Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: Pizza

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Cauliflower Pizza Crust

It All Starts with Crust  

Whole-wheat flour. Forgo the traditional white-flour crust and make your own whole-wheat dough for some extra protein and fiber.

Tortillas. Rice and beans aren’t the only ingredients that can top a tortilla. Make your own whole-wheat tortilla for a perfect thin-crust alternative.

Pita bread. Pita pockets are the perfect size for a personal pizza and the whole-wheat variety adds an extra nutrition.

English muffins. With all the nooks and crannies, an English muffin pizza crust can toast up perfectly in the oven and are great for making mini-pizzas for a light lunch.

Matzo. Think of this as the ultimate thin-crust pizza. Super simple and super crispy.

Cauliflower. For a lighter option, forgo the extra carbs and turn cauliflower into a healthful, delicious pizza crust.

Zucchini. Similar to cauliflower, zucchini is easy to make into a lean, green, pizza crust.

Portobello. These mushrooms are a perfect bed for any pizza sauce and toppings.

Quinoa. This grain isn’t only great on top of salads or in soups. Cook up your own quinoa crust for a nutty, protein-packed alternative to classic pizza dough.

Leftover rice. Another use for that leftover rice from dinner last night. Add just a little flax-seed meal and Italian seasoning, and you’ve got an easy, inventive crust.

And Then There’s Some Crazy Toppings!

  • Start with a whole-wheat crust, spread on a thin layer of goat cheese. Layer on some roasted beets and drizzle with oil. Bake until crispy and top with a handful of fresh arugula before serving. Drizzle with some high-quality balsamic vinegar.
  • Toast a large tortilla until slightly crisp. Remove from oven and top with pumpkin puree, chicken sausage and kale.
  • Start with a zucchini crust. Add pesto. Top with :broccoli or spinach or asparagus and sliced artichokes. Dollop with some pieces of fresh mozzarella and bake until crisp.
  • On a whole-wheat crust, spread a thin layer of ricotta cheese. Bake until the cheese starts to brown. Top with sliced figs, grapes, strawberries and blueberries or any combination. Add a drizzle of honey.
  • On a whole-wheat pita, spread a few tablespoons of fresh tomato sauce. Top with sautéed onions and peppers and sliced cooked  sausage. Top with some mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of fresh herbs. Bake a few minutes to melt the cheese.

pizzacrust

Polenta Pizza Crust

Who says pizza has to be made from bread dough? Best of all, it’s gluten free!

Makes: one 11” x 14” rectangular crust

Ingredients

  • 3½ cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups Polenta
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped, fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the 3½ cups of water to a boil. Add the salt.

Slowly add the polenta to the boiling water and stir. Reduce the heat and continue stirring for about 5 minutes, until thickened.

Pour in 2 tablespoons of oil and stir to incorporate. Add the chopped parsley, oregano and freshly ground black pepper (to taste). Stir to combine.

Remove the pan from the heat and prepare an 11×14 inch baking sheet by lining with parchment paper. Using a spatula (a silicone spatula works the best), spread the polenta evenly onto the prepared baking sheet.

Cover the pan and refrigerate for about an hour to set the polenta. You can also chill it overnight.

Once chilled, heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until slightly crispy on top. Remove from the oven and apply  pizza toppings of choice. Return to the oven just until the toppings are heated. Cut into serving pieces.

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Whole Wheat Sandwich Pizza Dough

This pizza dough has a thick crust – more like focaccia. Top with prosciutto, figs and pesto for an unusual sandwich.

Makes: one 9×13” thick crust pizza

Ingredients

For the starter:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast

For the dough:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups of bread flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • Extra water
  • Kosher salt

Directions

For the starter:

In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the 1 cup of warm water (about 115 degrees F). Let the mixture stand 5 minutes—it should start to foam and bubble a bit. Add flour and mix well. Cover and let it stand for about 1 hour.

Make the dough:

Add the remaining 1 cup water, oil and salt to the yeast mixture and mix together. You can use a standing mixer or food processor as well.

Add the bread and whole wheat flours and using the paddle attachment mix until smooth. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 5-6 minutes. It shouldn’t be too sticky, but still slightly tacky. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Cover it and let it rise for 1½ hours.

Punch down the dough and turn it onto a lightly oiled 9×13 pan. Press the dough out to fit the pan and let it rise for 30 more minutes. After the 30 minutes, press the surface of the dough with your fingertips to make small depressions on the top. Apply toppings of choice or use the bread for sandwiches.

Bake the bread in an oven heated to 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and bake for 20 minutes longer. If the top of the bread browns too quickly, cover it with some aluminum foil.

