|The finished product. Healthy, energizing AND yummy.|
My husband and I were cleaning up dishes tonight and I realized that my viewpoint has changed when thinking about what to make for dinner. In the past I would find some kind of meat or fish in the freezer or grocery store and then plan a meal around it. Once a meal was constructed in my mind I would then find a vegetable side to accompany it. What has changed? I realized tonight that I now do quite the opposite. I look into my garden, refrigerator, or pantry and find a vegetable(s) and that instead becomes the main course. I still include a vegetable side dish but now veggies dominate our entire meal. This is quite a mind shift for me and very revolutionary. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not turning into a vegan or even a vegetarian overnight. However, I have been trying to incorporate more plants into my diet and I will admit that Mark Bittman has influenced me in this somewhat. I still love meat. I just eat less of it and what I do eat is from sources I know and trust. In short, meat accompanies dinner sometimes but it very rarely dominates it these days. However, though my perspective on food has been altered somewhat, my passion for good tasting, locally sourced food has not. Here's I've been up to recently.
I've been experimenting with breads lately. I've never felt completely competent around breads so I've been experimenting for a few months. Here's a link to my other blog/website about how this new obsession began. deconstructingdairy.weebly.com After searching the internet for well rated cookbooks I finally found Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzber, M.D., Zoe Francois. I checked it out at the library and after a few renewals have now decided to purchase it from Village Books. They have a nice chapter about flatbreads and pizzas and so I decided to give homemade pizza a shot.
Now pizza is faster to make than bread but there's a trick. Pizza doesn't have a second rising like bread does and you really need to have everything ready and prepared right before it goes into the oven. You don't want the dough to sit and rest. It will start to stick to your prepared surface and if you have placed sauce on your dough it will get soggy quite fast. So get everything ready ahead of time. That means:
- pizza dough
- toppings (cooked or raw)
- preheated oven (450 degrees)
So lets get started. Most of the ingredients I used here are local and nearly all of the veggies are from my CSA box from.Acme Farms and Kitchen. I decided to use a red sauce for this pizza. Here's how I made it.
Step 1: Basic Red Sauce *local ingredients are highlighted in green
- 14.5 oz. can of Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large clove of garlic
- dried oregano (about 1/4 tsp.)
- fresh basil (2 fat leaves)
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
|Here's everything you need.|
Now, first heat up a small amount of olive oil in your small pan. Keep the oil on medium heat, smash the garlic and toss it in the oil. Let the garlic brown for about 10 seconds and add the crushed tomatoes. Be careful the oil will splatter a bit. Swirl a little water in the can, swish it around and dump the leftover tomato residue into the pan. Don't waste those tomatoes. They're not cheap.
|My husband dried this oregano from our garden. When I want to use it I squish it with my hands over whatever I'm making.|
|Remember you can use this red sauce for pasta, lasagna, sandwiches etc. Just remember to reduce it and/or blend it to suit the dish you are making. I usually make a ton of this and freeze it. Then I thaw it out when life gets really busy.|
You can blend the sauce into submission, but for pizza I like a bit of texture so I choose not to. I also reduce this sauce a lot more than usual. I like to make it pretty thick because I don't want to risk having a soggy pizza crust. No one likes that. Eeeew.
Step 2: 100% Whole Wheat Pizza Dough *local ingredients
Before I begin this segment, I must tell you that this dough takes time. Plan ahead and make it at home so it will taste better. However, if you are feeling spontaneous or just don't have the time at the moment here's another suggestion. Go to your favorite pizza place and ask them to sell you their dough. Most places will sell it to you for very little. Buy a few pieces of dough and freeze some for another day. Most places will not only do this but it is far cheaper and better than anything you'll buy in the store. In Bellingham, LaFiama does this but their dough is not 100% whole wheat and this one is!
|It helps to whisk the dry ingredients together before you add your liquids.|
This 100% whole wheat dough can be used for more than just pizza. I use it for focaccia and other artisan breads too. Once the dough is made and has rested it is super quick to make pizza. If you want to make this and save time, make the dough on the weekend and let it rest in the refrigerator until you're ready to make pizza. After that, it takes the same amount of time as any other dough and it will be homemade and it will be better for your health. Remember that whole grains fill you up faster than refined grains but have the same calories. However this dough is really good. I never sacrifice taste for caloric content. That's just silly and I refuse to live like that. Healthy yes! But it has to taste good for me to recommend it.
