No offense, pizza guy.
We’ve rented The Bourne Ultimatum, and instead of ordering Inglewood Pizza, which I always eat too much of despite my best intentions, we’re going to make some using the jar of sun dried tomato pesto I bought earlier in December for some reason I can’t recall. (It’s alongside the regular pesto, beside the pasta sauce at the grocery store.)
We make pizza all the time, probably at least once a week. Mixing together the dough takes hardly any time at all, and you only need to let it rest on the counter for an hour while you figure out what to put on top. Usually it’s a fridge cleaning affair; tonight we’ll get rid of the tomato pesto, a couple bison sausages, the last of the feta, some grated part skim mozzarella, and anything I can coax off that rind of Parmesan. Although shrimp would be great too – one of my favorites is a combo I stole from Earls – pesto, sun dried tomatoes, cooked shrimp and crumbled feta. Yum.
Basic Pizza Crust
Pizza dough is a wonderfully versatile thing. I know you can buy pre-baked crusts at the grocery store for a few dollars, but pizza crust made from scratch is far better, costs practically nothing, and I find the process of mixing and kneading the dough by hand therapeutic. (Besides, Mike does it most of the time.) Once the dough has risen it can be twisted into bread sticks or pretzels, patted into focaccia, or topped with whatever you like and baked into a pizza or flatbread.
1 cup lukewarm water
1 pkg. (or 2 tsp.) active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar or honey
2 1/2 – 3 cups flour – all purpose, whole wheat, or any combination of the two (I usually use about 2 3/4 cups)
1 tsp. salt
a drizzle (1 tsp. – 1 Tbsp.) olive oil
In a large bowl, stir together the water, yeast and sugar; set aside for 5 minutes, until it’s foamy. (If it doesn’t get foamy, either your water was too hot and killed the yeast or it was inactive to begin with – toss it and buy fresh yeast or try again!)
Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour, salt and oil and stir until the dough comes together. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 8 minutes, until it’s smooth and elastic, adding a little more flour if the dough is too sticky.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat all over. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for about an hour, until doubled in bulk. If you want you can let it rise more slowly in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.
Punch the dough down, cover again and let it rest for 5 minutes. Divide it in half and shape each into a circle (or make individual mini pizzas) and place on a cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with flour or cornmeal.
Spread the pizza dough with tomato sauce, sprinkle with desired toppings and bake at 450 F for 15-20 minutes, until bubbly and golden.
Makes enough dough for 2 – 9” pizzas, or one big rectangular one (I do these on a large rimmed baking sheet).
Per slice (based on 12 slices): 111 calories, 0.7 g total fat (0.1 g saturated fat, 0.3 g monounsaturated fat, 0.2 g polyunsaturated fat), 3.2 g protein, 22.5 g carbohydrate, 0 mg cholesterol, 1.1 g fiber. 6% calories from fat.
To make flavored pizza dough: add a generous pinch of chopped fresh or dried basil, rosemary or oregano, a clove of minced garlic, a few finely chopped olives or sun dried tomatoes (if they come packed in oil, use it in place of the olive oil) or 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper along with the flour. Flavored pizza dough makes great breadsticks – roll the risen dough into sticks as thin or fat as you like, sprinkle with coarse salt or grated Parmesan cheese and bake until golden.