Cooking every single day can be tiring. You have to plan ahead of time, you are busy, but there are hungry mouths at home that have to be fed. So, going for pizza from time to time can be a life-saver.
If you ask me, when it comes to favorite things to eat, pizza is definitely in the top 5. Who doesn’t love a nice crust and some melted cheese all over? I know I do. Another thing I know for sure is that, no matter how full I am, I can always make room for a slice of homemade pizza.
As one of the most popular recipes in the world, pizza dates way back. Its history is filled with endless stories, legends and anecdotes. Greeks and Romans created vast variety of pizza prototypes, but it was Neapolitans who are responsible for the modern pizza we know today.
Can you guess which type of pizza was created first? It was a variant of Margherita. The tale says that Queen Margherita of Savoy asked chefs to come up with a dish for the people. It was pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito who came up with the idea first. Way to go chef!
That classic Italian pizza recipe with green basil, white mozzarella and red tomato sauce even represents the colors of the Italian flag. If that is not Italian enough, I don’t know what is. Now let’s roll that dough, top it and put it in the oven. I can smell the pizza already.
The ideal homemade pizza dough would be a thin circle with a raised edge around 12 inches in diameter. But don’t worry, any other kite shaped or diamond shaped dough would taste just as tasty. Stretching the dough requires certain skills, so until you acquire those skills, just use a rolling pin.
Everyone should have a favorite dough recipe. I will share one with you which takes around 15 minutes to rise and it’s basically impossible to mess up.
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 tbsp yeast
- 1 tbsp salt
- 5 cups flour
- 4 tbsp olive oil
Method of preparation
First mix the warm water and the yeast and let it rest for 5 minutes for the yeast to proof. Add half of the flour (2½ cups) into the proofed yeast and mix well. After that is done, add the additional flour and the salt, and knead until smooth. Cover the dough with a wrap or a towel and let it rest for up to 20 minutes.
Use the olive oil to coat the bottom of the baking sheet or the pizza pan. That being done, take the dough out of the bowl and add additional flour to remove the stickiness. The dough is now ready for stretching.
Split the dough into two equal halves, roll each very thin and place it on the baking sheet which was previously greased. Preheat the oven to 400 F and enjoy topping your dough. Each pizza should take 15-20 minutes. Most importantly, don’t forget to leave space near the edges for the crispy crust to form.
You’ve done the hard part. Now it’s time for the fun part – topping your pizza. I am sure millions of ideas and combos come to mind. What to use as a spread? What herbs should you use? What type of meat? And last but not least, what type of cheese? Cause pizza and stretching cheese are basically synonyms. Oh well, you know what I mean.
First thing you put on a pizza dough is sauce. Tomato sauce is the most commonly used spread. There are tons of different types you can find at the store, but why not make it yourself? SImply put some canned tomatoes in a food processor, add some oil and salt, and voilà…your sauce is ready.
If you are going for a healthier option, you can use pesto. Pesto is made out of basil leaves, crushed garlic, grated parmesan cheese, nuts, salt, and olive oil. Spread it all over the dough with the back of a spoon and you are ready to continue with the other toppings.
The star of the show is, without a doubt, the cheese. Make sure you choose the correct one. Think of the type of pie you are preparing, who is going to eat the pizza, what’s the occasion, what the people are drinking etc. The only thing to keep in mind is, make sure your cheese melts really well. Other than that, you can hardly go wrong.
The basic type is mozzarella. Used for as long as pizza is around, it can be put fresh and teared up on top of your pizza. Next, you can try gorgonzola cheese. It is very rich in flavor, so you can use way less, but get the same effect. Also, it goes great with fruit.
Ricotta is another great option since it’s low in fat but very creamy and delicious. Grated parmesan, gouda, and cheddar cheese are ideal for getting the melting effect, just to name a few. There are tons of alternatives. Just go with the flow.
Even though some people like their pizza without any protein on it, there are some great variations to choose from for those who want it all. Certain toppings, like sausages and meatballs, should be cooked beforehand. Others, like ham, pepperoni, or other cured meat, don’t require cooking ahead of time.
Try pastrami, bacon, prosciutto, Italian salami, or even grilled chicken. If you decide to go with the grilled chicken, make sure you use barbeque sauce on top. The two ingredients are a match made in food heaven. To give you some more ideas, I have to add seafood: smoked salmon, shrimps, anchovies, tuna… The list goes on and on. Sometimes too many options is not a good idea. I hope you managed to make up your mind.
Herbs, veggies, and fruit
Imagine you are having lunch. You also have salad because it’s just not the same without it. Same goes for pizza. It’s the perfect finishing touch. Fresh ingredients like these go under the cheese before baking or fresh on top after baking. There are certain combinations of protein and greens that go perfect together. Use them.
Fruit with any salty combination can be strange for someone who is not used to it. On my trip to the USA, I stayed with a Brazilian family. Once, we had sausages with pineapple for lunch. They just loved it together, but I didn’t. I just finished my lunch and helped myself with the pineapple as a dessert. But, if you are willing to try fruit on your pizza, my suggestions would be figs, apples, pears, or pineapples.
Veggies and herbs give a unique freshness to the pizza. You can go for onion rings, tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, peppers, garlic, and much more. Herbs can easily be added on top of the pizza after you take it out of the oven. Add thyme, rosemary, fresh basil, or rucola. If some of the fresh ingredients take more time to cook, precook them ahead of time. You want that pizza as quick as possible.
This is one of my all time favorite food topics and I really hope you will find it useful and inspiring. Feel free to share what type was a winner for you. I would love to hear all about it.
I believe that food should not only taste good, but make you feel good as well and that is why I am so interested in exploring ingredients, preparing meals, and finding ways to make the whole cooking experience fun and exciting! Being a blogger for MyGreatRecipes unites my two passions – food and writing, and I am enjoying every second of it!