Something about the term “home cook” has always seemed a little weird to me, in the same way that I find the “conventional” label for non-organic food to be ridiculous, as if the way people grew food for hundreds of year in the pre-petrochemical age was unconventional. My reservations aside, though, I am decidedly a home cook – I know what I know thanks to family and friends (counting Teh Internets among the latter), and not due to any formal training.
Because I’m largely winging it in the kitchen, I’ve frequently been intimidated by skills, techniques, and recipes that look way above my paygrade. Among those things that seemed like dark arts and magic fairy wands to me: making pizza from scratch.
The “putting stuff on the crust and baking it” part wasn’t scary, but I was clueless about making the dough. We spent many years buying those pre-made crusts from the store; while they were passable, we eventually got bored with what amounted to stuff topping a big cracker (Tim’s description). All that changed, however, when our friends the Mitchegosses brought their cheek-squeezingly cute kid and pizza-making skills to our house:
What wizardry was this?! Is Tyler a warlock?
No, he’s not, but he’ll be so thrilled that I used his name and that word in the same sentence. Seeing how mere mortals could throw a few ingredients together, let the yeast do their thing, and produce tasty pizza dough from scratch was game-changing for me. The recipe they shared – Cheri’s Favorite Pizza Dough – has become (with a few tweaks; see recipe at the end) our go-to for relatively quick, versatile pizza meals.
Because I’m a nutrition nerd, those meals usually involve using that pizza dough as a vehicle for healthy toppings. The more veggies I can cram on there, the better. So while there’s nothing revolutionary about a barbeque-sauce pizza, I wanted to highlight the one we make because it is piled up with fresh tomatoes and onions, as well as frozen broccoli and corn, to make each slice a veritable triangular salad.
Pizza doesn’t have to be all nutrition nerd, all the time, of course. It’s a kid favorite in its usual pie-shaped incarnation, but even more fun in this bubble-up version, which I found (and adapted slightly) from Pass the Sushi.
There are endless possibilities with pizza; I’ve tried to pull together a list for this week that highlights our favorites among the more interesting options. Don’t get me wrong – regular ol’ cheese or pepperoni make regular appearances on our plates. But we frequently explore different pizza ideas, like these:
- Barbeque veggie pizza (recipe – including slightly-whole-wheat pizza dough – follows below)
- Bubble-up pizza, from Pass The Sushi (here) – I diverged from the original and used small pizza dough balls instead; especially fun for kids.
- Hummus pizza, from Eat Well with Janel (here)
- Pear and prosciutto pizza, from My Recipes (here)
- Polenta pizzas with kale and chard, from Serious Eats (here)
- Sweet potato and pecan pizza, from Happy Healthy Life (here)
- Zucchini and lemony goat cheese pizza, from Smitten Kitchen (here) – one of the many SK recipes in heavy rotation at our house. Super easy, very fresh taste.
Barbeque veggie pizza (text file here)
First, the dough: the original recipe is from Fabulous Foods (here). I largely follow this recipe, with a few changes:
- I use ¾ cup whole-wheat flour and 2 ½ cups bread flour
- I don’t use a mixer or food processor; it’s very simple to mix and knead by hand
- Currently, I cook my pizzas on a baking sheet coated thinly with olive oil. I may switch to a pizza stone and corn meal, though, because my pizzas have been sticking a lot to the baking sheets.
The recipe will give you enough dough for two good-sized pizzas. I cut each pizza into eight slices, which amounts to approximately 115 calories of crust, each.
Next, the toppings. There’s no science to the types and amounts of veggies on this pizza; these are just the ones we tend to have on hand. Adapt however you prefer!
If you’re using onions, I’d suggest putting those on the very top, so they get well-cooked with a little char on them. Toppings that contain a lot of water – such as fresh tomatoes – can make the pizza soggy, so I usually pat those as dry as possible with a towel before putting them on the pizza.
(Makes eight slices, approximately 225 calories each including crust)
Pizza dough, stretched onto baking sheet
1/3-1/2 cup barbeque sauce
½ red onion
1 medium tomato, sliced
½ cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup frozen broccoli
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Microwave the frozen corn and broccoli for 2-3 minutes.
Spread barbeque sauce and cheese evenly on the pizza dough. Top with the vegetables.
Put the pizza in the oven for 12 minutes, give or take. Remove, slice and serve.