I love pizza. I think it just might be the world's most perfect food. I mean, who doesn't like a good slice of gooey hot cheese with an assortment of toppings? Pizza, in my opinion, should be its own food group.
When I was growing up, my parents didn't cook dinner on Friday nights. It was usually tuna fish sandwich night, but every once in a while we went out for pizza. THOSE were my favorite Friday nights.....coming home after 2 hours of swim practice, tired but excited for the weekend, and finding out that instead of eating tuna we were having pizza!
Now that I am an adult, I still have the same passion for pizza. In fact, that was one of the best parts about going to college in San Francisco....you can buy pizza by the slice there! The guys who worked at my local SF pizza joint even knew me by name. :)
Recently I decided I wanted to try to make pizza at home. I thought it would be fun, impress my husband, and I could make it a bit healthier (always a bonus right?). I swapped regular fatty pepperoni for turkey pepperoni (only 80 calories verses 140), low fat mozeralla and a whole wheat crust. Here's my recipe for a healthier take on my Friday night favorite.
Whole Wheat Pizza Crust (adapted from this recipe)
1/2 cup warm water
1 envelop instant quick rise yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp if you are using jarred yeast)
1 1/4 cups water, room temp
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
Pour the warm water into a bowl (I use my 6 cup liquid measuring cup) and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5 minutes, allowing the yeast to dissolve and react with the water.
Using your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour and salt together until just combined.
Add the room temperature water and olive oil to the yeast water. Gently mix together and then pour into the flour. Fit the mixer with the kneading attachment and knead until it forms a ball and all the flour is incorporated (about 5 minutes). The dough should be smooth and elastic.
Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray (I use Smart Balanace Omega spray). Place the kneaded dough in the greases bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside and let rise, until the dough has doubled in size (about an hour or so). If you are NOT using quick rise yeast, it will need about 2 hours to rise.
Place your pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. You will need to preheat the stone for about 30 minutes.
Push the dough down with your hands so it deflates. Tear the dough into 2 equal pieces, shape them into balls, and cover with a damp towel to rest for about 30 minutes (do this while the oven is preheating).
Using your hands, stretch out the dough to the desired shape and size of your pizza. I stretched mine a lot to make a thin crust pizza. Top with pizza sauce and your desired toppings.
Here's my pizza before going in the oven. It's topped with my pizza sauce (see recipe below), fresh basil from my garden, low-fat mozzerall, and turkey pepperoni.
Sprinkle the heated pizza stone with cornmeal and place the pizza on top. Cook for about 8 minutes....until the cheese is melted and slightly browned.
Here's the finished product. I had some trouble getting it in the oven, so the ingredients slide all over the place, leaving a not-so-pretty pizza, but the end results *tasted* great!! My husband even said he liked it almost more than our favorite local pizza joint. :)
Homemade Pizza Sauce(I decided to whip up some semi-homemade sauce to take advantage of my herb garden)
1 can tomato paste (plus half a can of watter)
2 handfuls fresh oregano leaves
7-8 fresh basil leaves
Heat the tomato paste and water in a saucepan. Stir to combine the water and tomato paste, thinning out the paster to a sauce-like consistency (add more or less water based on your desired thickness.)
Chop the fresh herbs and add to the tomato paste. Add a dash or two of pepper. Stir to combine and heat through.
Set aside until ready to spread on the pizza.