Pizza is not a vegetable, but it is perfect.
Pizza is the perfect food. It encompasses the major food groups by ways of the crust being grains, the toppings as veggies, the cheese as dairy, and the sauce as fruit!
Yes, tomatoes are a fruit, go look it up.
Even better than the health consciousness of it, is the uniqueness of it.
Your basic cheese pizza is good, but it’s still just a blank slate. In fact, forget that: the idea of PIZZA is a blank sketchbook upon which any and all manifestation of your culinary ideas can come true.
And it’s easy.
When I bring leftover pizza for lunch, the most common statement I hear is “That smells amazing, where did you get it??” My answer is always the same “Thanks, I actually made it myself.”
This seems to shock people. That somehow the thing that we can quickly order over the phone and have delivered to our front door in the 30 minutes to one hour range can somehow be created using the ingredients we have at home and still be as good if not better than what arrives in that cardboard box. It must be really hard, involve a lot of expensive stuff that I don’t have, and it must take a really long time, right?
In fact, if you follow the directions, make sure you have all your ingredients on hand (or at least in your house), you too can make a delicious, healthy pizza in the same amount of time as it takes to dial your favorite pizza shop and order one extra large greas-o pizza and have it delivered.
Ready? Okay, start the timer. Go!
Step 1: Collect all your ingredients. I would hope it goes without saying that you want to make sure your ingredients are fresh and usable. This may be the longest part of the recipe if your as unfamiliar in your kitchen as you are with Quantum Mechanics.*
*If you’re comfortable with quantum mechanics, congratulations, now get back to my transmogrifier.
Step 2: Break out your mixing container. I use a Kitchenaid stand mixer which makes life happy. A bowl and wooden spoon work just as well and count as a complete upper body work out!
Three: Add 3/4 cup warm (~110 degree F) water to the bowl, about 3 teaspoons of honey, and the packet of Active Dry yeast. I do not recommend rapid rise yeast as it’ll make things move a little quickly. But if that’s what you have, then go with it, and just be careful to check the dough during the rising period before it gains sentience and tries to take over the world.
Allow the yeast mixture to sit for 5 minutes or until bubbly and foamy (no more than 5 minutes though).
Quatro: While the yeast is proofing (that’s what it’s called), go a head and weigh out your dry ingredients. For me, this includes 6 ounces (about 1.5 cups) All Purpose Flour, 4 ounces (about 1/2 cup) Whole Wheat Flour, and about 2 tablespoons Wheat Germ. Ounce measurements for a cup of flour are arguable, I judge around the 5 ounce range.
If you don’t have a kitchen scale and you bake a lot, I recommend getting one. If you don’t have one and don’t want one, make sure you’re measuring correctly. Gently spoon (no, no cuddling the baking ingredients) the dry ingredients into a measuring cup and level with a knife. Sticking the cup into the bag and dragging it back out again does not equal a precise measurement!
Good, we’re bubbly, time to continue.
Number E: Add dry ingredients to yeast mixture and turn on mixer or carefully mix together with a wooden spoon.
With the mixer going (preferably), drizzle in about 1/4-1/2 cup Olive Oil. Keep mixing until your dough looks something like this:
Add some water if it still looks dry.
Hang on there cowboy, you’re not ready to make pizza yet. This is good, but it’s not quite dough. You need to knead. You want the dough to be rather elastic so either let the mixer run for a while, or better yet, work out those hands and arms.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and begin kneading. Think about your cat when it’s testing the squishiness of your innards. Push the heel of your hand into the ball, fold in half, rotate 90 degrees, repeat. Do this for about 3-5 minutes, longer if you’re taking your time. Your dough should become slightly sticky and elastic and should be able to be pulled into a ball like this:
Whatever step we’re on now: Place the ball into a bowl and coat with cooking spray or olive oil to keep from drying out. Cover with a clean dish towel and place in a warm, draft free place for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size. (I use a barely warm oven that’s OFF.)
While the dough is rising, you could be playing a video game, getting a drink, or any other number of things. Personally, I cracked open a beer. Then I cleaned up from the first mess (dough making) and prepared the second mess: Toppings.
Toppings can be anything you want on your pizza. This is where you can let your creativity shine!
For me, my toppings are: Tomato, garlic, basil, oregano, mushrooms, olives, and cheese.
Now you’ll probably notice there’s no sauce listed there, but think about it.. what is sauce? Tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and basil! So, I just add the ingredients in layers and let it make its own sauce! Ha ha! I’m so
Go ahead and start chopping what needs chopping so that you’re ready when…
The dough’s ready!
When you can press two fingers into the dough and the indentations stay there, the dough has risen.
If you have a pizza peel (aka: a pizza spatula) go ahead and get it out and make sure it’s clean. If you don’t have one, use the back of a clean baking sheet or cookie sheet without a lip.
PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 425-450 DEGREES F!
Sprinkle about 1/4 cup cornmeal onto the board and start pressing out your dough until it’s the right size. The bigger the circle, the thinner the crust. Just keep that in mind.
The assembly will now be presented in photo form:
garlic and herbs
I apparently forgot to take a photo of the pre-cooked mushroom and olive topping… but I think you all get the right idea.
Make sure your pizza stone is preheated properly.
If you don’t have a pizza stone, again just use the baking sheet idea, but check the pizza earlier to see if it’s done.
Slide the pizza off the peel (or cookie sheet) and onto the stone and set your timer for 10 - 12 minutes. My oven has a nefarious hot spot in the back left corner, so I set my timer for 6 minutes and then rotate the pizza 180 degrees before cooking for the final 5-6 minutes.
Longest. 10 minutes. ever.
Ding! Times up!
Carefully remove the pizza from the oven. I use an old pizza pan to serve it on. If you can, let it sit for 5 minutes so you don’t end up at the ER with cheese burns.
All in all, it takes me just about an hour to create this piece of art. Which, depending on the night, traffic, alignment of the stars, and the restaurant, is about the same time for delivery.
Go ahead and serve yourself a slice and try a bite… delicious isn’t it?