Enticing and aromatic, this version of Linda's pizza gets top marks!
- 1 package (1 tablespoon) active dry yeast
- Pinch of sugar
- 1 1/4 cups warm water - not too hot or you'll kill the yeast!
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cups flour - I use the unbleached, hard-wheat (bread) flour. You can use part whole wheat, but the majority should be white
Toppings (Feel free to mix and match!)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 finely chopped white or yellow onion
- 2 cups tomato pulp (fresh tomatoes chopped - you can do this in a bender) or 2 cups (1 large can) drained and chopped (blender) canned tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil or 1 teaspoon mixture of Italian dried herbs. I usually add some oregano as well as the basil, not more than a teaspoon
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Feta, olives and fresh chopped basil just after the pizza comes out of the oven
- A mixture of mozzarella, grated hard cheese (Parmesan, Romano, Asiago). Don't use cheddar or Monterey jack by themselves as they are too oily
- Sautee some veggies in a bit of olive oil - sliced zucchini, onion, mushrooms, canned and drained artichoke hearts
- Sun-dried tomatoes that have been reconstituted in hot water. When soft, just chop or slice them and add to your sauce or pizza topping
- Add fresh chopped and drained tomatoes after the pizza comes out of the oven. This is good with feta
- Sliced fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella with the olive oil sauce - add fresh basil when it comes out of the oven for "Margarita"
- In a mixing bowl combine the yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup of the water, allowing the yeast to dissolve. Add the rest of the warm water to the yeast mixture along with the salt and olive oil. At this point, you can also add the fennel seed (about 1 teaspoon), garlic (2 - 3 finely chopped cloves) and/or basil (1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh).
- Stir in the flour and beat with a wooden spoon or with your hands to make a stiff, sticky dough. Turn the dough out on a well-floured board and kneed until velvety smooth and elastic but firm, about 10 minutes. Oil a large bowl, add the dough and turn to coat thoroughly with the oil. Cover with a clean dishtowel and place in a warm, draft-free spot to rise until about doubled in bulk, 1 to 1/2 hours. You can also use an oven pre-heated to "warm", then turned off for raising the dough.
- When risen, punch the dough down, divide into two and turn out on a lightly floured board. Form into 2 balls and roll out each into a circle about 1/8" thick. Have the sauce and toppings ready before rolling out the dough. If using a pizza stone, have it pre-heated in a 450 degree oven. Remove pizza stone from the oven and place on a heat resistant surface. Gently and carefully place the rolled out dough on the stone, add sauce and toppings and immediately return to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes or until crust is fully cooked.
- If using a baking sheet instead of a pizza stone, preheat the oven to 450 degrees while you are rolling out the dough. Do not pre-heat the baking sheet. Lightly oil the pan and sprinkle with corn meal then proceed as above.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic, sautee gently without browning for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato and the seasonings. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens and reduces to about 2 cups. Taste and correct the seasonings. You can substitute one small can of tomato paste for the tomatoes, but you'll have to add water to make up to 2 cups