For meal number 3 in the Cuizoo Arsenal, we are going to do a pizza. I feel sort of silly talking about pizza, because, come on, it’s pizza. Crust, toppings, cheese. Pretty straightforward stuff. But yet, we still order it and pay $15 for something that (with a little forethought) can be made in about 30-40 minutes (of active cooking time) for half the cost of delivery. And the end result will have completely controlled ingredients (organic produce, no preservatives, whole grain, etc.) and surely taste better. The last time I checked, I don’t think Papa Johns offered caramelized onions as a topping. And I don’t mean to look down my nose at Papa Johns, because there is a time and a place for delivery pizza and we all know that their garlic butter is pretty much made up of crack cocaine. But, there is no massive conspiracy preventing you from trying to make it on your own. And kids absolutely love making their own pizzas for dinner.
So, let’s start with the crust. This is the main reason I own a bread maker. It is fantastic for this purpose because you can use it on the “Dough” setting, dump your ingredients in, turn it on, and in 90 minutes you have pizza crust ready to bake. I like that I can use organic, whole grain flours and I can throw everything in after the kids get home from school and it just gets mixed and kneaded without having to think about it. But you have other options here … many pizza shops will sell you a ball of dough and most grocery stores carry pre-made pizza dough as well. And if you aren’t pressed for time or don’t have a breadmaker, you can certainly make pizza dough by hand too. I should add that the key to whole grain pizza (in my opinion) is to roll the dough *very* thin, so it is not too dense and “whole wheaty.”
Next, we need to talk sauce. Or in this case, the lack of sauce. This is a white pizza and the more I eat it, the more I don’t like sauce on my pizza. I usually let the kids make their own mini pizzas and they always want sauce, but this time they tried the white and were converts. It is really delicious on its own or with the greens and onions.
And finally, toppings. I really don’t need to provide instruction on pizza toppings, do I? You know the things you like, so just use that stuff. But I will put in a vote for the sauteed greens. Spinach, chard, kale, beet greens, etc. all work very well on a white pizza and while kids may not love it at first, most will come around. It’s a great way to get a super nutritious vegetable into a meal they really like. Pizza is also a great way to use up leftovers for toppings … BBQ Chicken Pizza with Smoked Gouda which only requires a bit of shredded leftover chicken, Grilled Veggie Pizza with the vegetables left over from the previous night, Sauteed Mushroom Pizza with some Fontina Cheese, or just a plain old Cheese Pizza that uses up all the odds and end pieces of cheese sitting in your refrigerator.
Give it a try and you’ll start to realize that it’s a great middle of the week recipe. It requires more “unactive” cooking time than some things, but it is still very easy and always a favorite with the kids.
Whole Grain White Pizza with Carmelized Onions and Garlicky Spinach
1/2 t salt
3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t yeast
1 cup warm water
2 T olive oil
1 large onion
1 T Sweet Marsala Wine
8 ounces fresh spinach
1/3 cup olive oil (plus extra for cooking)
2 large cloves of garlic
Salt and Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
16 ounces mozzarella cheese (pre-grated if you like)
1. Mix crust ingredients in the pan of a breadmaker and set it to the “Dough” setting which typically takes 90 minutes. (Alternatively, you can mix the dough by hand and do at least two cycles of kneading and rising.)
2. While the pizza dough is doing its thing (or about 30-40 minutes before you are ready to eat), thinly slice the onion. Wash the spinach to remove any sediment and set in colander to drain. Finely chop the two garlic cloves.
3. In a medium saute pan over medium high heat, heat a bit of olive oil and cook the onion until it begins to brown (about 4-5 minutes). Add 1 T Marsala Wine, 2 T of water, and salt and pepper to taste. Scrape up any browned bits and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding a bit more water if the onions begin to stick. (This is a quick method for caramelized onions, if you like you can do a more traditional 30 minute method.) Set the caramelized onions aside.
4. Meanwhile, grate the mozzarella cheese if it is not pre-grated. (I should add that freshly grated always tastes better to me.) Make the garlic oil by mixing 1/3 cup of olive oil with half of the chopped garlic, 1/8 t of salt, freshly ground pepper, and a few red pepper flakes. Warm in the microwave for about 1 minute at 50% power and set aside.
5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In the same saute pan, heat a bit more olive oil with the remaining half of the chopped garlic. Roughly chop the spinach (it is OK if it still has water clinging to it) and saute for about 2 minutes until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
6. When the dough is done in the breadmaker, split the ball roughly in half. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out half of the dough directly on a parchment-lined sheet until it is very thin (about a 1/4 of an inch thick — at this thickness, this recipe usually makes two oblong pizzas that are roughly 10 inches by 13 inches). Drizzle with a bit of the olive oil mixture, bake for about 8 minutes, and remove from oven.
7. Top pre-baked crust with caramelized onions and spinach. Season well with salt and pepper. Sprinkle about half of the mozzarella cheese all over. Generously drizzle all over with about half of the olive oil mixture. Bake for an additional 13-15 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven until golden and crisp. You can broil for a bit at the very end if you like. (Because this makes two pizzas, you can either do two at at time on separate sheets, or you can make one and repeat the process for the second dough ball, using the remaining half of the cheese and oil mixture.)