For the Love of Pizza!

I grew up having pizza every Friday night and it is now a tradition with my family. We love it! If you’ve even been to my house on a Friday, or for a gathering, you’ve probably had my pizza!

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I like that I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner on Friday’s. I just create a pizza depending on what ingredients are available, and maybe have a salad on the side. Once you have it down, pizza is a super-easy meal to make, is really good for you, and can take less than 45 minutes from prep to table.

Here’s my pizza recipe and tips for you to use as a guideline. Happy Cooking!

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Put pizza stone in cold oven, center rack & preheat to 500 degrees.

THE DOUGH:

I often don’t let the dough rise at all, I just make it first when I’m making pizza that evening. You can let is rise for a few hours as long as it’s covered with a wet cloth. Just punch it down before you use it. You can also make it ahead of time & put it in the fridge (in a plastic bag or wrap) and take it out about an hour ahead, so it warms up to a workable state.

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 3 cups flour (the mix that I really like creates a good balance of textures, moistness, flavors & elasticity- 1 c white, 1 c spelt, 1/2 c quinoa, 1/2 c red wheat)
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Take a glass measuring cup and fill with 1 cup of hot water (temperature should be not quite boiling, but hot enough to activate the yeast without killing it). Sprinkle 1 tsp yeast on top of water & set aside.

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Mixing the dough- I use a Kitchen Aid Mixer with a dough hook for mixing the dough because it makes it so easy. No worries if you don’t have one, just mix by hand.

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Put the rest of the dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, sugar, salt). Drizzle the olive oil into the bowl. Mix the water & yeast with a whisk or fork & pour into the bowl. Set mixer on stir (lowest setting) and let the dough hook do its work just until the dough forms a ball around the dough hook.

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Don’t over mix if you are using spelt flour, it does better if it’s not over worked. Peel the dough off the hook, form a ball and set in the bowl until your ready to use it.

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THE SAUCE:

There are so many different kinds of sauces one could use. Most of the time I use a basic red sauce. If I have marinara sauce made and frozen in containers (which I do because I make big batches & freeze in smaller portions), then I just take out approximately a 1/2 cup & thaw it out. If you are short on time you can make a basic red sauce or buy a good canned sauce (they make some pretty good organic ones these days). A jar of store bought sauce should make 3 pizzas, so use some & freeze the rest for next week.

Red Pizza Sauce- If you don’t have any sauce on hand you can make a quick tomato based pizza sauce using canned/jarred tomato sauce & paste, garlic, olive oil, salt, basil*, & oregano*. I have these herbs frozen because I like them better this way compared to dried, but use what you have on hand. Fresh is always best when it comes to cooking, but isn’t always available. The thicker the pizza sauce, the better.

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*Herb Tip- When the herbs are  in season, put them in a food processor with olive oil, pack into jars or ice cube trays & freeze for later use. You can do this with any herbs: basil, oregano, dill, cilantro, chervil, parsley, etc… I also freeze my pesto this way.

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Cream Sauce- You can also make various cream sauces pretty quickly. Again, make enough to freeze some for next time. A very basic cream sauce is- melt butter in a pan, skim foam off butter (clarifying butter), add cream (or your desired mix of cream, half & half, milk, etc…), simmer on very low heat & stir/whisk constantly until thickened, add Parmigiano or Romano cheese  and  whisk together just until melted. You can add roasted garlic, roasted peppers, roasted garlic scapes, etc… as desired.

No Sauce- No sauce is also an option. Just stick to olive oil spread out generously all over the dough. If you like, spread on a little pesto (any type of pesto), or sprinkle any fresh or dried herbs.

THE TOPPINGS:

Use what you have on hand & get creative with combinations. The key is not to go overboard with too many toppings. Choose 4-6 that go well together, and aren’t too heavy or moist of a combination. There are some good pizza combination examples below to give you some ideas.

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Here are a few toppings that we use:

  • Meat*: Italian sausage (we use elk), bacon or Canadian bacon, chicken (or grouse, chukar, quail, etc…), pepperoni, smoked salmon
  • Cheese*: Best results come with 8 oz. of grated mozzarella on top. You can also top with some Parmigiano or Romano, use some dollops of ricotta, crumble feta, or use any cheese of your choice depending on what you think might go well with your ingredients.

