Rustic Homemade Pizza

Late Sunday afternoon …

As the warm Washington rays of sunshine penetrate the cotton-like clouds, I feel little bursts of heat lick my face.  I love having a large patio versus a deck.  Being on a patio allows me feel closer to nature’s level and it is here where I feel most inspired.  The moss-laden branches tell a story about the forest surrounding where I now call home.  I lay down and gaze upward.  The vast contrast of the vivid Crayola blue sky and the varying greens of the forest are picturesque.  Two majestic bald eagles soar far above me, in perfect rhythmic harmony.

I tried this delicious new melon, which seemed fitting for a warm and refreshing day.  The Juan/Canary Melon is a delicate, tangy cross between a cantaloupe and honeydew melon.  It has the slightly softer texture of a cantaloupe, but the coloring of a honeydew.  I adore fresh fruit and this time of year it is so abundant.  I love experimenting with new foods and summer seems to be an optimal season to partake in an unexplored bounty.

Nature has inspired me to create a canvas on pizza dough for dinner this evening.  I still have fresh ricotta cheese leftover and I feel inspired to create a cook’s masterpiece.

I always make my own homemade pizza dough.  Once again, in following my mom’s deep rooted theory about not altering perfection, the best, most consistent dough I have ever made is “Joy of Cooking’s Pizza Dough.

Pizza Dough
By Joy of Cooking

Combine in a large bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer and let stand until the yeast is dissolved, about 5 minutes:
1 1⁄3 cups warm (105° to 115°F) water
1 package (2 1⁄4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 1⁄2 to 3 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
(1 tablespoon sugar) (I omit)

Mix by hand or on low speed for about 1 minute. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic.

My husband and I prefer a nice, thin crust pizza so I usually divide the dough in half at this point and immediately roll it out on a floured surface (preferably granite or marble as it maintains a coldness that allows the dough to not stick).   I always freeze the other half of the dough for future use (place it in a gallon size freezer bag).

Homemade Pizza Sauce
1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
6 cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat bring tomatoes to a simmer and let most of the juices evaporate.  Turn heat to low and add the garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes.  Continue cooking for approximately 1 minute.  Remove from heat and add basil.

Lightly oil a pizza pan or use a pizza stone sans oil.  Place the dough on the pan or stone.  Using a silicone basting brush, lightly brush the dough with oil (so the sauce doesn’t make the crust doughy).  Spread the chunky pizza sauce over the oil.  This isn’t a sauce you’re likely used to from a commercial pizzeria, but a homemade, chunky sauce with an abundance of flavor.

Pizza Toppings

Rustic Homemade Pizza

1 cup Fresh Ricotta (click here for recipe), crumbled
1 cup Arugula
5 oz. Capicola, thinly sliced
5 Cremini Mushrooms, sliced
1-1/2 cups Mozzarella, grated
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, Grated

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Continue following recipe instructions noted above, with the Homemade Pizza Sauce.  Add ½ the crumbled fresh ricotta, place arugula in a single layer, top with Capicola, mushrooms, and the remaining fresh ricotta cheese, followed with mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Bake for 12 minutes, rotate pizza 180 degrees, and bake for an additional 12 minutes.



4 responses to this post.

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