I grew up loving pizza just like every warm blooded American does. I mean coming from New York City originally as far as I am concerned the best pizza is made in New York City. Actually, whether you are in NYC or not the best pizza is made in your home and the best pizza recipe is the one that you come up with. I had not had a pizza in a long time and where I live in the great Southwest believe you me a good pizza is hard to find. I also had not made homemade pizza in a long time and I really enjoy doing it because the combinations of ingredients are endless and you can never get bored because of that. The herbs and spices and the shapes and textures of the foods used for toppings makes sure that I never make the same pizza twice unless I want to!
I got off work the other night and I felt like having some pizza so I stopped in a local store and picked up a specialty pizza dough and some other goodies and went home. It was a long day and I was beat and just wanted a pizza and some beer to sit down and eat and relax. What more is there to ask for? The night before I made the recipe video you will see in this post I made a homemade pizza sauce recipe and let it sit overnight to let the flavors marry. I think this is the best way to make sauces. I decided to use two different cheeses in this recipe, mozzarella and Gorgonzola. The mozzarella used because that is what gets used on pizza and the Gorgonzola for the nice pungent aroma and creamy texture to offset the mozzarella cheese. For the toppings I chose fresh basil leaves and fresh baby spinach leaves. I also chose scrambled eggs and artichoke hearts along with red onion and Crimini mushrooms. I did however use a store bought pizza dough from a local specialty store because of it’s great price and time saving ability and the fact that it had not artificial ingredients in it. I truly could not do much better myself for well under two bucks! So here they are the essential ingredients: Fresh basil, fresh baby spinach, scrambled eggs, red onion, Crimini mushrooms and mozzarella and Gorgonzola cheese and artichoke hearts. Silly me! I forgot to get the artichoke hearts in the pic but you will see them on the video. So there they are all the fixings you need to really make a great homemade gourmet pizza the EZ way. Check out the video below and go ahead and make this pizza recipe and I am sure you will love it!
The pizza sauce I made is really simple and much better than buying pizza sauce in the can or in the envelope.
Pizza Sauce Ingredients:
1 14.5 15oz can of crushed plum tomatoes or San Marzano tomatoes. I used a 15oz can of whole plums and sliced them up into 1/4 inch slices.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. dry basil
1 Tbsp. whole dry Greek oregano bulbs. Any whole
dry bulb will do: Italian, Greek, Spanish, Mexican.
They all have a unique taste and is an instant flavor boost to almost anything!
2 to 2 1/2 Tsp. sugar. The sugar cuts the acid in
the tomato sauce and adds that little touch of sweetness against the background of that oregano. You can add more sugar to taste.
1 Tsp. Garlic granules or 1 or 2 finely minced garlic bulbs to taste. Remember some folks love garlic but too much can overtake the rest of the flavors in the sauce. Garlic is a note or accent in food and not it’s own food group!
1 Tsp. Salt.
Red pepper flakes are optional if you want some heat in your sauce.
A dash of balsamic vinegar is optional if you like to use balsamic in your sauces for sweetness and a bit of tartness.
Cut up the whole plums tomatoes if using them or put the whole can of crushed tomatoes in a sauce pan. Bring the tomatoes and all the juice from the can to a boil and reduce to a medium boil. Then begin adding the rest of the ingredients in the list in no particular order. Bring the mixture to a boil again and then reduce to a medium or low simmer to allow the sauce to reduce. I like my sauce nice and thick so it really sticks to the pizza dough so I go for about a 20% reduction in the sauce. As a side note as I state in the video I made the sauce a day in advance because I really like the flavors to marry with each other and in the east coast where I come from that is the way we do it. To us the sauce always tastes better the next day. So that’s it for the sauce.
Ingredients for the pizza:
1 package approx. 1lb pizza dough. I used a garlic and herb dough with not additives.
1/2 small/medium red onion cut into rings.
1/2 cup Crimini or baby Portobello mushrooms sliced thin.
