a ton of it. Then I try to add some vegetables on top to help us all get the roughage that we need. Add a salad? Even better. So, see? I feel pretty good about it on a health level.
On another level, the pleasure level, there’s nothing that competes with homemade pizza for dinner. There’s crispy, chewy crust, cheese (what’s not to love), warm vegetables, and a fresh-baked bread aroma. Another thing: the kids can help me grate cheese and “decorate” the pizzas with whatever we are putting on them before they go in the oven. It’s a good parent and child meal, but would be great for couples, friends over for dinner, whatever. People like to make and eat pizza.
Instead of a specific recipe, I’m going to give you a list of some of the things we put on our pies regularly. Pizza is a great vehicle for whatever ingredients you have in the fridge/want to use up/have a hankering for/are dirt cheap this week, so here are some suggestions:
- thinly sliced potatoes
- kalamata olives
- thinly sliced carrots
- ricotta (spooned on in little splotches)
- arugula (tossed on the top after the pizza comes out of the oven)
- chopped garlic
- caramelized onions
- sun-dried tomatoes
- basil pesto (we make it when we have basil in the garden)
- pine nuts
- herbs (thyme, rosemary, basil, parsley, sage, cilantro, dill, oregano)
- cheeses (Mozzarella, Goat, Feta, Parmesan, Asiago, whatever)
- cooked meats (bacon, pancetta, sausages, leftover chicken, ham)
And on and on…
The process goes like this:
- Make the dough. If you already have the dough in your fridge from the Artisan Bread in 5 method, shape a ball and do something else for an hour. If you go with Giada’s recipe, mix it and come back in an hour or two (three works, too). ***Edit: her recipe calls for you to mix all the ingredients in a food processor, but I just mix it in a large bowl and stir it with a big spoon. At the end, I mix it by hand, knead it for a minute on the counter, oil the same bowl, and put it back in to rise.
- Pre-heat your oven to as hot as it will go. This is 550 degrees F for my oven.
- Sprinkle your baking sheet or baking stone (a great option, but a baking sheet will work, just fine) with cornmeal to avoid sticking.
- Flour a work surface and your hands and stretch out the dough, making a circle or oblong shape, depending on your pan shape. You will have to pull a little here and there to get it right, but don’t pull too hard. If you do make holes, just patch them the best you can. It can be fixed. Don’t panic.
- Put the dough on your baking sheet and put it in the oven for a short pre-bake: about 10 minutes, but keep an eye on your crust. You are going for a slight browning, but not a thorough cooking.
- Grate your cheese(s) and prepare your toppings.
- Remove the crust from the oven and top it with your cheeses and other “decorations” you desire, and put it back in the oven again.
- Bake for 5-8 minutes, again, keeping an eye on it. You want your cheese to blister a little, and your crust to become golden brown.
- Remove, cut with a sharp knife, kitchen shears, or a pizza cutter (if you have one), and serve immediately.