Pizza, for all those who like the three principle tenets of Italian cuisine, tomatoes, bread, and cheese, is a wonderfood. It can staunch a craving, it can feed the masses, it can comfort one from just about any malady.
That said, so much of the pizza available in this here ole U S of A is fairly terrible.
Though pizza made in a standard oven will not be as crispy, lightly charred, bubbly, and chewy as the crust of a brick oven, it is perfectly customizable, cheaper, and far far tastier than whatever you might have delivered. I, as a major veggie eater and cheese lover, enjoy particularly the freedom of endless possibilities when putting together pizzas. Each one is a blank slate to dazzle and excite your tastebuds. Get in it.
For ultimate crust optimization, make the dough about 18 hours in advance, then refrigerate until about an hour before you plan to assemble. That said, the dough can be made on as short notice as 45 minutes or purchased if circumstances call for it. You can get as fancy as you like, but the dough can be very simple and low maintenance; just flour, yeast, salt, water, and a splash of oil.
Top your pies with everything in your fridge and pantry. Not all on one pie, but get creative. It tastes good.
Makes 2 10-14 inch pizzas. Double, triple, quadruple as needed.
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 c water
1 tsp salt
1 tbs olive oil (or any oil, or none at all!)
4-6 c flour (any sort you like. AP is easiest/most reliable, but I always use a mix of whatever I have on hand)
Dissolve yeast in warm water, let sit for 10 minutes.
Stir in 1 c of flour, then add oil and salt. Mix again, then add flour in 1 c increments until a sticky mass is formed, but still stir-able/movable with a spoon or spatula. Coating your hands in flour, dust the dough with more flour and begin to knead, either in the bowl or on a counter or cutting board, for about minutes, or until the dough no longer sticks to your hands and can be formed into a ball. Place back in bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and let rest for at least one hour, or up to two days (refrigerate after an hour if not using that day.
When ready to assemble pizzas, preheat oven as hot as it goes (most stop at 550 F).
Split dough into equal pieces, reshape each into a ball. Flatten and let sit for a minute or two. Return to each ball three to five times, gently stretching it into a large and larger circle.
Top and bake for 12-18 minutes, depending on oven fluctuation, placement, vessel cooked on, preference, etc. Keep an eye on those babies and let them cool 2-5 minutes before attempting to slice--it will save you much drippy cheesy mess.
Gather any and all ingredients in house that sound tasty. These might include but are not limited to:
Cheese (all kinds. Really, Get funky, though less is sometimes more--with non-gooey sorts a dab here and there or a thin swipe can lend a whole lot of flavor with minimal ounce-age)
Fruits (think thinly sliced apple, figs, pear, the world is your vegetarian oyster!)
Roasted or fried veggies (Again, any and all. Cooking the veggies prior to poppin' them on a pizza enhances flavor and reduces water, meaning your pizza will be packed with flavor and not swimming in weird steamed-broccoli water)
Nuts (walnuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, really anything fairly soft makes for a nice crunchy contrast and toast deliciousness!)
Caramelized or pickled onions, roasted garlic
Spreads (pesto, olive tapenade, white bean spread...endless salty possibilities)
Arugula salad. For after the goods are baked, naturally. This addition will change your world, so be prepared.