Homemade pizza from scratch. Honestly, once you’ve had it, nothing else really compares. Tonight’s dinner was surrounded by the sounds of “Mmm” and “Oh” and “This is so good!” and “That sauce is amazing!” It was so prevalent that I almost started laughing at the dinner table. Either my family was really hungry, or it really was that good:) Maybe a little of both? That said, there is something timeless (well, at least in our generation) about pizza.
Football games, birthday parties, and family get togethers all seem to gather around this classic American food. I am always trying to find ways to get more vegetables into my children while still satisfying their likes and taste buds. I also like to use what I have on hand so that there is very little waste. This opens up some wonderful opportunities, especially when it comes to pizza toppings. Tonight’s pizza was a little bit different than what I’ve ever done before, but it tasted really good. I had some leftover Lacinato kale that I wanted to use up. I also had a few slices of deli meat (turkey in my case, though chicken pizza is REALLY good). I had a green bell pepper, some white mushrooms (which are growing on me, though I’ve never been a huge mushroom fan), tomatoes, and green onions as well. So, I decided that pizza would be a great dinner.
The secret to a good pizza is really in the sauce and in the crust. The sauce I made was truly from scratch. I even grew the tomatoes myself! It was a blend of several different varieties. Oxheart, Portuguese, and Italian San Marzano tomatoes, to name a few. I LOVE tomatoes and love them even more straight off the vine. In the past I have spent hours peeling and canning them. While I still do, I found a technique to store garden fresh tomatoes that has saved me literally hundreds of hours while preserving their freshness and flavor. I simply wash my garden fresh tomatoes, core them, cut them in half, and throw them into my Vitamix, peels and all. I pulse the tomatoes and blend them on a low setting until they are nice and crushed. I like having some texture to my tomatoes, so this works perfect for me. I then put them in a freezer bag and throw them in the freezer for later use. This works great for pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, chili, vegetable soup, etc. Easy. Especially if you just throw a frozen block of tomatoes into the crockpot for a meal and forget about it. Love it! Because I combine different tomatoes, the flavor is different every time. It’s like Christmas year round:) I can’t tell you the difference fresh tomatoes make. So worth it!
However, making pizza sauce from crushed tomatoes can be a challenge. You need a thickening agent (or endless hours to cook it down). I personally use tomato powder from my food storage to help speed up the process and thicken my sauces. Several companies sell it and it is a great addition to your food storage. You can also use tomato paste. Using tomato paste or powder can add a really acidic flavor to your sauces, so you have to use garlic salt and other seasonings to help temper it. Sometimes I’ve added sugar to offset it, but not in this recipe as my tomatoes were sweeter. I was able to complete the sauce in under 20 minutes, which worked perfectly as I had to chop veggies and raise the crust.
The pizza crust was actually made tonight by my seventeen year old son. I share that because crust and bread making is really a lost and dying art, and it’s NOT HARD. Really. If my teenage son can make pizza crust, so can you! You can knead it by hand, but I have found that it is much easier using a mixer or bread maker. I have a Bosch mixer. My mom has a Kitchen Aid, so I’ve tried both, but I have to say that I LOVE my Bosch!!! It has a dough hook that makes kneading bread dough and crust a breeze. With this pizza crust recipe, you literally just have to throw all the ingredients into the mixer, knead it for 3-4 minutes and that’s it!!! I let it raise for 20-30 minutes (though 1 hr. would have been preferred) and it was so light, elastic, and soft. My son used white flour. While I was disappointed as I usually always make whole wheat pizza crust, my family was not disappointed. The texture was divine and so yummy. One secret to a good pizza crust is also baking it on a stone. It helps make the bottom of the crust ever so crispy. Yum! I did sprinkle some cornmeal on the stone to help prevent the dough from sticking. Plus, I like the taste of a dusting of cornmeal on my pizza crust.
As far as toppings go, it is really up to personal preference. I love ham and pineapple, tomato and green bell peppers, chicken bacon Alfredo, pepperoni, or the works. The one lesson I learned with using kale on top of pizza was that the edges dried out and were a tad crispy. It was like having partially baked kale chips on top. While the flavor the kale added was awesome, in the future I will probably put my kale under the cheese and see what happens.
So here it is. A recipe to make homemade pizza from scratch!
- 3 c water (warm/hot to the touch)
- 2½ tsp. salt
- ¼c + ⅛c olive oil
- 8 c flour (white or wheat or a mix)
- 2 T sugar
- 2 T active dry yeast
- 4 c crushed tomatoes (preferably garden fresh)
- 4 T tomato powder (or 1 small can tomato paste)
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1 tsp. garlic salt
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning (or use fresh basil and oregano)
- 1 T chopped dehydrated onion (or use 1 fresh onion, chopped and sauteed)
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Green Bell Peppers (chopped)
- Tomatoes, diced
- Green Onions, sliced
- Mushrooms, sliced
- Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
- Place all sauce ingredients into a sauce pan. Turn on low and simmer, stirring periodically, for about 15-20 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Combine all crust ingredients into a mixing bowl with a dough hook. Knead together for 3-4 minutes. Make sure that the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and that it is not too sticky. Cover dough with a moist cloth.
- Let dough rise for 20min-1 hr. (1 hr is best, but you can get away with 20 minutes).
- While dough is rising, gather and chop all pizza topping ingredients.
- Sprinkle cornmeal onto a baking stone. Roll out dough into the shape of a pizza crust on the stone. Top with pizza sauce and desired toppings.
- Bake 15-20 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown and the cheese browns a tiny bit.