Our family loves pizza. Who doesn't? We've come a long way though from our early days of ordering delivery from you-name-it pizza chain. Over the years, as we've tried various restaurants and experimented with our own versions, it's always a win for mom when they hear, "It's pizza night" and I don't even mind cooking it. The thing about making your own pizza though, is that everyone likes something different so it's hard to agree on toppings or decide who will split which pizza so you can do half/half. I generally make two full pizzas for our family of 5, but the personal tastes and differences in topping and base choices is enough to make one scream (ok, not one-- me) sometimes.
This past week was no different when we rented a house in one of our favorite summer spots, Sunriver. My daughter brought along a friend and I really didn't know what she would think of our kind of non-conventional pizza choices. In addition, I had forgotten to bring along my pizza pans, and knowing that vacation rentals generally only come with the kitchen basics, I decided to give everyone a ball of their own dough, set out a bunch of base and topping choices and let everyone make their own mini-pizzas.
While this blog entry will give you some basic instructions for pizza making, there really is no recipe to follow, except the dough; and I'll even give you a quick tip on that. I'll share some of my tips, including what to do when you don't have a rolling pin, and I'll share some of our family favorite toppings and a few quick shortcut hacks for easy pizza night. So, don't expect to love my recipe as much as you get to decide what you like, maybe take a few pointers and then start rolling and topping for just you!
So let's start with the dough. When I got my KitchenAid many years ago, I started with the manual that comes with it. There is actually a pretty good, and fool-proof dough recipe in that manual. These are the basics from that recipe:
Ingredients for Pizza Dough:
The dough recipe above should give you enough to make two large sized pizzas. Or divide into 4ths, or 5ths, or whatever you like to make several smaller size pizzas. On our Sunriver trip, my daughter rolled out her dough, adding the toppings and rolled it up into a calzone. Or make stuffed bread sticks. The choices are only limited by your imagination!
Ok, lets' talk base now:
Huh? Many restaurants now also offer base choices other than the typical tomato sauce base, including, but not limited to alfredo, pesto, bbq sauce and ranch (eww).
If you are going to use a tomato base, I suggest mixing half tomato paste with half tomato or marinara sauce. The tomato paste has a nice thick consistency to it and adds a little bit of sweetness. Be sure to sprinkle with oregano-- I call that the "pizza spice." If you don't believe me, just open up a jar of oregano and take a whif. Tell me that doesn't shout "pizza" all over your olfactory senses?
Our family prefers two different bases: pesto and plain old olive oil. Since my husband is dairy free, he chooses just the olive oil. I switch back and forth between the pesto and the olive oil, depending on my mood and my calorie count for the day.
And now, the toppings:
No matter what the base you add, now comes the fun part with the toppings. The choices are endless, but you might consider some of these more non-conventional toppings that have made their way onto our pizzas.
Eggplant- I'm not kidding. Years ago, we used to order a pizza every Friday night from a locally owned pizza parlour. The owners were Persian and I was pleasantly surprised how much I loved eggplant on my pizza! Just cut into cubes, saute with a little bit of olive oil in a pan and it's ready to use.
Whole roasted garlic- wrap a head of garlic in aluminum foil and cook in 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Remove and let cool. You will love the amazing aroma as it fills your kitchen and topping your pizza with these soft little bites of gold will make your pizza extra special. Who needs kissing after you've had a pizza like this anyway?
Leafy greens- spinach, kale, arugula. Any of these are great added nutrients and fiber to your pizza. Be sure to either put them under moist toppings like eggplant or tomato before cooking unless you like your greens crispy, or add them as fresh ingredients after the pizza is done cooking.
Our favorite pizza is a mediterranean style with an olive oil base, and toppings that include chicken, eggplant, diced tomato, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts and feta or goat cheese. Of course, the kids love pepperoni, pineapple and black olives. Did I mention you can make individual smaller pizzas?
Be sure to consider herbs, too. Top with fresh basil, rosemary or sprinkle with dried Italian Seasoning mix.
What is your favorite topping? Leave a comment below and share your creative tastes.