“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie… that’s amore.”
Every Friday night is pizza night at our house. Matt’s dad started the tradition a long time ago, and it stuck. We used to buy pizza, but these days we’re making our own. It saves us money, gives us control over the ingredients, and turns out tasting better than anything we can buy.
It’s hard not to overeat when you make pizza this good!
Since we have done a lot of trial and error with pizza crust and sauce recipes, we wanted to share our findings with you.
I mean, there’s no reason you shouldn’t benefit from all the pizza we’ve eaten… right? :)
Homemade pizza crust
It all begins with a great crust. One of our favorite ways to make pizza dough uses this Basic Whole Wheat Pizza Dough recipe. We alter the recipe a little, adding about 1 teaspoon each of basil and oregano leaves, and a little extra salt.
However, since purchasing the book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, we employ a much faster technique for making pizza dough. The Whole Grain Artisan Loaf Master Recipe from the book (along with several others) can be used as a delicious stand-in when we already have the dough on hand. We simply pull a large chunk (the size of a small cantaloupe) out of the refrigerator, press the dough out onto a baking stone, and sprinkle some herbs on top. Voila, pizza crust.
No matter which crust we use, we always pre-bake for 6 minutes at 500° before adding toppings. This creates a good base for the toppings and assures a fully-baked crust in the end.
Homemade pizza sauce
With your partially pre-baked crust, you have the perfect canvas for a delicate, fresh pizza sauce that can be thrown together in a blender. Matt came up with this delicious recipe, and we usually make it in large batches so we can freeze a bunch of 1-cup servings (perfect for one pie).
This way we always have homemade pizza sauce on hand. Just thaw it and use. Yummy.
The sauce recipe:
- 1 quart (32 oz.) canned or fresh tomatoes (find organic canned tomatoes here)
- 6 oz. can tomato paste (find organic tomato paste here)
- 1 tsp real sea salt (find unrefined sea salt here)
- 15 cranks fresh ground pepper (about one teaspoon)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 Tbsp olive oil (find unrefined extra virgin olive oil here)
- basil, thyme, oregano (to taste)
Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor (we use and HIGHLY recommend a Vitamix) and it’s ready to use!
This recipe makes enough for about 5 large pizzas and can be doubled if you want to freeze more.
Homemade pizza toppings
Some of the best pizzas are made with unusual ingredients. Use your favorites, or be adventurous and experiment with new and different flavors. Break the pizza into sections if you don’t want to commit to using the same toppings on the entire pie.
On your next homemade pizza night try different combinations of these toppings…
Meat/Poultry/Seafood: Why settle for just pepperoni? Mix things up with bacon, ham, sausage, salami, chicken, chorizo, anchovies, or shrimp.
Veggies and More: Add lots of flavor and nutrients to a pizza with an interesting selection of veggies, fruits, or herbs. Add bell peppers, hot peppers, banana peppers, broccoli, green or black olives, mushrooms, onion, zucchini or yellow squash, pineapple, cilantro, eggplant, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, asparagus, or spinach.
Cheese: Nothing tops off the perfect pizza like the deep, creamy flavors of cheese. Mozzarella is always a favorite, but try adding feta, goat cheese, parmesan, fontina, or gouda.
Bake and rest your pie
After sauce, toppings, and cheese are added, the entire pizza goes back in the oven to bake at 425° for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden and cheese is melted and bubbly. Allow your homemade pizza to rest for a few minutes so it’s easier to cut, serve, and eat.
More tips for perfect homemade pizza
- If using pepperoni, purchase a whole stick in the deli & have them slice it to your liking. We prefer the crispy edges you get when baking very thinly sliced pepperoni.
- Have toppings prepared ahead of time so pizza can be assembled immediately after pre-baking the crust.
- After pre-baking crust, sprinkle a little cheese on crust before topping with sauce to prevent a soggy crust. Work quickly to add sauce and toppings.
- Bake leftover pizza slices on a cookie sheet or hot baking stone for 10 minutes at 350° for a crispy crust and leftovers that are sometimes BETTER than the first time around! Microwaving leftover pizza will create soggy crust – yuck!
We usually pile our pizzas high with fresh veggies and protein, so it’s a stand-alone dish. If you want more, you can serve with a fresh garden salad and breadsticks made from leftover pizza dough.
Do you love playing pizza parlor as much as we do? Tell us about pizza night at your house!
- “Get the Most Nutrition From Your Veggies” on NPR.org
- Recipe Remix from FruitsAndVeggiesMatter.gov
- Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois