mmmmm…..Pizza!

I love general recipes that basically become dumping grounds for whatever happens to be in my fridge.  I feel so virtuous when I am able to use things up and have the fridge basically cleaned out each week before I go grocery shopping.  Pizza is one of those such recipes.  I can use a bit of this veggie, a bit of this leftover meat, use up and end of cheese here and another one here until I have a tasty concoction that is quite popular with Alex and Walter.

For this pizza, I was feeling very much like making every single possible part from scratch (well I had no pizza crust in the freezer nor tomato sauce in the cupboard so there was some necessity too….).  So from scratch we started.

Pizza Crust

1½ c. warm water
1 t. sugar
¾ T. yeast or 1 yeast packet
1 T. olive oil
4¼ c. flour (can use half spelt and half white)
1½ t. salt

In a two cup measuring cup, combine the sugar, yeast and warm water. Let sit until it is foamy and bubbly. In the meantime combine flour and salt in food processor. Then add oil to yeast and pour yeast through the feed tube to mix. Then put dough in a bowl and cover with a hand towel and let rise until the dough doubles (about an hour). This recipe will make enough for two pizzas so you can freeze one for use next time.

Tomato Sauce

strainer full of tomatoes cut up into quarters
swirl of olive oil

I had some tomatoes that really needed to be picked and used.  I wasn’t quite up for starting to can them so I thought I would make some sauce for the pizza out of them.  We have four types of plants this year: roma, cherry, heirloom and brandywine and I used some of each for this sauce.  I know that some tomatoes are better than others for sauce technically, but I find they all make tasty sauce and it is just a matter of needing to boil the sauce a bit longer (if the tomatoes are really juicy) at times.  So I sent Alex and Walter out to pick me a strainer full of tomatoes.  Walter loves to pick tomatoes, but hasn’t quite identified the difference between red and green so he has to be carefully watched.  Then Alex cut them up and we tossed them into some warm olive oil in our dutch oven on medium heat.  I smashed them up good with my spoon until they became soupy.  Then I let them cook for about 10 minutes.  Then take the tomatoes out and pour them through a food mill to remove the skins from the rest of the tomatoes.  Make sure not to use too big or too small a hole on the strainer for the food mill.  I found that the middle disc seemed to work the best.  It is important to have the skins separate, but not to lose all the tasty tomato parts.  Put the remaining sauce on the stove and boil over medium high until you have reduced the sauce by at least half.  Beyond that use your own preference.  In my opinion pizza sauce should be thick enough to spread so I like to boil most of the water off.

Now take your pizza dough and place it on a floured surface.  Make sure that your rolling pin is dusted with flour and roll out your dough to fit the size of your pizza pan.  Then take your rolling pin and place it at one edge of your pizza.  Take a metal spatula or a pastry scraper and reach underneath the dough and roll it up onto the pin.  Continue until the entire dough is rolled onto the pin.  Then pick it up and transfer it to your pizza pan and roll it back out again.  Next spread the sauce onto the dough.

Then the fun begins.  Take inventory of your fridge of what you would like to use up and grab it and put it on the counter so you don’t forget it.  In this pizza I used:

ground sausage
mushrooms
a roasted bell pepper
shredded mozzarella and parmesan mixed together

I like to begin with the meat and then saute each veggie separately.  Begin by setting the oven on a low broil and putting your pepper on the top rack right next to the broiler.  Broil for about 5-10 minutes depending on the size of the pepper, then turn the pepper and repeat until the whole pepper has that nice roasted look and smell to it.  When you take out the pepper heat the oven to 400°.  Once the pepper is roasting throw the ground sausage into the fry pan and begin to cook it.  Once it is cooked, take it out and put it in a prep bowl.  Saute the mushrooms until they just begin to release their juices then take them out and pop them into a prep bowl.  Next slice up the roasted pepper and saute it slightly and then put it in a prep bowl also.

I have become a huge fan of prep bowls lately.  It turns out that if you have everything ready to go when you need it the cooking goes much more smoothly.  Also if I do most of the chopping at once, I can have some leisure to stop and read Walter a book or play with him as he gets jealous of the attention those veggies are getting!  Now spread the sausage, mushrooms, roasted peppers and top with the shredded mozzarella and parmesan.

Now stick the whole pizza in the oven for  15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and both the cheese and crust begin to brown a bit.

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