Pizza night is a weekly tradition in my house, however it is done a bit differently then your standard pizza night. It takes a little more time and preparation, but believe me when i say it is totally worth it. When you make your own pizza, you can control exactly what goes on it.
I start by either making or purchasing a whole wheat pizza dough. Even though I would rather make my own crust, sometimes buying one is just easier. If you go to your local pizzeria, sometimes they will sell you their dough. Via Roma (in Allentown, NJ) will sell you their whole wheat pizza dough for only a couple of dollars! Otherwise, you can buy your dough at any supermarket. Once you bring your dough home, let it come to room temperature by leaving on the table for at least 45 minutes.
While waiting, you can start to prepare your toppings! In order to top your pizza with vegetables, it is important to either stir fry, or steam them before hand. Now when I make a pizza, I call it “as many vegetables as I can fit on the crust”. Needless to say, I have tried plenty of combinations. Some of my favorites? Onions, garlic, zucchini & yellow squash, mushrooms, broccoli, peppers, fresh tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, and spinach. Sometimes I throw all of them on, and sometimes just a few! It all really depends on what I have on hand. My latest idea is to throw some eggplant into the mix. What do you think?
After cooking your toppings, set them to the side so you can get your crust ready. Start by choosing a surface to roll out your pizza dough, then, clean the hell out of it! This is so important because your pizza dough can easily pick up any germs on your counter. Sometimes I use soap and follow it with warm water, other times I have used my small squeeze bottle of white vinegar (which I use to clean my produce) to clean the counters. After the counter is clean, dust the counter and your rolling pin with flour (I suggest whole wheat). This helps prevent the dough from sticking to your surface. Next, place the dough on the counter and roll it to the shape of your cookie sheet or pizza pan. Because I like a very thin crust, I end up rolling out my crust, cutting it in half, and using two cookie sheets.
By the way, whenever the timing is conveniant for you, don’t forget to preheat your oven at 400°F.
Before you place your dough on the cookie sheet, grease the cookie sheet with a small amount of oil. Your best choices are either canola oil, or safflower oil because they have high smoking points. After oiling the pan, sprinkle it with either toasted wheat germ or organic corn meal (also known as mesa or polenta) to prevent the dough from sticking to the pan. This is what I always do, but what about all of you? I am sure there are pizza lovers out there with great suggestions! Once your pan is ready, carefully place the dough on the pan.
Now it is time for your toppings, so get creative! Throw on some of those veggies that you have already prepared! Spread on some tomato sauce (but watch out for sauces with high sodium!), or try throwing on some sliced tomatoes instead! You could sprinkle on some mozzarella, or you could grate a little Parmesan on top. I may be biased (because I don’t eat a lot of dairy), but I sometimes feel that the cheese masks the other great flavors that my pie has going for it. However, a little grated Parmesan on top before baking, and a little afterwards (for those who need it) is the perfect touch!
Looks like you pie is ready to bake! Place your pizza in the oven and bake it for 10 to 15 minutes. When it is done, the crusts should be crisp, and if you used cheese, it should be melted. Let it cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. By the way, pizza night is not complete with out a big salad!
Check out some my pizza creations!
What are the benefits to making your own pizza? Well you are able to satisfy your pizza cravings while controling the calories, sodium, and fat content. Now that’s amore.