Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pizza Night

Can we talk about kiddo eating habits? As a parent, I find myself having to find creative ways to get vegetables in my little man. Enter pizza decorating. Green peppers all of a sudden double as hair, sausage becomes eyes and a smiley face. Pizza with vegetables, to the little ones, becomes a lot more appealing when they can decorate it themselves. The added bonus is that you actually know all of the ingredients that are going into their little bodies and there is not partially hydrogenated weird stuff going in. Have you ever read the back of a frozen pizza package? Scary.

As for the adults, grilled pizza with sausage, onions, homemade sauce and dough is blissful. Once you have made your own pizza with fresh ingredients, you will forever cringe in the freezer section holding stack upon stack of frozen pizzas at the the grocery store. I know I am beating this point up a bit but I do believe that the best food is homemade. That is what this pizza is in addition to being one of many ways to introduce a kid to healthy food and fun cooking.


Pizza Dough


1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110 degrees F) water (If you are working with a cold stand mixer, you will want to have the water hotter to compensate for the cold bowl)
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons kosher salt

For prep:
1/2 cup good olive oil

For the dough, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 3 cups flour, then the salt, and mix. While mixing, add 1 more cup of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on low to medium speed for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it several times to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and roll each one into a smooth ball. Place the balls on a baking sheet and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature. Roll and stretch each ball into a rough 8-inch circle and place them all on baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. (You will be able to fit 2 pizzas on each 18 by 13-inch baking sheet.)

Pizza/Pasta Sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 ounces tomato paste
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced


Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add in olive oil. Swirl around to cover the bottom of the pan. When oil has heated and moves easily when swirled (about 2 minutes), add in onions. Saute onions for about 8 minutes until translucent. Add in garlic add cook for 1 minute.

Add in crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper and oregano and bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. When bubbling, add in tomato paste and stir in until incorporated. Switch to low heat, cover the pan and let simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Check for seasonings and adjust accordingly. The sauce should be very thick and not runny at all. Leave it on for more time if necessary. Stir in parsley and taste again for seasonings. Let cool slightly before using on the pizza dough or serve right away over pasta.


sweet italian sausage, casings removed, broken up and browned
yellow onions, sliced thin
fontina and mozzarella cheese

Pizza Grill Method:

Heat your grill to approximately 500 degrees.

While the grill is heating, roll the pizza dough out, brush lightly with olive oil, spread a layer of sauce on, sprinkle on generous amounts of cheese and add toppings according to your taste. Be sure to keep the pizza on a cornmeal dusted plate/pan in order for it to slide easily on to the grill. Also be sure to leave a generous edge so you are able to grab the pizza when completed.

Lightly brush the grill with oil, put the pizza on and close the lid. Grill the pizza for approximately 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is starting to turn a golden color.

Remove the pizza from the grill with a spatula and cut into several slices. Serve immediately.

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