So I have to admit that I've never made my own pizza dough. I hate baking (besides for the occasional challah and the rare from-scratch dessert) partly because of the exact measuring, and partly because of the huge flour mess that ensues. Anyways, even though everyone says how easy pizza dough is, it still falls under the baking category (to further emphasize my dislike for baking, I am making butternut squash ricotta ravioli tonight and I am using wonton wrappers!!! I hope the filling makes up for the sheer culinary laziness that I call CONVENIENCE!!!)
Back to the pizza dough. Trader Joe's sells individual bags of fresh dough in the refrigerated section (NOT frozen!!) in 3 "flavors"- plain, 100% whole wheat, and garlic herb. You just roll it out with a little flour, pop it on a pizza or sheet pan and there you have it! Plus, you can't beat the 99 cents a bag!!
The star ingredient in all of my pizzas is a leafy green, whether it be fresh spinach or kale, I love to pile it on top and it wilts down and gives the pizza such a hearty taste. Plus, you won't feel like you are eating anything heavy. The crust is healthy, you can use as much or as little cheese as you want, and you can throw on nearly anything. You can use a base marinara sauce, or even forgo the marinara and spread pesto on the bottom and tehn top with toppings of your choice and then cheese. You can make a white pizza with vegis and dollops of ricotta cheese. OR YOU CAN USE ALL OF THE ABOVE!!! The sky is the limit in terms of pizza. I wouldn't call these "recipes" per se, because there are hundreds of variations depending on what you like. You can even use the plain (or whole wheat, I guess) dough to make a dessert pizza sprinkled with cinnamon sugar- when it's in the oven it will perfume your house with the BEST smell ever! I've never done this, but I've been talking about making a meat pizza with marinara sauce, ground meat of choice (beef/chicken/turkey), onions, and of course- spinach or kale. Throw on some sliced fresh garlic and it is a full meal on a pizza!
-Pizza wheel: no bells & whistles is fine (Pizza Scissors: Can you say "SERIOUSLY?????")
-Round pizza pan: the holes at the bottom allow the heat to reach the bottom of the pizza, making for a crispy crust
-Stone: I don't actually have a pizza stone, but one day I will get one. They (the pizza gods) say that the best pizza dough comes out on a pizza stone sprinkled with cornmeal. The cons, though, are that they are heavy, and then you also likely need to get one of these pizza peels to take the stone out of the oven, both of which will end up being a pain to store in a small kitchen. However, I just came across this stone with handles, eliminating the need for a pizza peel altogether!
-Rolling pin: necessary for rolling out the dough! A tapered wooden rolling pin works wonders too.
-Sheet Pan: for like a year, my round Wilton pizza pan was m.i.a. (don't ask how a pizza pan goes missing, but Avi just found it in the drawer that I emptied a dozen times looking for it, the drawer under my stove- apparently it was hiding on top stuck). Anyways, I adopted the "sheet pan method" instead of the traditional round pizza, and I've come to like it much better. I don't know if I'll ever go back to round again! I have these Anolon "cookie" sheets, which I sometimes line with aluminum foil or parchment paper for easy clean up.
Grilled Zucchini Garlic & Kale Pizza with Shredded Cheddar & Mozzarella
-1 ball of pizza dough
-1 zucchini, cut into rounds
-5 cloves of garlic, sliced
-4 cups of shredded kale
-One red onion, diced
-Shredded cheese blend (I use Natural & Kosher "Chef's Blend" which is a mix of shredded mozzarella and cheddar)
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
-Heat a grill pan or panini grill pan on medium heat. Drizzle the zucchini rounds & garlic slices with olive oil and season the zucchini with Kosher salt & pepper. Grill a few minutes per side, it's nice to get the grill marks on them. Grill the garlic also a few minutes per side, until it browns.
-Roll the dough with a little flour (flour the rolling pin too) and stretch to fit a sheet pan
-Drizzle the dough with a little olive oil and spread on with a pastry brush
-Pour on marinara sauce and distribute on the dough
-Sprinkle the diced red onion and kale, and then add the grilled zucchini and garlic
This next pizza takes time and patience to caramelize the onions but it is SO worth it.
Caramelized Onion & Fresh Greens Pizza with Ricotta & Shredded Cheeses
-3 medium sized onions
-1.5 tsp. salt
-1 tbsp. sugar
-2 cups chopped fresh spinach
-2 cups shredded kale
-garlic "chips" (5 cloves sliced garlic)
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
-To make the caramelized onions: slice the onions thin, and add to a hot saute pan with olive oil. Let saute for 10 minutes, and then add the salt & sugar. Let saute for 20-30 minutes until desired level of caramelization is reached (can definitely go longer but I didn't want it to turn into onion jam, so 30 minutes was good). Make sure to stir the onions while they are sauteeing.
-Once rolled out and placed on a sheet pan, drizzle the dough with olive oil and top with the marinara
-Add the kale, spinach, onions, and garlic over the marinara
-Dollop ricotta cheese on the pizza and then top with the shredded cheese (as much as you like)
-Bake for 20-25 minutes
Before (without shredded cheese):
Embrace your inner Italian, and flip a pizza or two! Be creative and put on whatever you want! Plus, the leftovers make great next-day lunch :-)