Kids and pizza go hand in hand and this simple meal can pack more than just convenience. With a little bit of planning, you can create extremely healthy meals at home and have fun doing it! Here are some tips of the trade:
You can make pizza dough at home with just a few simple ingredients, which makes this also an extremely economical meal. The basic recipe is this:
- 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cup water (warm but not hot)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons EVOO
- whole wheat, white or a combo of the two flour, about 3 or 3 1/2 cups Tip! Use whole wheat flour as an easy way to get whole grains into your family's diet! They'll never know the difference!
- Add yeast, salt, sugar and water to a bowl and stir to combine. Allow the yeast to proof for a few minutes. When you see the mixture bubbling and gurgling a bit, you're good to go. At this point, add the EVOO and start adding the flour until a sticky mass forms. You can do this by using the dough hook setting on a standing mixer or by hand with a wooden spoon. Once the dough separates from the side of the bowl, take it out and place on a floured surface. Knead by hand for 5-10 minutes or until you have a smooth ball and all of the dough is incorporated. With whole wheat dough, the ball will feel a bit tough and not as elastic as a white flour ball, so you may need to knead it with a little more effort, but don't cut corners! Make sure you really get this to a point where it is a smooth and not crumbly or lumpy ball of dough.
- Place ball in a bowl that has been oiled with EVOO, and add a little more EVOO to the top of the ball. Cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place for an hour.
- After an hour, punch the dough down and get all of the air out. Cut the dough into two pieces if you want to make two large pies, or 4 pieces if you want to make 4 individual or kid-sized pies. At this point, freeze the pieces you do not intend to cook immediately, or put them in the fridge, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, if you will use within a week or two.
It should be noted that at this stage in the game, if you are using a pizza stone in your oven (recommended), then you will want to start preheating it by following the directions from the manufacturer. But the important thing is that the stone is screaming hot when you go to cook your pizza. If not, the crust won't get crispy and airy. If grilling, as Mario likes to do, following his directions for how to grill pizza.
Mario also carries a product called the Pizza Pan for making thin crust oven pizzas. Check it out below.
And he has a Pizza Grilling Stone, made especially for grilling pizzas on your stove. Grilled pizzas are completely different product than oven baked, so it's fun to try them all and see which ones you prefer.
The basic sauce
This is really a matter of preference, but if you are trying to keep things simple, you can simply simmer on the stove top over medium heat:
- 2 tablespoons EVOO (2 turns of the pan)
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Saute until the garlic is translucent, but not burned and then add to the pot:
- 15 ounces of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce OR 6 fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 4 basil leaves, torn
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
Simmer until the sauce is thickened slightly and the taste is where you want it to be. If it needs more salt or pepper, you can add it now, and if you like yours hot, add a half teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Remove sauce from heat when ready to use and allow to cool slighly so your youngster won't get burned. This is where Rach's lazy spoon comes in handy because you can use it not only to stir your sauce, but again when you go to paint your dough.
The possibilities here are endless, and you can browse through all of Rachael Ray's pizza recipes for ideas, from Breakfast Pizzas, to the Pizz-O Rachael made with Oprah Winfrey. However, if you put out some shredded mozarella cheese and grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, you can lay the foundation for a basic cheese pizza. Then adding any other toppings, such as sliced pepperoni or sliced olives, is really up to your preference and what you have in the house. One note-if using mushrooms, sautee them first before adding them to your pizza. This is the fun part for the family as everyone can make their own personalized pizza based on the toppings. If you have someone in the home that doesn't like tomato sauce, you can also make a White Pizza, which has no tomatoes.
See all of Rachael's pizza recipes here