I have always loved the feeling of pride and accomplishment that comes after making a beautiful meal, even as a kid. When I was old enough to help my mom with dinner and pick out items at the grocery store, we would frequently buy Boboli pre-baked pizza crust and make our own gourmet pizzas. It was cheap, easy and super fun for kids and grown up’s.
Now fifteen years later, gourmet pizzas have become an underlying trend in contemporary cuisine and making them at home is still a great way to make dinner at home with friends. Pizzas are especially good for entertaining, Trader Joe’s has some great frozen flatbread pizzas I always use when having guests over. But, when time allows and I have fresh ingredients, I have learned that making your own pizza is a healthy alternative to store bought brands.
A few weeks ago, I was picking up pesto sauce from Rosanna’s – a local Italian restaurant/market I love – and saw they had homemade pizza dough available for take-out. I bought one fairly large ball of dough and brought it home to make with my roommates over the weekend. So on Friday, when we were all home for the evening, we started coming up with different toppings from our crisper, condiment jars and leftover containers to use for our masterpieces. We opted to make one with pesto aioli, fresh mozzarella and chicken sausage, and another with spicy marinara, chopped chicken, broccoli & red bell peppers.
First, pre-heat your oven to 425. Although the dough is pre-made, you still have a little bit of handiwork to do before you can bake your pizza. You will need to knead and work the dough for a few minutes to get out any air bubbles and divide into two equal parts (or keep it in one part to make a single large pizza). The action of flipping the dough isn’t necessary, but is helps in evenly distributing the dough if you can do it right. It took me a few tries, but I ended up doing most of the pie forming with my hands on the board.
Once you have your pie formed, add the sauce. A couple tablespoons is probably good, but you can eye ball it. Then you will want a strong base cheese, like shredded mozzarella. I love cheese, so I always use a generous helping. I would then cook the pizza for about 8-10 minutes without toppings so they don’t overcook. Then for the last 2 or 3 minutes, you can throw your toppings on to warm up with your yummy melty cheese. I like my pizza well done, so I waited until the edges were a dark brown. Typically, the dough will bake for a minute or so after you take it out, so just keep an eye on it until you think it looks perfect.
I can’t wait to do this one again, there are so many different combinations you can use, and it’s a good way to get rid of scraps and excess produce in the crisper. Try a white pizza or a thai pizza with peanut sauce for something different!