Who doesn’t love pizza night? There’s something so festive about it (go on, watch it — you know you want to! And it’ll bring a smile to your face):
Still giddy with joy from completing our taxes, we declared last night to be pizza night. But as I haven’t lived within range of a place that delivers pizza in over 20 years, for me, “pizza night” almost always means “make my own pizza” night — and actually, I usually prefer making my own pizza: homemade is more affordable, is generally healthier (leaner ingredients), and is usually much, much yummier than any pizza you can purchase.
When I have the time and feel like puttering about with it, I make my own dough for the pizza crust — my favorite thus far is a sourdough crust that is out of this world yummy! (Note to self: try making up some sourdough starter again — and soon!)
Other times, I’ll use a pre-baked crust for convenience: the small-sized ones, especially, are handy for when we’re craving pizza for lunch.
When I’m wanting that “homemade” kind of pizza, from crust to toppings, but I don’t have the time or desire to make my own pizza dough, I’ll purchase dough that I bake and shape at home. While those of you in larger cities likely have access to a greater variety of raw pizza doughs, the one available to me is made by Pillsbury: I get it in the refrigerated section of my local grocery and it comes in a tube.
When we have pizza night, I usually make two pizzas — a thick-crust with lots of veggies (last night was onion, mushroom, black olives, and green olives), lots of regular pepperoni, and extra cheese (usually part-skim shredded mozzarella) for my beloved and a thin crust for me with lots of veggies, turkey pepperoni and/or Canadian bacon, and shredded mozzarella cheese. This gives us leftover pizza for lunches (and even breakfasts! 😉 ) and/or another supper meal.
Vegetarians: it is, of course, very, very easy to keep your pizza vegetarian/meatless. 🙂
I nearly always make my own pizza sauce — it’s quick, easy, fat-free (at least the way I make it), and has much more flavor than most commercial sauces.
Making yummy pizza at home is easy:
- To maximize fresh veggie flavor, just lightly sauté your veggies in a non-stick skillet — remember, they’ll also cook a bit more once they’re on your pizza.
- Grate your own cheese. PLEASE! Not only is it less expensive, but it will melt better and have more flavor (commercially pre-grated cheese is coated with something to keep it from sticking together). While I will occasionally use pre-grated cheese, 99% of the time, I grate my own.
- To make the pizza making and baking itself more streamlined, just do the prep ahead of time: make the dough (if making your own), make the sauce; grate the cheese; and slice, dice, and/or sauté your veggies. Then, it’s all over but the making and the baking!
- Partially bake your crust before adding your toppings — this will prevent that unappealing doughy, undercooked texture. Follow the directions for your pizza dough, but a general rule of thumb is that you’ll want to prebake it for about half the total bake time, then add your toppings and finish baking it until done.
- For a crispy thin crust, I recommend a pizza pan that has holes in the bottom.
- If you’re baking your pizza in a solid pan (no holes in the bottom), sprinkle a bit of cornmeal along the bottom of the pan before adding the crust.
- A smidge of olive oil on your hands — and a wee bit to prepare the pizza pan — makes working with and shaping the dough ever so much easier.
So go on, next time you’re craving some pizza, give the delivery dude a rest and try making your own!
For the sauce:
- 1 can tomato puree OR 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste and 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce (You could also use a large (12 ounce) can of tomato paste and just add in enough liquid — wine and/or water — until it is your desired consistency)
- Seasonings to taste: Worcestershire sauce (vegetarians, leave out or use a vegetarian substitute), basil, Italian seasoning, oregano, garlic/garlic powder, onion powder, and parsley — I also like to add in some fresh rosemary leaves
- Splashes of wine and/or water (to achieve desired consistency)
For the pizza:
- Homemade dough or raw pizza dough (I’m using Pillsbury Classic Pizza Crust dough)
- Pizza sauce
- Desired toppings: diced/chopped onion, sliced black olives, sliced green olives, diced green (or red or yellow or orange) bell pepper, sliced mushrooms, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, crumbled or sliced sausage — honestly, anything that sounds yummy to you, sliced/diced/chop it, sauté it if need be, and put it on your pizza!
- Shredded mozzarella (I usually use part-skim)
1. Prepare the sauce: season the tomato puree/tomato paste/tomato sauce as desired. Add liquid (wine and/or water) until sauce is desired consistency — I like a thicker sauce; you may prefer a thinner sauce. That’s the joy of making it yourself — you can have it how YOU like it! (You can do this step ahead of time and keep sauce refrigerated or frozen ’til you’re ready. Keep any leftover sauce refrigerated for another use — such as a pizza omelet, to add to a soup or Italian tomato sauce, or some such — or freeze it for future use.)
2. Prepare desired toppings and grate cheese. (You can do this ahead of time.)
3. Preheat oven as per the directions as per your dough recipe or purchased dough directions.
4. Shape the dough and get it ready for prebaking. Here’s the thick crust one for hubby, shaped in a 9″X13″X2″ pan:
And here’s my thin crust pizza:
As you can see, the dough isn’t perfectly shaped. That’s perfectly okay — it won’t have a negative impact on its yumminess, I promise!
5. Once crust is pre-baked, remove from oven and top as desired: first, sprinkle on a little bit of grated Parmesan, then spread on desired amount of sauce. Put on desired veggie toppings, then desired meat (if using) toppings, and THEN top with grated cheese. Return to oven and finish baking.
6. Remove finished pizza from oven, let rest about 5 minutes, and then enjoy!
It tastes so good, you’ll break into song! (Go on, take 30 seconds to bring on a smile!)