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Sweet Potato Pizza Crust

Makes four 8” personal pizzas

Ingredients

  • 2 cups mashed sweet potato (about two medium sweet potatoes)
  • 5 cups whole wheat flour (or use gluten-free flour as an alternative)
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup milk or nondairy milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Prepare the sweet potatoes:

Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Peel, dice, the sweet potatoes and then place them in the boiling water until soft.

Drain and mash the sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Allow to cool. Add the milk, olive oil and salt and mix well.

In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and combine.

Dust hands with flour and gently knead the dough until it is well mixed. You may want to turn the dough out onto a floured work surface for more space. You can add a little more flour to reduce the stickiness of the dough, but not too much, as it should still be slightly sticky.

Separate into 4 equal parts and form into rounds. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and press one of the dough balls in the center. Press out from the middle of the ball, forming a flat, round disc (about 8  inches diameter). Repeat with remaining balls of dough.

Bake for 10 minutes. Add  toppings of choice and return to the oven to bake for 10 more minutes.

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Quinoa Pizza Crust

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa plus enough water to cover for soaking
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3-1/2 cup  water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Directions

Place the quinoa in a bowl and pour in enough water to cover the quinoa. Let it sit for about 8 hours to soak .

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Use a large 12-inch cast iron skillet or baking pan and brush with oil. Place in the oven to preheat.

Drain the quinoa, rinse and drain thoroughly. Place the quinoa in a blender. Add the 1/3 cup water and the seasonings and blend. Add more water as needed, until the batter resembles a thick pancake-style batter.

Once the oven reaches the set temperature, pour the batter into the skillet and quickly spread it out evenly across the bottom.

Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the underside is well-browned and starting to crisp. Use a large spatula and carefully flip the crust over. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and top with desired toppings. (Such as, tomato-based pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, sautéed mushrooms, onions, pork sausage or greens.)

As with any pizza, be careful not to overload on toppings or the crust will get soggy.

Return the pan to the oven for 5-7 minutes or until the crust is well-browned on the bottom and crisp. Remove from the skillet and transfer to a cutting board or plate. Slice into serving pieces.

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Zucchini Crust Pizza

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shredded (1 large) zucchini
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil or oregano
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup. grated fresh parmesan
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Dry zucchini well with clean paper towels. Shred the zucchini using a hand shredder, then take all the shredded pieces and squeeze out all the excess water in between two paper towels.

Combine the zucchini, flour, eggs, oil, herbs and the cheeses until well-blended.

Once the dough is fully formed, spread evenly to about 10 inches on a pizza pan covered with parchment paper, then bake in an oven pre-heated to 400 degrees F for 15 minutes or until crispy.

Carefully turn the crust over with a wide spatula so the other side cooks as well. This will prevent sogginess. Bake for another 10-15 minutes

Once cooked, remove from the oven and add whatever toppings you choose (see below for ideas).

Turn the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Once topped, put the pan back in the oven for about 8 minutes until heated.

Some Topping Ideas Or Use Your Imagination:

  • 1 large ripe tomato, sliced
  • 2-3  sautéed garlic cloves
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Thinly sliced bell peppers
  • Thinly sliced potatoes sautéed with garlic
  • Sliced olives
  • Sliced onion
  • Pesto
  • Fresh Mozzarella or Italian Fontina cheese

Dear Readers: What is the most unusual pizza you have created or eaten?

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pizza header

First offered at a few big-city Italian restaurants in New York City at the turn of the 20th century, pizza started to come into its own at Chicago’s Pizzeria Uno – the first restaurant built around this “foreign dish” – in 1943. Nationally franchised takeout pizza was born at Pizza Hut in 1958, Little Caesars in 1959 and Domino’s in 1960 and from then on, pizza was an established part of the American culinary landscape.

But what about homemade pizza? When did Americans start making their own pizza at home, from scratch, rather than driving down to the pizza parlor for takeout?

According to The Food Timeline, the first known American cookbook pizza recipe appeared in 1936, in Specialita Culinarie Italiane, 137 Tested Recipes of Famous Italian Foods. But it wasn’t until nearly 10 years later that pizza made it out of the Italian neighborhoods and into the American mainstream. In 1945. American GI’s were coming home from Europe and some of them returned with a new-found love for Italian food – such as pizza – at that time a treat available only at Italian restaurants. By 1954, the first yeast-crust pizzas were making an appearance, as evidenced in The Betty Furness Westinghouse Cookbook. See the recipe page below – hardly the “real thing”. Source: (http://www.foodtimeline.org/)

first cookbook

Have a pizza party. Make the dough, sauces and toppings ahead of time and let your guests have fun making their own pizzas.

