Veggie Pizza: Fresh and Homemade!

Happy Friday, everyone. Haven’t shared a recipe in a while so why not today?

Had some friends over for pizza the other day. Since I’m spoiled by the thin delicious crust I get whenever I buy dough at my neighborhood’s bakery, I always make it fresh. Given the oversized, granite-topped peninsula I now have—courtesy, in part, to an angel; topic for another blog—rolling out a plain pie and getting it into the oven is ten-minute-or-less deal. And inhaling the aroma of fresh pizza in a cozy-warm kitchen with friends perched on stools on the opposite side of the counter chatting while I assemble the pie has its place too.

Those of you who’ve been to my recipe pages (here and at my website) know cooking is not necessarily my favorite pastime. BUT: if I must or choose to I like to get a little creative and have some fun! So here is something I threw together when my friends were over—just because (and just because I remembered that years ago I used to fancy up pre-made crusts this way to change things up at the family dinner table).

Equipment you’ll need:

Round or square or rectangular pizza pan/cookie sheet (~16-inch)

Rolling pin

Cooking spray or extra oil to coat bottom of pan

Latex or food-prep gloves—optional. I use those with a snug fit b/c I wash my hands a gazillion times while I cook. (I wash as if the gloves were my skin; keeps my skin from falling off, lol.) Also handy is one of those long-handled pizza sheets the pizzeria guys use. A friend got me one. Comes in handy when you transfer the pie to or from the oven rack.)

Ingredients, depending on your tastes, of course. Add or delete at will! 

One whole wheat or white flour pizza dough (*See below.)

Olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pie once you’ve rolled it out—sorry folks, I only measure when I have to)

White or whole wheat flour (either is fine)

Oregano/Salt/pepper/garlic powder/red pepper flakes (to taste)

Fresh tomato slices

One large fresh bell pepper, cut into strips or chopped into pieces roughly half-inch square (depends on how soft you like them on your pie—smaller pieces cook faster)

One onion, thinly sliced

Fresh mushrooms (rinsed, dried, buttons and stems)

Pitted black olives (or any kind you like)

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Grated parmesan

Thinly-cut pepperoni slices (available pre-cut at market or by the pound at your nearest deli)

Fresh basil leaves cut into strips or small jar of green pesto

Preheat oven to 425˚F. (If you have a speed-bake or convection feature, your cooking times will be at least five minutes less.)

Spray pizza pan with cooking spray or coat with oil. (This step is particularly important if you plan on transferring pie to oven rack.)

Make sure dough is at least room temperature before you roll it out. I usually buy it in the morning and let it sit out all day. It will expand a bit in the plastic bag. You can also place it in a bowl, rub olive oil over it and cover it with a cloth before letting it sit. (Little flavor boost from the oil with that move.)

Dust your working surface and rolling pin with flour. Place the dough on the surface, using your hands to coat it with more flour. Roll it out to fit your pan. (One pound of dough makes a perfectly thin 16-inch pie.) Carefully lift dough from the surface and place on pan, tweaking it to fit. If you rolled it bigger than the pan just fold the edge over. If it’s way too big, cut it to size with utility shears. (**See note below.)

Pour at least 2 tbsp of oil onto crust and spread to coat the entire surface. Add more as needed. (If you’re using pesto, you can coat the entire crust in place of the oil and seasonings. Serious flavor-yum when you do that.)

Season the crust with any/all of the seasonings listed above. (You can mix them together up front or add them to the oil before you spread it on the crust).

Arrange cut-up vegetables and pepperoni. Sprinkle with grated cheese and/or mozzarella (you won’t need as much cheese as if you were making a plain pie).

Garnish with basil leaves. (If using pesto, you can eliminate this step.)

Bake in oven for 10-13 minutes. If you want an extra crisp crust, transfer pie onto the oven rack for at about 5 minutes more, or until done to your taste. (If you have a perforated pie pan—i.e., the one dotted with holes—skip this step.) Using a pot holder, carefully slide the pizza pan under the pie—assuming you don’t have the long-handled pizza tool—and remove from oven.

Allow to set a minute or two then cut into slices. Since my pizza cutter isn’t the best, I’ll score it with the rotary cutter then cut all the way through with scissors.

So there you have it! (The one on the right represents the recipe I just posted. :))

Seems like a lot of steps but once you have them down, making your own pizza is easy, more filling and so much tastier than those from the pizzeria. (Much cheaper too, as in about half the price of take-out. (I’ll put up my plain-pie recipe next week.)

*Most bread bakeries sell dough in one-pound bags; the white flour variety—possibly the wheat too—is available frozen at the supermarket. (I’m too lazy to make my own. Two more options: pre-made pizza crust from the bread aisle at the supermarket; making your own from Bisquick or a similar baking mix. Haven’t tried the Bisquick way yet. Will be sure to let you know if I do.)

**Rolling pizza dough does take some practice. Don’t get discouraged. If you need to, you can flip it once and continue rolling. Too much flipping results in a tough crust. Also, each piece of dough handles differently. Some rebound while others hold their shape better. (Next week we’ll go a little simpler with a plain pie!)

Have a great weekend. Let me know how you make out!

Joanna

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