If I had to choose a last meal, it would be pizza. I'm not talking about greasy, cheesy, heavy delivery pizza (which even I can admit is good once in a while). No, I'd choose a pizza made from scratch with the simplest of toppings.
I'm a die-hard pizza lover, so it's never a happy day when I realize I'm out of store-bought dough (which I've stashed away in the freezer in case of pizza emergencies). This was a dilemma I faced over and over, until I learned from Deb that pizza dough is actually incredibly easy to make.
Sure, it takes some time and patience (and overcoming the all-too-common fear of yeast), but the ability to have a meal from just a bit of flour, yeast, and water is completely liberating. It's a great feeling to not have to depend on store-bought dough to get your pizza fix.
What's more is that you can freeze the dough and take it out in the morning, let it thaw all day, and you'll have a fast, easy, and impressive meal ready to go when you get home from work. Find this simple recipe when you keep reading.
A simple tomato sauce can be made with canned whole tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil (I've included this recipe as well) while the dough rests and rises. This sauce works well on dishes like pasta or baked chicken, but I think it truly shines on pizza.
Play around with your toppings and adjust them according to your taste preferences. I often use whatever I have in my refrigerator, starting with a layer of tomato sauce, some capers for a salty, briny bite, cheese, and sliced onions. I also like to add sautéed kale, olives, and mushrooms whenever I have them.
I like to make this recipe twice and either freeze one of the doughs or cook up two pizzas. I mean, let's face it, leftover pizza (especially leftover homemade pizza) makes the tastiest breakfast or lunch the following day.
1 1/2 cups flour (can replace up to half of this with whole-wheat flour)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
1 tablespoon olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 450°F.
- Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl.
- Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can.
- Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead everything into a homogeneous ball.
- Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl where you had mixed it. Dump the dough in and turn it over so all sides are coated. Cover it in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.
- Dump it back on the floured counter and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.
- Lightly oil a baking sheet.
- Roll out the pizza, toss on whatever toppings and seasonings you like.
- Bake it for about 15 minutes until the crust begins to blister and the cheese is bubbly.
Makes 1 thin-crust pizza.
- Main Dishes, Pizza
1 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes (preferably San Marzanos)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, peeled
- Empty tomatoes into a large sauce pan, and over medium-high heat, add salt and olive oil.
- Fill one-third of the tomato can with water, and add to the pot.
- Grate garlic into the pot and stir.
- Let tomatoes cook down for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and pressing tomatoes into the side of the pot with your spoon to break them apart.
- Remove from the heat when the sauce is no longer watery and the tomatoes have broken down.
Makes 2-3 cups.