America might run on Dunkin’, but it also runs on pizza. And in the spirit of healthful eating for What I Ate Wednesday, I’d like to present a pizza that isn’t loaded with saturated fat and a thick, starchy good-for-nothing white flour crust. Pizza can have a crispy, thin whole grain crust with a little bit of part-skim mozzarella and lots of vegetables…
The first step is to collect your pizza making tools, including a rolling pin, a pizza peel (further down) and a pizza stone. But don’t be discouraged! If you don’t have a peel or a stone (that sounds weird, right?) you can use the backs of two large baking sheets. So here we go…
Preheat the oven as high at it will go, around 500° F, with the pizza stone or baking pan (upside down) on the lowest rack. To be sure your baking vessel is hot enough, let your oven and pan/stone bake solo for at least twenty minutes. And that’s when you can do this… take your store bought (or pizzarria shop) dough and roll it into little three-inch balls like this…
Once the chill comes off the dough, use a well-floured board and rolling pin to stretch the dough into an extra thin circle. Roll back and forth once, then rotate the dough 90°, then repeat. Do this until the dough is at least six inches in diameter…
Then you can pick it up parlor-style and gently rotate the dough between your fingertips to get maximum stretch. If you bust a hole, just patch and press, patch and press…
For ease of sliding your pizza off your prep pan and into the oven, sprinkle a generous amount of course cornmeal (or even grits) onto your peel. You’ll know you have enough cornmeal when you shake the peel back and forth and the pie moves around easily.
Side Note. The fun part is layering on the flavor. Along with a nice supple dough, the secret to a great pie lies in the sauce and the cheese. Use a high-quality pizza sauce or make your own (easy recipe below), and the freshest mozzarella you can find.
Then leaving a 1/4-inch border for safety, spoon and smooth on your pizza sauce and layer vegetables alternating with the cheese. Slide the pizza off the peel and onto the stone (or upside-down pan) using an assertive forward, then back motion. Bake until the crust is crispy and the cheese is bubbling, between five to seven minutes.
For a nice finishing touch and some healthy omega-3 fatty acids, drizzle the crust with olive oil. And that’s as far as I take you this Wednesday. What you do with your pizza once it’s baked is, quite frankly, none of my business. Today, or any other day of the week.
|Simple Pizza Sauce|
- 1 small onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 28-ounce can of crushed Roma tomatoes
- 1/4 cup dry wine, red or white
- 3 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (stems reserved)
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
- TT salt and black pepper
- In a medium sauce pot over medium heat, cook onions in olive oil until they begin to turn translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add wine and turn heat to high, until wine simmers away completely.
- Add tomatoes, bay leaves and reserved parsley stems. Simmer on low heat, partially covered for at least thirty minutes (the longer it simmers the more intense the flavor).
- To finish, remove parsley stems and bay leaves. Add sugar, pepper flakes, dried herbs, fresh parsley and salt and black pepper to taste.
Pizza Check List
Pizza stone (or large baking pan)
Pizza peel (or large baking pan)
Pizza dough, store bought, also try a local pizza parlor for whole wheat
Flour, for rolling
Cornmeal or grits, for pizza peel
Mozzarella, or other nice melting cheeses like Brie or Fontina
Toppings, sliced thin or chopped small for best results
Olive oil, for finishing
Salt, for finishing