Pizza Doughs

All-Purpose Pizza Dough

Ingredients

  • 5 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon fast-rising or instant dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon water, at room temperature
  • Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray

Directions

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook or in a large bowl using a large spoon, combine all ingredients except the cooking spray. Mix on low or by hand about 3 minutes, until ingredients are combined and all the flour is moistened. Dough will be soft.

If using an electric mixer, increase speed to medium; mix 2 minutes longer. If working by hand, continue mixing with the spoon; or turn dough out onto a counter and knead. Mix long enough to form a smooth, supple dough, about 3 minutes. If dough seems very stiff, incorporate more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, as you mix. If dough is wet and sticky, sprinkle in more flour as you mix. Dough should be tacky but not sticky.

Lightly coat an 8-quart bowl with cooking spray or oil. Form dough in a smooth ball and place in the bowl, turning once to coat the surface with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, without letting wrap touch surface of dough. Let dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then refrigerate the dough overnight or up to 3 days. (Dough will continue to rise in the bowl until nearly doubled, then will go dormant from the cold.)

Two hours before assembling the pizzas, remove chilled dough from the refrigerator. Mist a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or lightly rub with olive oil. Cut dough into four portions. Form each portion in a smooth round ball.

Place each ball of dough on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly mist with cooking spray, then lightly cover with plastic wrap. Let dough come to room temperature.

Multigrain Pizza Dough

Ingredients

  • 4 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup rye flour (or cornmeal or additional whole wheat flour)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons honey
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons instant yeast or fast-rising yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups water, at room temperature

Directions

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook or in a large bowl using a large spoon, combine all ingredients. Mix on low or by hand about 3 minutes, until ingredients are combined and all the flour is moistened. Dough will be soft.

If using an electric mixer, increase speed to medium; mix 2 minutes longer. If working by hand, continue mixing with spoon; or turn dough out onto a counter and knead. Mix long enough to form a smooth, supple dough, about 3 minutes. If dough seems very stiff, incorporate more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, as you mix. If dough is wet and sticky, sprinkle in more flour as you mix. Dough should be tacky but not sticky.

Lightly coat an 8-quart bowl with cooking spray or oil. Form dough in a smooth ball and place in bowl, turning once to coat surface with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, without letting wrap touch the surface of dough. Let dough stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then refrigerate dough overnight or up to 3 days. (Dough will continue to rise in bowl until nearly doubled, then will go dormant from the cold.)

Two hours before assembling the pizzas, remove chilled dough from the refrigerator. Mist a baking sheet with cooking spray or lightly rub with olive oil. Cut dough into four portions. Form each portion in a smooth round ball.

Place each ball of dough on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly mist with cooking spray, then lightly cover with plastic wrap. Let dough come to room temperature.

Tips:

  • At this point, extra dough may be placed in freezer bags that have been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray. Seal, label and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
  • As a substitute for a baking stone, use an inverted baking sheet placed on an oven rack. For easy pizza assembly, invert another baking sheet on the counter and cover the underside with parchment paper (for baking). Mist the paper with cooking spray, then prepare the pizza on the paper.
  • Closely watch pizzas that are placed on parchment paper while baking. The high heat from the oven can cause some papers to ignite. Carefully read labels and instructions to avoid using papers in a hot oven that could cause fires.

 Pizza Sauces

All-Purpose No Cook Pizza Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 – 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 ½ teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

In a medium bowl whisk together all the ingredients. If necessary, add more water to thin. It should easily spread over the dough. For an 8 to 10 inch pizza, use 1/4 cup of the sauce.

Pesto alla Genovese Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup finely shredded Parmesan, Romano or Asiago cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

In a medium skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the oil; add garlic. Cook and stir for 10 seconds; remove pan from heat. Immediately add to remaining oil.

In a food processor combine the garlic oil, basil, cheese, lemon juice and half the nuts; cover and process 20 seconds or until mixture resembles a thick green sauce. (If the contents are very thick and pasty, drizzle in a little water and process for a few more seconds. If too thin, add more shredded cheese)

Transfer the pesto to a medium bowl and stir in the pepper and the remaining nuts.

For pizza: top dough with mozzarella cheese slices, drizzle some pesto sauce over the cheese, top with sliced plum tomatoes and bake.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pesto sauce and refrigerate (the plastic wrap will help keep the pesto a bright green). Chill for up to 5 days; for longer storage, transfer to freezer containers. Seal, label and freeze up to 3 months.

