Monday, April 2, 2012

Veggie Pizza

I was craving pizza so I decided that would be dinner for tonight. At 3:00 this afternoon, I started by making the pizza dough. While the dough was rising, I turned my attention to the pizza sauce by pureeing a can of Italian style tomatoes and warming it in a sauce pan with a little tomato paste, oregano, basil, salt, pepper and just a pinch of sugar. I simmered the sauce for about 10 minutes to thicken it a little and then set it aside to cool. I moved on to the veggies; I sliced some red onions, half of a red and green pepper and some mushrooms and sauteed them all briefly.

I also made a quick side salad by cutting up a couple of Roma tomatoes into chunks and adding a chopped up avocado. The simple salad got a dressing of a lemon juice, olive oil, honey and seasonings. A very nice little side dish.

The pizza dough had risen to its double level and so it was time to deflate it and shape it. I brushed the edges with olive oil, spread some of the sauce on the crust, added my sauteed veggies and shredded cheeses (I used a combination of mozzarella and cheddar since that is what I had on hand). I added a sprinkling of fresh parsley and popped it on my pizza stone for about 10 minutes. Once it came out of the oven, I sprinkled it with some fresh basil.


Pizza Crust
Makes 2 medium crusts or 4 calzones

1/2 cup warm water, about 110 degrees
2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and allow it to dissolve and swell (about 5 minutes). In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend. Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil. Mix until a cohesive dough is formed. Switch to the dough hook. Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2-2 hours.

Press down the dough to deflate it. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form each piece of dough in a smooth, round ball. (If freezing the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and frees at this point.) Cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.

To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes. If you don't have a pizza stone, turn a baking sheet upside down and use it instead. Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal (I used a piece of parchment paper which went directly on the pizza stone). Shape the dough with lightly floured hands. Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil. Top as desired. Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.

You can make dough ahead of time and keep a stash in the freezer. To do this, mix up the dough as usual and let it rise as normal. After dividing the dough into two equal portions, wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and store inside a freezer-safe bag, and transfer to the freezer immediately. The double layer is important here. Even after the dough is moved to the freezer, it will continue to rise a bit before the rise is completely suspended. It always pops through the plastic wrap so the extra layer of protection is needed to prevent exposure.

Freeze the dough until it is ready to be used. The day you plan to use the dough, transfer it to the refrigerator in the morning to thaw in time for dinner that evening. (If using the dough for lunch, transfer to the refrigerator the night before.) The dough that has been frozen tastes every bit as good as fresh so it is incredibly convenient to have available for a quick, throw-together meal.

If you are planning on using the dough the very next day, the refrigerator is not cold enough to stop the rise quickly and the result is an over-risen, crazy puffy monster dough. Use the freezer initially to completely stop the rise, and then transfer the dough to the refrigerator until it is ready to be used.

Before making the pizza, take the dough out of the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to take off the chill. Preheat the oven and the pizza stone at 500 degrees for 30 minutes.

Adapted from Annie's Eats

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