For better or for worse (and I think we'd all agree worse), America runs on pizza. So in the spirit of good health, I'd like to present how to make pizza at home that isn't loaded with terribly processed fake cheese, and good-for-nothing white flour crust. Pizza can be amazingly divine with a crispy, thin whole grain (or grain-free) crust topped with fresh mozzarella and mouthfuls of vegetables.
1. Tools matter in making pizza at home
The first step is to collect your most important pizza tools: your hands. Now collect the supporting actors including a rolling pin, a pizza peel, and by all means a pizza stone if you can, but the last is not essential. If you don't have a peel or a stone, you can use the bottoms of two large baking pans. Please don't waste money on a pizza cutter if you don't already have one, any knife will cut your pizza just fine. I tend to scold my husband when he reaches for ours, and threaten to disappear it often.
2. Oven temperature is key
Preheat your pizza stone (or pan) in the oven as high as you can, say 500 - 550°F. Preheating for 20 to 30 minutes locks the heat in the stone, which will ensure a crispy crust and perfectly melted mozzarella.
3. You don't have to make your own dough
Gasp! No, as a rule, I don't make my own pizza dough every time. For Husband who eats keto I will, but it's a non-yeast dough and comes together in a few minutes. For traditional pizza pies, I always find great dough at our grocery cooperative (the Boise co-op), and even from our local organic produce delivery. Many stores stock a couple of different kinds of pizza dough, including gluten-free (below) and whole wheat. Perfect when you're planning is lacking, but pizza is the play.
4. Minimize use of the rolling pin
Unless you're a practiced pizzeria cook, a rolling pin will be your best friend in the beginning. If you're brave enough to stretch the dough from start to a beautiful, round finish, by all means, bring it. If not, a little rolling at the start will give you a nice established shape to work from once you start pulling and stretching. Because when it comes to the how to make pizza at home part, it's your home, do what makes you happy.
How to succeed at rolling
Once the chill comes off the dough, use a well-floured board and rolling pin to press the dough into an extra thin circle. Roll the pin gently back and forth once, then rotate the dough 90° and repeat. Do this a couple of times, until the dough is at least six inches in diameter. Too much rolling will overwork the gluten proteins in any traditional wheat dough, and result in a dense crust. #cookingisscience
Next, pick it up parlor-style and gently stretch your circle a little at a time, using your fingertips. If you bust a hole, just patch it and get right back to stretching the thicker sections. Pizza lore tells a story of dough so thin you can read through it, but let's be realistic and know our own limits here. If it seems thin enough for you, it is. And perfect circles are not essential to delicious pizza. Just ask my kids.
For easy sliding into the oven, sprinkle a generous amount of flour, cornmeal, or even grits in a pinch onto your peel. You'll know you have enough when you shake the peel back and forth and the pie moves around easily.
5. Great ingredients = great pizza
In our kitchen, the fun part is layering on the flavor. If we don't have fresh mozzarella, Butcher Box Italian sausage, or a great tomato sauce, pizza is a no-go. You can certainly find some very edible marinara sauces on store shelves, but an awesome recipe I developed while at the CIA is below (chefs, not spies). It may be more expensive but snag the best looking log of mozzarella you can or even some burrata. I tend to use a combination of organic, shredded mozzarella, and ovoline.
Once your pies bake up hot and fresh, drizzle the perimeter of the crust with olive oil to add an omega-3 kick. And that's as far as I take you. What you do with your pizza once it's baked is, quite frankly, none of my business.Print
This sauce is great for pizza, and even for pasta night! It can be ready in about 30 minutes, but the longer you simmer the better it gets.
- 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ fennel bulb, minced
- ¼ cup dry wine, red or white
- 28-ounce can of crushed Roma tomatoes
- 3 bay leaves
- several fresh parsley stems, tied together with kitchen twine
- 3 teaspoons dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ¼ cup combined fresh basil and parsley, chopped (stems reserved)
- 1-3 tablespoons granulated sugar (leave out or use honey for GAPS diet)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- In a medium saucepot over medium-low heat, sweat onions in olive oil until they begin to turn translucent. Add minced fennel, and sweat a few minutes more. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add wine and turn heat to high, until wine simmers down to about a tablespoon.
- Add tomatoes, bay leaves, and parsley stems. Simmer on low heat, partially covered for at least thirty minutes, or a couple of hours (the longer it simmers the more intense the flavor). Remove bay leaves and parsley stems when finished simmering.
- Optional: purée sauce in a blender until smooth, or use an immersion blender to purée sauce right in the pot.
- Stir in dried basil, white pepper, fresh herbs, sugar, red pepper flakes (if using), and season with salt and black pepper to your liking.
Cooled sauce can be poured into freezer bags and frozen for several months. A great project for summer when tomatoes are coming ripe off the vine!
Keywords: pizza sauce, marinara sauce, homemade tomato sauce, roma tomatoes, homemade pizza