Fresh From the Garden Pizza

Unfortunately, our outdoor adventures have been put on hold this week due to the dreary weather. We are hoping this flooding and rain will be out of sight in time for some weekend bouldering and hikes.

However, we have been able to experiment with some cooking and baking. This recipe for pizza we made will be an even bigger hit once you can start up your garden. For the time being, we tried it with grocery store produce, but in the summer you can be sure we will be picking everything completely fresh.

Right now we just used cheese, but it would be nice to try out some garden veggies in the summer. In particular, I’d really like to try a butternut squash sauce with fresh garden squash in the summer! So many summer, dirt filled activities to look forward to.

Pizza

Let’s start with the sauce. The sauce recipe I used was amazing and fun to make. It does come out with a strong, sweet flavor. It is a flavor that would be amazing on pasta or chicken Parmesan. It is very dominating on the pizza. We will be making tweaks with the sugar levels and the amount of sauce we use. We might also consider stronger cheeses for next time. If you like a sweet, powerful sauce, however, you may want to keep it as is. It is very tasty, just not everyone’s ideal taste for pizza. You could also add more or less red flakes for more or less spice, or more or less sugar for more or less sweetness.

To make it:

You need:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (or two or three large cloves of fresh)
1 teaspoon oregano or 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped oregano (if you do pick fresh, add it at the end instead of the beginning).
2 pounds peeled and diced fresh tomatoes
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Black pepper to taste.

This sauce takes an hour and a half to simmer, so put aside time. Your kitchen and maybe even whole house will smell amazing! It does really need every minute of this time, however. It helps it get nice and smooth, as well as flavorful.

Directions:

1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm the olive oil.
2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about a minute. If you’re using dried oregano, this can be added now. If you are using fresh, wait until later.
3. Increase the heat to medium. Add the tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper.
4. Leave over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until boiling. Reduce heat to low for a nice long simmer.
5. Simmer uncovered for 90 minutes.
6. Stir in fresh oregano if you used it.

For the cheese top we got Parmesan, Romano, and Mozzarella fresh and shredded them all ourselves. How much you get really depends on how much you want of the cheese. Remember that it does take some going overboard to get a restaurant look with the cheese. We felt like we were completely smothering the pizza and going crazy, but as you can see from the picture, once it melts it looks pretty normal.

For the crust:

We used a pizza stone and preheated the stone at 500 degrees in the oven while we made the crust.

The crust calls for 1/4 ounce active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup hot water
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Italian seasonings (the seasonings really add a surprising amount of flavor, you want to make sure if you add them you like them. I thought this gave the crust a nice flavor to stand out on its own so it wasn’t boring, normal crust. However, Josh thought it was a bit startling and wasn’t too fond of it.)

Directions

1. Warm the water for about 20 seconds in the microwave. This is standard microwave. If yours is weaker, longer. Stronger maybe less. You don’t want it to be too hot.
2. Dissolve yeast and sugar in water, and allow it to rest for 8 minutes.
3. Combine flour, salt, and Italian seasoning.
4. Pour yeast over flour mixture and mix well with a heavy spoon.
5. If it is super sticky and hard to work with, add more flour. I kept rolling it in bits of flour until it felt workable.
6. Turn dough on to a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.
7. Dust more flour on the surface as needed. (I had to do this a few times) I also dust the rolling pin in flour.
8. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 12 inch of even thickness. It is a thin crust so about 1/4 in thickness works. Flip the dough over to roll both sides.
9. You can cut off excess edges to make a neat circle but we enjoyed letting it stay as is. More personality.
10. Palm down, slide your hands under the dough and lift it carefully. Place it on the hot pizza stone.
11. Bake at 500 degrees F for 4 or 5 minutes. (we might add a little more time next time. Maybe 6 minutes).
12. Remove from the oven and top with whatever toppings you are choosing. The recipe we used said to start with the cheese to prevent it from getting soggy. This seemed weird to us, but we wanted a nice crispy crust. Therefore, we compromised. We covered the bottom in mozzarella. Then put sauce on top and then added the Parmesan and Romano on top. We saved some Parmesan and Romano to add after the pizza was out of the oven for a fresh burst of flavor as well. Whether this prevented the sogginess or something else, I don’t know, but our pizza was very crispy and not soggy at all.
13. Return to oven for 6-8 minutes. Or until the cheese melts and the crust is starting to look golden.

Again it will take some work to perfect. It was our first homemade pizza. However, I think it came out very well for a first time. The crust was crispy, the cheese was good, and the sauce was flavorful. Every thing was well done and delicious. The only thing that needs work is to suit it to personally preferences. Some people like sweet, some salty, etc.

Pizza

The recipes were adapted from: http://www.kitchentreaty.com/our-very-favorite-homemade-pizza-sauce/ and
http://www.food.com/recipe/super-crispy-thin-pizza-crust-290968

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