By Jennifer Spaide
Have you ever made homemade pizza entirely from scratch? It’s not as difficult, or time consuming, as it sounds. Make a simple sauce, then a pizza dough that comes together in minutes in the food processor, and buy your other ingredients. The dough and sauce can be made ahead for a quick weeknight meal. The easiest toppings are leftover vegetables (I give you seasonal suggestions below), a dusting of Parmesan cheese, and a swirl of excellent olive oil when the pie comes out of the oven. Try Olivette’s harissa olive oil for an authentic kick of spice with a hint of heat.
Pizza stone (a flat piece of ceramic or earthenware used to evenly distribute heat to baked goods)
Pizza peel (large wooden paddle used to transition pizza, or other baked goods, between pizza stone and countertop)
Read the care and use instructions for your pizza stone carefully before use. Generally, you place the stone on the lower rack of an unheated oven, then heat to 500˚ before cooking your pizza. Bed Bath & Beyond has good options for both the stone and peel. Also check out kitchen stores like Williams-Sonoma.
Makes about 3 cups
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove
- 4 tbsp organic tomato paste
- 1 29 oz. can organic tomato puree (glass is even better)
- 1 tsp salt
- Optional: 1 tsp dried basil or oregano
- Heat olive oil in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat.
- Grate the garlic, using a microplane or zester (if you don’t have either, mince and mash it with your knife) then add to the oil. Sauté the garlic for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and sauté for another minute before adding the tomato puree, salt and optional herbs. Mix well. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick.
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
This recipe uses white whole wheat flour (made from winter wheat) that is lighter than regular whole wheat flour and produces a dough more similar in texture to white flour dough, but with all the health benefits of whole wheat. This dough can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen for months.
Makes 1 lb dough, enough for two 13” pizzas or 4 individual pizzas
- 2 cups white whole wheat flour (King Arthur)
- 1 package Active-Dry yeast or 1 scant tablespoon from a bulk jar
- 1 tsp salt
- ¾ cup very warm water (between 110 and 115 degrees on an instant read thermometer)
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Place the flour, yeast, and salt in the food processor. Pulse to combine.
- Combine the water, honey and oil. Turn the food processor on and slowly drizzle the water mixture in.
- Continue processing until the mixture starts to come together.
- Turn the dough out into a greased bowl. Give it a quick knead to bring it together into a tight ball.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest in a warm place for 20 minutes.
Assemble and Bake the Pizza
- Place the pizza stone on the bottom rack of an unheated oven and preheat to 500˚.
- Lightly flour your work surface. Divide dough in half and roll or press out to about a 13” diameter.
- Lightly dust the pizza peel with flour or cornmeal then carefully transfer the dough to the peel. Give the peel a little shimmy-shake to make sure the dough isn’t sticking and can move around for easy transfer from peel to stone.
- Top pizza with sauce and desired toppings starting with cheese. Avoid over-saucing or your toppings will slide off.
- Carefully slide the pizza from peel to stone, using small jerking motions if necessary. If your pizza won’t slide, grab an edge, tilt the peel, jerk the peel to pull it out from under the pizza, and lay it into place. Don’t worry about an imperfect edge.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the crust begins to brown. Carefully slide the pizza peel under one edge of the pizza and shimmy the pizza back onto the peel, using small quick jerking motions. You could also use a pair of tongs to gently grab the edge of the pizza and drag it onto the peel.
- The final touch is a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil. Check out the selection at Olivette in Darien. Let the pizza cool slightly, then slice and serve.
Seasonal Topping Suggestions:
- Broccoli Robe and Sausage
- Roasted Butternut Squash and Sage
- Prosciutto and Arugula
- Kale, Portobello & Black Olive
Jennifer Spaide is a natural foods chef, writer, and mother. Spaide received her Masters in Human Nutrition at Columbia University and attended culinary school at The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. Jennifer grew up with an innate appreciation for fresh-from-the-garden foods and wants to share that passion with others. Her online magazine, Simplicious, gives readers fresh recipes that are healthy and easy to prepare, bites of tasty information that help bring health into the home, and breaks down complex topics into easily digestible table-talk that even the kids will understand. In addition to her magazine, Spaide maintains a bi-monthly column in the New Canaan Advertiser, and continues to work as a freelance writer and recipe developer. www.simpliciousmag.com.