- 7 cups whole wheat flour (I used Bob's Red Mill. It's reasonably local because it comes from Oregon but usually I prefer Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill)
- 1 1/2 tbsp. granulated yeast
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten (I bough this at The Market at Lakeway, another local grocery store)
- 3 1/2 cups lukewarm water
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (Mediterranean Specialties)
|Yes. I mix my dough in a BIG food safe bucket.|
Once everything is mixed, cover it with a towel, lid or plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 2 hours at room temperature.
|Before rising: Only 2 quarts.|
Make sure that whatever is coving your dough isn't airtight. That part is really important. After 2 hours your dough is ready for pizza. If you don't want to use it right away put it in the fridge. It will be easier to handle once the dough is cold.
|After rising: Yowza!|
When you are ready to make some pizza, grab a wad (yes, I said WAD) of dough from your bucket. It should be about the size of a small grapefruit. Toss a small amount of flour onto your work surface and dough and roll out with a rolling pin. This dough rises a bit in the oven so roll it extra flat for a thinner crust. With time and experimentation you will find what you like best.
When the dough is rolled out to your desired thickness, gently place onto a piece of parchment paper. I prefer Reynolds Parchment Paper. Place your sauce evenly onto your dough and then begin to add your toppings.
|Cut the parchment paper to fit the size of your dough.|
|Schmear on the sauce.|
|Add your toppings.|
Step 3: Toppings (cooked or raw)
Now I'm not much of one for the traditional overly cheesy American style pizza. I like to be creative and since I'm lactose intolerant I have to be very particular about what cheese I do include. Sometimes I don't add cheese at all. Thankfully, I can tolerate goat cheese so that's what I used. The beauty of pizza is that you can put pretty much anything on it. I tend to like cooked toppings but raw ones are nice too. Be creative. Use what is in season and what you can find locally.
For this pizza here is what I used. *local ingredients
- Cooked garbanzo beans (Haricot Farms)
- Goat cheese feta Gothberg Farms (This stuff is gold and this is my favorite goat dairy!)
- Cooked spinach from my CSA
- pitted Kalmata olives.
|Add a bit of olive oil to your pan, cook your washed spinach until it looks very dry and then salt/pepper to taste.|
|I mixed the rest of my toppings in the hot pan but turned off the burner. The residual heat will evaporate any additional moisture.|
If any of your toppings are cooked, be sure to let them thoroughly cool before placing on your pizza. Certain toppings really require cooking to make sure the water they contain is released before they are put in the oven. This is especially important for people who like vegetables on their pizza. If you just want the plain old pepperoni and cheese this won't really apply to you. However, the pizza I made here is vegetarian and therefore has more veggies. I don't want those goodies to get my crust soggy so I cook and cool then beforehand. Examples of toppings that need to be dehydrated through the cooking process are:
- spinach or other greens like kale or swiss chard
- mushrooms of any kind
- onions, leeks (alliums)
Slide the pizza onto a pizza stone or cookie sheet and cook in a 450 degree oven for 5-20 minutes.
5 min. for thin pizza and 20 for super thick.
Keep an eye on your pie until the center is bubbly (the dough not the cheese) and the outer crust is hard. Let cool on a cutting board for a few minutes and then feast!
I usually pair my pizza with an additional salad and a glass of red wine. Beer can be fun too but pizza was made to go with red wine. Remember Italians had their hands on this creation WAY before us.
Be creative. Experiment with toppings and sauces.
What's on your favorite pizza? Tell me because I want to give it a go myself. Better yet. Send me a picture at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let's vote on our favorite.