ORIGINAL RECIPE: None. This is my own.
TIMING: 1/2 an hour, with a bit more time for preheating the oven
TOOLS: A pan that will do for a pan pizza, which will take some experimentation to find
COOK TYPE: Oven
HEALTH: Well, it’s pretty much homemade. But it is pizza. The health level will depend largely on your topping choices and the quality of your dough and sauce. If you play it right, pizza can be a great, healthy, family dinner.
EXPERIENCE: Just about every Friday night at our house is Pizza and a Movie Night. If I try to change things up or–heaven forbid–serve something besides pizza, there is a mutiny. So I keep whipping up my easy pan pizza, Friday night after Friday night, and the kids keep loving it. In fact, when asked their favorite pizza, they say “Moms.”
Now, that’s a bit of a thing, because my Friday night standard pizza is sorta not that special. Normally, it begins with a pre-made dough, then proceeds with a jarred sauce and tops out at part-skim mozzarella. It all began years ago with a desire to have a really simple meal that could be brought home from the grocery store on grocery day and whipped up while I was putting away the groceries. For less than seven bucks–at the time–I could buy a pre-made ball of dough from the deli counter and a couple other ingredients and call it dinner for less than the price of a take-out pizza (of the sort of caliber I would accept).
Then the pizza stuck with us. We made some adjustments. We tried to change some other things and found the original was better. You, too, will have to do some playing with your store-bought pizza dough, especially when it comes to the pan that you use and the temperature of your oven. We have found that there is exactly one baking pan in the house that gives us a crispy crust that does not stick to the pan. Unfortunately, it has high sides, so it’s hard to get to the pizza. Maybe one day we’ll find the perfect pan…
Here are the rest of the rules: use your dough cold. I don’t know why, but this has really worked the best for us. Also, make sure your oven is completely preheated. Also, cut and dish up the pizza pretty much the second it comes out of the oven. Also, cook vegetable toppings ahead of time, especially anything that will release a lot of moisture (like mushrooms, bell peppers, or tomatoes). For the most part, you can accomplish this by sauteing them in a saute pan with some oil for just a few minutes. Also–and I know you won’t believe me but I promise you will come to believe me if you ignore my advice–do not overdo it on the sauce or the cheese. You may think the more cheese the better, but 8 ounces for one ball of dough is just right, as is about 2/3 can of pizza sauce.
Feel free to mess around with the toppings. One of our favorites was soppressata and fresh fig, although I also like a good ground beef and cheddar or jalapeno and garlic. The photos here are for ham, prune, and red pepper, with each of us dictating our own fourth of the pizza.
NOTE: We prefer Muir Glen’s Pizza Sauce or Newman’s Own Tomato Basil Marinara. As for the crust, we really like Whole Foods dough or homemade, and we have not had any luck with Trader Joe’s.
For the extra sauce, serve it on the side for dipping your crust, because what else are you going to do with it?
- Preheat the oven to 550F, or, if your oven goes higher then try that.
- Take a cool-cold pre-made pizza dough ball (for a large pizza) and hold it up so that gravity starts stretching the dough downward. If you are a professional, throw the dough up to thin it out a bit. If you are not a professional, keep turning the dough around like a steering wheel, letting gravity pull it into a lumpy rectangle shape.
- Set the dough in your pan, then stretch and press it out to the edges.
- Spread on 10 oz pizza sauce then sprinkle on 8 oz grated part skim mozzarella. Top with your chosen toppings.
- Run a thin drizzle of olive oil around the crust of the pizza. Then, eye-balling it, sprinkle the crust with salt, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and sesame seeds. Don’t skimp too much.
- Put the pizza in the preheated oven and lower the heat to 450. The pizza should bake about 20 minutes, but check on it after 10. With a pan pizza, you don’t want to underbake it and end up with a doughy underneath, so push the cheese and toppings to the limit and watch the crust for a nice golden brown color.
- Slice it up and carefully scrape it from the pan. Serve hot.
Serve as is, or with a green salad or antipasto platter. Please do not serve with garlic bread, which is redundant and all wrong in a health sense. Also do not serve it with fried foods, which is too overwhelming on multiple levels.