Pizza Meets Garden

Now that it’s July and the farmer’s markets have lots of tomatoes I feel safe using the last of the tomatoes I froze from last year’s crop.  Pizza sauce seemed like a good way to use up a bag and clear a little freezer space.  The the big decision – what kind of pizza?  The yellow squash has started coming in and the baby white eggplant is about to take over my house so decision made.  And what a good decision!

I like pizza, maybe more than a lot of people.  I’ll be the first to tell you that sometimes I crave a Pizza Hut thin crust sausage or pepperoni pizza.  And I love the more gourmet pizzas that I can get at Bottoms Up, Superstars or even Bertuccis.  But homemade pizza is in a class by itself.   Truly.   Home grown tomatoes and garden veggies just can’t be beat for flavor and richness.  This is another place I can remind myself that making homemade food is worth it.  It just is.

Making your own pizza sauce isn’t hard.  I like mine a little chunky so it’s more like an ingredient than just something in the background.  I thawed a bag of whole, peeled red tomatoes and dumped the contents into a cast iron skillet.  You could do the same with a can of whole or diced tomatoes.  Add some garlic and bring them to a simmer.  Cook them down until the consistency is right.  You may even add some additional water and cook them down again.  The longer they simmer the more intense the tomato flavor will be.  I used fresh basil and oregano from the herb garden. Remember if you’re using fresh herbs add them towards the end of the cooking.  If you’re using dried put them in at the beginning.

I did make my own crust tonight.  I like a thin and crispy crust and have never found a frozen or refrigerated crust that quite does it for me.  Not long ago I found a recipe for a no rise yeast crust that works really well.  The great thing about this recipe is that you can make a double batch and freeze what you don’t need.  Since it doesn’t rise it really isn’t altered at all by freezing.  Check out the Thin Pizza Crust courtesy of Robbie’s Recipe Collection.

Today I made the dough early so it did rise for a couple of hours.  I punched it down and then rolled it out thin.  I put it in the convection oven on the Pizza setting so I could be sure it was crispy on the bottom.  If you do that just poke a few holes in it with a forks so you don’t have big bubbles in your crust.  Let it cook until the bottom just starts to brown and then set it aside.  Alternatively heat a pizza stone while you’re rolling out the crust.  The dry heat from the stone will crisp the bottom of the crust.  The rising allows the gluten to develop so the crust will be a little chewy, but rolling it out thin and pre-baking keeps it crispy top and bottom.  Really, really good.  Believe me, no one is more surprised than I am that I have produced a pizza crust that I’d be happy to serve friends and family.  Maybe my combative relationship with yeast is taking a turn for the better.

I used a little shredded mozzarella on the bottom so the vegetables would stay put when I cut my pizza.  I did sear the squash, zucchini and eggplant a little before putting them on the pizza, but it isn’t necessary.  Grill your veggies for a little more depth of flavor if you’re so inclined.  What else can I say?  You know how to make pizza.  And you probably have everything you could possibly need in your pantry and fridge.  It’s a great meal for those nights when you just can’t face real meal planning or a trip to the grocery store.  If you need another pizza suggestion check out the post from April 8.

Good? So, so good. I’m so pleased with this crust!
Easy? It really is. Make it easier by using a pre-made crust if you like.
Good for company? Sure. Have some friends over for movie night or make small crusts and let everyone make their own pizza.
Special shopping? Absolutely not.

So I’m going to sit down now and watch Adventures in Babysitting and have another piece.  A darn good Sunday evening.


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