Pizza sauce and dough are two of the simplest things to prepare at home and both can be made in advance. The dough can be made in the food processor and stored in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready. The pizza sauce goes together in under 45 minutes and also freezes well. There’s just no excuse not to make your own.
Oddly enough the best pizza I ever tasted was in a tiny restaurant in Salzburg, Austria many years ago. It was topped with sliced fresh tomatoes, which came as a surprise to me. I almost always use fresh tomatoes now. That particular pizza also omitted the traditional red tomato sauce, but I’ve used a little of a homemade sauce on my pizza today. Feel free to omit it. It’s delicious with or without the sauce.
For the dough I’ve used rapid-rise yeast. It’s a time saver because it is a strain of yeast that doesn’t need to be dissolved separately in liquid and the dough only needs to rest 10 minutes instead of the traditional one to two hours to rise.
Quick-rising Pizza Dough in the Food Processor
Makes two 12” crusts
2 cups all purpose white flour
2 packages Rapid-Rise yeast
½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
In a large-capacity food processor, combine 1 cup flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Heat ¾ cup water and the oil to 125 to 130 degrees F. With the motor running, slowly pour in the hot liquid through the feed tube. Process, adding up to 1 tablespoons of cold water if needed to make the dough form a ball, then process for 1 minute to knead. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knead about 9 to 10 times, then cover with plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes.
Dough can be made ahead, punched down, dusted with flour and wrapped with plastic wrap and stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before using. Dough can also be frozen in plastic bags, defrosted overnight in the refrigerator, and then brought to room temperature before using.
Tossing the dough in the air is one of the fun parts of making your own dough. Here I am learning how to toss the dough from a friend of ours at his house. You can probably tell by the look on my face that I was a little afraid of dropping it. It always helps to have someone cheer you on and encourage you when trying something new.
Basic Pizza Sauce
Yield 4 cups, enough for four 12” pizzas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 - 28oz cans Italian peeled tomatoes, drained and crushed (save liquid)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch of ground allspice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Pinch of hot pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Splash of red wine if desired
Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the onions and cook over low heat to wilt. Add the garlic and cook a minute or two longer, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Add remaining ingredients (except parsley) including the liquid from the tomatoes. Stir well, cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove the lid, add the chopped parsley and wine if using, then simmer an additional 15 minutes or until the sauce is fairly thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, cool, and refrigerate (or freeze).
Fresh Tomato and Basil Pizza
Serves 3 to 4
Dough for a 12” pizza, brought to room temperature if it has been refrigerated
Corn meal for preparing baking sheet or pizza stone
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ to ¾ cup pizza sauce (optional)
½ cup grated fresh imported Parmesan cheese (not the stuff in the green can), divided
2 – 3 tomatoes, cut into ¼” slices
6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh basil leaves for garnish and a wonderful fresh flavor
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet or pizza stone by sprinkling with a little cornmeal. Roll out pizza dough to the desired shape and place on baking sheet or stone. Brush with the olive oil. Spread with pizza sauce if using, leaving a ½ inch border, then sprinkle with half of the Parmesan cheese. Arrange the tomatoes over the cheese and top with garlic, salt and pepper and remaining cheese.
Bake the pizza at 500 degrees F for 12 minutes. Check to see if pizza is crispy. If not, let it cook another minute or two. When done, remove to a cutting board and sprinkle with some torn basil leaves. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.
|Not all pizzas have to be round - create your own shape|
Did I hear someone say where’s the mozzarella cheese? Your wish is my command. One of my favorite pizzas is the classic Pizza Margherita, shown above, made with mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil. As the story goes Queen Margherita was visiting Naples in 1889 and grew tired of fancy French fare and wanted to try what the common people ate. The owner of the best pizzeria in all of Naples was summoned to prepare three pizzas for her Highness. His mozzarella version was her favorite so he named it Pizza Margherita in her honor. While many people believe this story, records indicate that pizza with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, which happen to be the same colors of the Italian flag, was eaten in Naples forty years before she sampled it. You can find my recipe for Pizza Margherita here in an earlier post.
I hope everyone has a great weekend. Last Saturday this pretty hot air balloon floated past our lanai as we were having breakfast. Meakin was able to get a good shot of it through the screen don’t you think.
This will be linked to Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.