Pizza is one of those things that's been so commercialized you almost forget how clever the concept is. A bed of warm and hearty bread, covered in absolutely any topping you can dream of. Oh and it comes out of the oven warm and savory, and pairs really nicely with wine. Now how on earth it became the modern American grease heap we know today, is beyond me. Pizza is a lost art. At least, as most know it. I recently read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle and found myself at a level of inspiration I hadn't reached through any other medium in a very long time. In it, Barbara talks about the weekly family "Pizza night". I was so inspired by this idea, that I too proclaimed a weekly pizza night. Mostly that means Fridays, but occasionally, like tonight, I just couldn't wait another day.
So first things first. I needed to determine how to make the dough. And it needed to be simple and quick. I work full-time and have much to do, so waiting on yeast to rise, while occasionally do-able, just wasn't terribly convenient. Not to mention, going down that trail would lead me to wanting to develop my own starter and so forth, and then I'd never actually get around to making us a delicious pizza. So after much internet and cookbook research, I came up with a super simple dough recipe. It takes a few minutes to put together and cooks in 15. Anyone, and I mean anyone out there who wants pizza, can make this. Honestly, after I did it, I was ashamed I had ever been seduced by the simplicity of a frozen pizza (even if they were organic), because this is equally as simple and far, far more delicious. You get huge beautiful bites of layers of fresh vegetables. Not a few sad shreds, of what claims to be spinach, here and there. There's no going back now.
Toppings? Most pizza nights I go with a pretty simple combination: olive oil, pressed garlic, basil, tomatoes, some kind of greens (usually kale, or whatever the farm share delivers for the week), thinly sliced onions, kalamata olives, and white cheddar. I've made it with beets, various sauces, arugula, artichokes. The possibilities are endless. And on nights where a full day of work doesn't leave me begging for an early bed time, I get really adventurous. I would encourage you to look at your beautifully rolled out sheet of dough as a blank canvas. Think outside of the fast food typicals, beyond tomato sauce, and into the endless opportunities. I have a running list of stuff to try when it comes season. I'm particularly eager to top the dough with the bounty of garden goodies I hope bless us this year. Fingers crossed.
Pizza, From Scratch with Love
- 2.5 cups Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 3/4–1 cup water
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 T unfiltered olive oil
- Mix all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl
- Add olive oil and water (add water slowly, you may not need the full cup)
- Stir until a dough ball forms. The dough should be soft, not wet or sticky.
- Knead the dough for 3 minutes, then roll out to match the size of your baking sheet
- Preheat oven to 400°
- Use a sauce of some kind for a base, or you can use olive oil, pressed garlic and chopped tomatoes. Canned tomatoes work out of season, but do try to use organic for the best flavor.
- Basil is my go-to pizza herb of choice, but again, pizza leaves much room for interpretation and creativity.
- Use a plethora of vegetables. Some kind of leafy greens are my staple starting point, but the choice is yours. Go beyond vegetables, if you wish. It's your pizza!
- Top with a shredded cheese, or omit that all together. I mostly like a modest amount of cheese on mine, but not always.
- Bake for 15 minutes. The dough may look slightly soggy on top, but rest assured that it has cooked sufficiently. Less is best with this dough (and I know this through experience).