1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves.
3/4 to 1 cup fresh baby spinach.
2 cups mozzarella cheese.
4 to 6 ounces of Gorgonzola cheese depending on your tastes.
2 small to medium eggs scrambled soft to medium soft.
4 to 6 ounces of sliced artichoke hearts either marinated, frozen or fresh.
The measurements of the ingredients used here will vary depending on whether you make a 12, 14, or 16 inch pizza or more.I made a 16 inch pizza and still had a tiny bit of spinach and basil when I was done making this pizza and I just made a salad out of it with olive oil, vinegar and garlic. OK!, first order of business. Get out your pizza dough and follow the instructions on that package. In most cases it will be to take the dough out and place it on a lightly floured surface for about twenty minutes to allow it to breathe and expand a bit before using it. I used the pre-made dough as a time saver.Now get your dough and roll it out or if using a pan like I used form the dough into a circle and get it stretched out to the edge of the pan like in the video. Like I said, I used a 16 inch pizza pan. Now after that is done it is time to take your pizza sauce and get it spread out over the surface of the dough. Remember to leave about a half an inch of the dough untouched by the sauce as that is going to be your crust.
Now, take about 1 of the 2 cups of mozzarella cheese and make a layer of cheese on top of the pizza sauce. You could use more cheese if you like in this recipe, but I like to taste the veggies so I don’t bury my sauce in too much cheese. Once that has been done it is time to make your layer of baby spinach. I love baby spinach on pizza. Like the old Popeye cartoons used to say: “I am strong to the finish cause I eat meez spinach! Now after you make that layer of spinach, then make a layer of fresh basil leaves on top of that.
Once the greens have been put on the pizza it is time to whip out the Crimini mushrooms and make a layer of that on top of the greens. On top of the mushrooms put your red onion rings and then on top of the onion rings you can spread out your two scrambled eggs. Now when that is done it is time for the artichoke hearts. Spread them out. I love artichokes in any form I can get them. I used fresh artichoke hearts for this recipe, but if you really want a bang for the buck the marinated one’s are killer for this type of pizza as well!Once the artichoke hearts get on the pizza it is time to put the Gorgonzola cheese to go on top of the pizza. Gorgonzola is a really pungent cheese that is creamy in the mouth and has a musky scent to the nose and musky taste to the tongue without a bad aftertaste. It works better that most of the “blue cheeses” in most recipes because of it’s creamy nature and is an excellent offset flavor to the almost mundane flavor and consistency of mozzarella that goes on most pizza’s today. Besides the rest of the ingredients in this pizza it is the Gorgonzola that really makes the rubber hit the road with this pie!
What I didn’t get to show you in the video is that I sprinkled some more mozzarella on top of the pie before putting it in the oven, I just thought you should know that. I have been taking movie making lessons with Martin Scorsese, but there are some things that have just not stuck with me yet as far as film montage. (OK! If you believe that I have been taking lessons with Martin Scorsese then I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I wanna sell you! OK!, put the pizza in a pre-heated oven at 450 degrees F. I know in the video I said 400 degree, but that is more of that stuff I have been learning from Scorsese. (Yeah! Right!) 450 degree oven for 30+ minutes or until the dough rises and the toppings are nice and the cheese is brown and bubbly. When it is done take it from the oven and give a a couple of minute to rest and then serve. Enjoy!
Note: I used a 16 inch pizza pan for this video and a pan is OK!, but a stone is better because with a pan the pizza can sweat and get soggy in the middle and not rise properly. This was not the case with my pie, but it can happen. I will be getting a pizza stone and if you like to make pizza the way I do, then I suggest that you get a pizza stone to! The best pizza stone I have found is the American made Hartstone Pottery Pizza Stone. This stone makes sure that oven stays hot and dry and that the entire pizza dough will rise and not have a soggy spot in the middle. Stay tuned more EZ pizza recipes to come!