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  • Fruit, Veggies, Misc.: spinach, kale*, olives of choice*, artichoke hearts, garlic, sun dried tomato, fresh tomato*, dried cranberries, sweet or hot peppers, summer squash*, winter squash*, eggplant*, potato*, onion*, pear*, cauliflower*, mushrooms*

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  • Nuts, & Seeds*: almonds, cashews, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds

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*Topping Tips:

  1. Meat- All meat is precooked.
  2. Cheese- I order a case of organic mozzarella chedar in 8 oz packages, then I take out one a week for pizza. If you forget to take it out ahead of time, put it in a bowl of warm water & it will thaw quickly.
  3. Olives-  We always have a jar of Kalamata in the fridge & love them on pizza
  4. Kale- I chop it small, put it on the top of the pizza just under the cheese, and this makes it a little crispy. We put kale on almost every pizza and it’s delicious!
  5. Tomato- For pizza, I like fresh tomatoes better when chopped or thin sliced, then put on after baking. If cooked on the pizza, they release a lot of their water & can create an undesired affect.
  6. Summer Squash- Slice thin & don’t put on too much, or it can be too moist.
  7. Winter Squash We use this a lot in the winter when we have a hunk of leftover cooked squash. Chop & spread out little pieces. It’s fantastic with cauliflower, pine nuts & chicken or sausage!
  8. Eggplant- Slice very thin, coat with olive oil & pre-roast on the pizza stone.
  9. Potatoes- Slice very thin, coat with olive oil & pre-roast on the pizza stone.
  10. Onions- I’m not a huge fan of raw onions on my pizza, but I love them if they are either precooked (like caramelized sweet onions, yumm) or very thinly sliced sweet or red onion placed on the very top of the pizza so they cook in the oven.
  11. Pear- I love Pear on pizza! Slice it really thin & don’t put on too much. It goes great with cream sauces & really brings out other flavors.
  12. Cauliflower- Slice thin, coat with olive oil & pre-roast on the pizza stone.
  13. Mushrooms- If you are using fresh mushrooms, slice thin. If you are using dried, re-hydrate in milk or cream & cut with kitchen scissors into slices or chunks. Squeeze milk/cream out of mushrooms & use. You can add the mushroom milk/cream to your cream sauce!
  14. Nuts & Seeds- Pizza should be good for you! Sprinkle a few nuts & seeds on any pizza!

ASSEMBLING & BAKING THE PIZZA:

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Take your ball of dough & start to stretch & spread out by hand, working it into a disc shape. When you feel like you will start to tear holes, you can set it on a floured surface (I use my counter) & continue to stretch & spread out to the size of your pizza stone. If it tears or holes form, no worries, just push them back together and press firmly. As long as there are no super-thin spots, it will be fine.

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Take the pizza stone out of the oven & set in a safe place to assemble the pizza. I set mine on my stove top with a cork hot pad to level it out. Transfer the dough onto the stone and reshape & press together any thin spots. Spread the sauce with a rubber spatula and layer the ingredients. Put the cheese on top & place in the oven. Bake 11-13 minutes at 500 degrees.

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Remove entire stone & pizza from the oven, slide pizza onto cutting board, and return the stone to the oven to cool down with the oven. Top with freshly grated Parmigiano, Romano, and/or crushed hot pepper flakes.

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GOOD PIZZA COMBINATIONS: 

Ingredients are in the order I put them on the pizza

  • The Classic- Red sauce, Italian sausage, Kalamata olives, dried cranberries, sliced jalepeno (or add a chipotle sauce or ground chipotles to the sauce if you like it more spicy), kale, mozzarella cheese
  • Hawaiian- Red sauce, turkey bacon (precooked & chopped in 1-2 inch pieces), pineapple chunks, macadamia nuts chopped, mozzarella cheese (also really good with kale under the cheese layer)
  • Gout Lovers- Red sauce, roasted garlic, chicken, Kalamata olives, sweet peppers, mozzarella cheese
  • Thai chicken- Cream sauce or red sauce with peanut butter added to it, fresh basil leaves, chicken, sweet peppers, green onions (precooked), peanuts or cashews, mozzarella cheese
  • Italian Classic- Red sauce, fresh basil, pepperoni, Italian sausage, olives, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese
  • Summer Italian Special- Red sauce, fresh basil leaves, pre-roasted eggplant, bacon, garlic, mozzarella & Parmigiano or Romano cheese (also really good with kale under the cheese layer)
  • Fall Harvest- Red or cream sauce, grouse or chukar, sliced pear,Kalamata olives, sliced almonds,  roasted garlic, kale, mozzarella cheese (or mix with Gouda, Parmigiano or Romano)
  • Winter Delight- Red or cream sauce, chicken or Italian sausage, winter squash, pumpkin seeds, cauliflower, pine nuts, kale, mozzarella cheese
  • Sockeye Special- Cream sauce with roasted garlic, smoked salmon, spinach, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, top with fresh tomatoes
  • Vegi- Red sauce, summer squash, sweet peppers, olives, feta cheese, mozzarella cheese
  • Idaho Classic- Red or cream sauce, potato, Italian sausage or bacon, precooked caramelized onions,  mushrooms, mozzarella cheese
  • Elk & Morels- Red or cream sauce, Elk Italian sausage, morels, kale, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese

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