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It’s no secret. I love pizza! It’s just the most comforting food. Tomatoes, cheese, garlic, basil, bread….how could you lose with these ingredients?! My husband and I make pizza at least once a week. We make it entirely from scratch (aside from making our own cheese!), and you can use ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen!
I’m going to share with you how to make our favorite homemade pizza:
This recipe will show you how to make the above Margherita Pizza, from start to finish. But don’t stop there! The possibilities are endless, and I’ll include a couple of our favorite variations to try. I’ll go into a lot of detail (probably more than you want or need), but what can I say, I’m passionate about pizza!
A note on pizza stones and peels: I cannot possibly over-stress my love for my Sur La Table pizza stone. It stays in my oven at all times and I just cook all my food right on top of it. It is not only incredibly important for giving you a perfect crust on your pizza, but it is also perfect for baking bread. I know they’re a bit spendy, but Valentine’s Day is coming up! You deserve it! I also love this pizza peel. If you plan to make a lot of pizza or bread, this will be an invaluable tool.
Making Homemade Pizza from Start to Finish:
1. Early that morning:
- Start a batch of Artisan Bread [recipe here]. Don’t freak out! It’s the easiest thing ever. You basically mix yeast, kosher salt, flour and water until combined, then leave it on the counter for 2 hours and it’s DONE! No kneading, no proofing, just mix it and leave it (I was tempted to say, “set it and forget it!” but I’ll spare you). The other awesome thing about this dough is that it stays in your fridge for up to 2 weeks, meaning you’re ready to make pizza again next week, if you get the urge (you will)!
- Make the tomato sauce: Mix one 15 oz. can of tomato sauce with one 6 oz. can of tomato paste. Add 1-2 cloves minced garlic, 1 Tbps. dried oregano, 1/2 Tbsp. dried basil, 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. onion powder, and mix to combine. DONE. No need to heat or cook. We’ve kept this in the fridge for up to about 2 weeks, and this amount easily makes 2-3 pizzas.
2. Forty minutes before dinner:
- Prep your toppings.
- Tomatoes: We’ve tried this with all sorts of tomatoes and they are all delicious! One word of advice here, if you are using really juicy Romas or Vine Ripe tomatoes, we recommend removing some of the seeds and innards before slicing. My personal favorite is using cherry or grape tomatoes. Simply slice them in half and they are ready!
- Cheese: Anything goes here, people. BUT, my favorite is definitely Fresh Mozzarella. If you can find it where you live, and can afford to splurge a bit, there is absolutely no substitute. Other great cheeses to use are: shredded mozzarella, feta, goat cheese, parmesan, fontina, ricotta. I wouldn’t recommend using a yellow cheddar here, it just doesn’t really go with the traditional Margherita pizza. But, if it’s all you have, go for it! If you’re using a log of fresh mozzarella, just slice it into 1/4″ slices.
- Basil: Fresh if you’ve got it. Just give it a quick rinse and chiffonade. If you don’t have fresh, I’d just skip this entirely. There is dried basil in the sauce, so no need to be redundant.
- Garlic: If you love garlic (and I do!), mince up another clove or two.
3. Thirty minutes before dinner:
- Turn your oven up to as HOT as it will go. I’m not kidding here. 550 degrees is what we’re going for. Before you do this you might want to make sure your oven is relatively clean (no pieces of food inside) or you’ll get a hot burned mess.
- Grab your dough and pull off about a grapefruit sized piece. Quickly cloak the dough (in-depth instructions are in the dough recipe) and place it on a well-floured (use cornmeal also if you’re worried about the dough sticking) pizza peel. If you don’t have a pizza stone, a floured or silpat lined cookie sheet will work. If you’ve previously refrigerated the dough, let it sit for about 30 min. to come to room temperature. If this is freshly made dough, you can begin rolling it out immediately. Or, if you’re like me, grab your hubby and tell him to show you his superior pizza throwing skills.
- Once your pizza is rolled out into a circle (I would aim for about 15″ in diameter, but don’t get out the ruler, people…this is supposed to be fun!) you can get started with creating that beautiful a-pizza-pie.
4. Ten minutes before dinner:
- Assemble the pizza: Sauce on bottom, sprinkle the minced garlic, add the tomatoes and cover with cheese. Lots of cheese. You can never have too much cheese. Leave the fresh basil for later.
- Quickly open the oven, and carefully slide the pizza onto the hot pizza stone. If you don’t have a pizza stone and are cooking this on a cookie sheet, just put that in the oven now.
- Set the time for 10 minutes and don’t peek! In ten minutes the dough should be cooked and the cheese bubbling. If it doesn’t look ready, give it another minute or so and check again.
- Remove from the oven and top with the fresh basil. I love to give it a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil here too. Let it cool! Don’t cut into it right away, the juices from the tomato will make a huge mess! 5 minutes on the peel should do it and you’ll be ready to eat. YUM!
Now doesn’t that look good? And I told you it was easy!
Looking for variations? Here are a few of my favorites:
- Goat Cheese, Onion and Red Pepper: Chop up a mixture of bell peppers (red, yellow or orange), yellow onions and red onions. Saute in butter until nicely browned and caramelized. Roll out your dough, generously cover in olive oil, sprinkle 2 cloves of minced garlic, add the onions and peppers, and top with a ton of goat cheese. DELISH!
- Prosciutto and Asparagus: Remove the ends of a handful of asparagus spears. Cut into about 3″ pieces and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roll out your dough and cover with either a basic tomato sauce or drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle minced garlic on top. Add the prosciutto and asparagus spears and top with cheese (goat cheese or ricotta work great here, but so will mozzarella). When the pizza is cooked, drizzle it with olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar.
- Barbeque Chicken: Roll out your dough and cover generously with a good quality barbeque sauce. Top with cubed grilled chicken (store-bought will work), sautéed red onions and mozzarella cheese. When the pizza is cooked, top with chopped fresh cilantro.
- Green Pizza: This is an homage to the most yummy pizza ever from Hot Mama’s pizza in Seattle. Roll out your dough, top with basil pesto (store-bought is OK!). Add a ton of feta and shredded mozzarella. Simple!
- My friend Dacia has a yummy looking Thai Pizza on her blog that I want to try. It should work perfectly with this method!
If you decide to try this pizza, please let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear how it went. Also, please share your own recipes for pizza toppings. I’m always game to try something new!
Filed under: Mmm food...