I think pizza gets a bad reputation because we typically picture New York Style ginormous pieces the size of your head, with pepperonis swimming on greasy cheese. While I can get down with that every once in awhile, I much prefer the homemade variety so you can control what goes in and on your slices!
Alex and I make pizza frequently – mostly because its my favorite food ever and its never far from my brain so when planning meals, its one of my first suggestions 🙂 But also because pizza is totally customizable! Whether we are planning ahead and purchasing our favorite toppings OR we’re using it as a way to clean out our fridge and eat up leftover veggies, pizza is delicious!
We used to buy Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough. Its delicious, healthier than the white pizza dough equivalent, and is easy to use. Tip: whatever you do, do not try to make it into a ball and then stretch it out. Take it out of the bag in whatever shape it is and let it sit for a little while on a baking sheet (that is greased or floured/cornmealed so it doesn’t stick) After 15 min, stretch the dough gently in all directions, careful not to make holes in it. Its not forgiving if you try to start over (it gets really tough if you try to ball it up and start again) so you gotta just work with it carefully the first time around!
If you’re short on time, this is a totally delicious and easy way to make pizza. But, if you have time and want to experiment, I highly recommend making your own dough. We started trying this out when I was put on a super strict diet by a GI doctor (FODMAP diet- for those of you who have sensitive stomachs, its worth researching). While super limited on this diet, I started making spelt pizza dough. We love it so much we continue to use spelt flour even though I’m no longer on the diet. Its our go-to flour for breads, biscuits, scones, and doughs!
Disclaimer: You do need to let dough sit for at least an hour after mixing the ingredients – make sure to plan ahead so you have the time to do this! Another option? Mix it up before work and let it sit all day to rise – put the whole bowl in a plastic bag so its covered!
- 3-1/2 cups flour *
- 2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1-1/2 cups warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
*I use Spelt flour but this recipe originally called for gluten free flour (I recommend Pamela’s Bread Flour), and you can definitely also use regular whole wheat or white flour too!
- In a large measuring cup, add the active dry yeast to the warm water and let sit for a few minutes. It will probably get frothy — that’s good!
- Put 3 cups flour in a large mixing bowl (reserve the rest for flouring your hands and work surface). Whisk in the salt so its distributed throughout.
- Use your hands or a a spatula (I use a round rice spatula but you can really use anything) to mix in the water/yeast mixture. If it seems really wet/sticky, add some more of the flour.
- Once its pretty mixed, add your olive oil. I like to add this after the other stuff because it helps make the dough easier to knead and less sticky.
- Using your hands or spatula, fold the dough onto itself, kneading it, to make sure the ingredients get well mixed and you get some air in the dough to help it rise! Do this for a few minutes.
- Leave your dough alone for awhile — I usually let it sit for an hour or so but I also sometimes make the dough before work and then leave it to rise while I’m gone! Its best if left somewhere warm.
- After it rises for an hour, punch the dough down. Preheat oven to375 degrees and let the dough sit again while the oven heats up.
- Grease a baking sheet, and put some flour on it and on your hands. Ease your dough away from the edges of the bowl and slide it onto the sheet.
- Carefully push the dough towards the edges of the sheet, stretching it and flattening it into your preferred shape. Be gentle and patient, patting it to the thickness you want.
- Put the dough in the oven for 15 minutes, keeping an eye that it doesn’t get too brown!
- Take it out – it’s ready for toppings! Have fun 🙂
When it comes to toppings, its really a matter of preference. I urge you to get creative.
- Super simple tomato sauce recipe coming later 🙂
- Store bought tip: make sure to check ingredients because a lot of sauces contain high levels of sugar. While a little sweetness is necessary, steer clear of the ones that have sugar high up on the ingredient list!
- We also love homemade pesto – almonds or cashews (pine nuts are so expensive) blended with heaps of fresh basil, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and salt+pep+garlic to taste!
- Quattro Formagio mix from TJs
- Dollops of goat cheese
- Feta cheese
- Fresh mozzerella rounds
- Vegan? Blend up cashews or almonds with salt+pep, some lemon juice, and lots of fresh basil, oregano, or sage and make an herb nut cheese! Put large dollops OR a thin layer in place of sauce
- Tomato slices
- Bell pepper
- Roasted butternut squash
- Caramelized onions
- Spinach (hidden under the cheese so it doesn’t get crispy)
- Fresh arugula piled on top (don’t cook it!)
- Ground turkey cooked into the homemade tomato sauce (yum!)
- Chicken sausage – our fave? Sweet Italian chicken sausage from TJs (not pre-cooked)
- Pepperoni/salami (not healthy or environmentally friendly, but its a rare treat!)
- Fresh Herbs
Either pile on the veggies so the pizza stands on its own OR make a simple green salad to eat on the side 🙂 Enjoy!