Multipurpose Herb Oil

Ingredients

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic (or 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried or fresh rosemary, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika, mild or hot
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

In a medium bowl whisk all ingredients together for about 15 seconds, long enough to evenly distribute the ingredients. Because most spices and herbs settle quickly, always whisk the oil mixture before drizzling or pouring. Let the herb oil stand at least 30 minutes at room temperature for flavors to meld.

Store, tightly covered, in a cool dark place up to 2 weeks.

Sauce Variations

  • Spicy Puttanesca Sauce: Add 1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata or ripe olives, 1 tablespoon capers and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper to the all-Purpose Pizza Sauce.
  • Tomato Basil-Pesto Sauce: combine All-Purpose Pizza Sauce and Pesto alla Genovese
  • Garlic Sauce: Add 2 to 3 tablespoon of garlic oil (see Caramelized garlic recipe) and 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper to any pizza sauce.
  • Broccoli Rabe and Italian Sausage: thinly slice 3 Roma tomatoes and drain on a paper towel; saute 1/2 bunch of chopped broccoli rabe with olive oil and garlic;  saute 1/4 lb diced Italian sausage and thinly slice 1/2 lb mozzarella cheese. Layer cheese, tomatoes, broccoli and sausage on a 14 inch round of All-Purpose pizza dough and bake until crust is brown.

Toppings

Cheese

To any one of the above pizzas add: 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella, provolone, Fontina cheese, Parmesan or 1/4 cup feta, chevre or blue cheese.

Meat

Add 1/4 cup sliced cooked chicken, salami, pepperoni, crisp-cooked bacon or pancetta, ham or any type of cooked sausage to each of the above pizzas.

Seafood

Marinate seafood in 1/2 cup of Multipurpose Herb Oil (see recipe). Place 1/4 cup cooked shelled clams, scallops, shelled mussels, shrimp, tuna, calamari or octopus strips to each of the above pizza.

 Some Of My Favorite Pizzas

artichoke

Marinated Artichoke Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe All-Purpose Pizza Dough or Multigrain Pizza Dough 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ounce marinated artichoke hearts, drained and sliced thin
  • 1 ounce fire-roasted red peppers, drained and sliced thin
  • 6 small Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick and marinated in 1/2 cup Multi Purpose Herb Oil (see recipe); drain before using.
  • 1 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Remove dough from the refrigerator 2 hours before assembling pizzas. About 45 minutes before baking, place an oven rack one-third the distance from the bottom of oven. Place a pizza stone or invert a heavy baking sheet on the rack. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Cook onions in hot oil about 10 minutes, until translucent. Stir in sugar and balsamic vinegar; cook until juices bubble. Transfer onions to a strainer set over a bowl. Drain for 3 minutes. Return drained juices to the skillet. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes until the consistency of honey. Remove from heat. Return onions to the skillet. Stir to coat, then set aside.

For pizzas, stretch each dough portion into an 8-10 inch circle. One at a time, transfer to a pizza peel (pizza-size spatula) or rimless cookie sheet dusted with flour. Evenly divide onion mixture, artichokes, peppers, tomatoes and olives and spread on each circle. Sprinkle top with cheese.

Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until toppings bubble and pizza edges are golden brown. Rotate pizzas halfway through baking time. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

mushroom

Mushroom-Garlic Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe All-Purpose Pizza Dough or Multigrain Pizza Dough
  • 1 recipe Caramelized Garlic, recipe below
  • 1 ½ cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 ½ cups sliced cremini or button mushrooms
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded provolone cheese
  • 4 teaspoons Multipurpose Herb Oil, see recipe 
  • 1/4 cup of fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, chopped

Directions

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before assembling pizzas. About 45 minutes before baking, place an oven rack one-third the distance from bottom of oven. Place a pizza stone or invert a heavy baking sheet on the rack. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons oil from the Caramelized Garlic recipe. Cook and stir mushrooms in hot oil for 4 to 5 minutes, just until they begin to glisten. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.

For pizzas, stretch each dough portion into an 8-10 inch circle. One at a time, transfer to a pizza peel (pizza-size spatula) or rimless cookie sheet dusted with flour. Top each pizza with 1/2 cup of the grated cheese, one-fourth of the sautéed mushrooms (about 1/2 cup) and 6 to 8 cloves of garlic (from Caramelized Garlic).

Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until toppings bubble and pizza edges are golden brown. Rotate pizzas halfway through baking time. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing. Just before serving, drizzle each pizza with 1 teaspoon Multipurpose Herb Oil and sprinkle with parsley.

Caramelized Garlic

Place 1 cup of peeled garlic cloves (3 to 4 bulbs) in a small saucepan with enough olive oil to cover the garlic (about 1 cup). Simmer over medium heat about 20 minutes, until garlic is a rich dark golden brown on the outside. They should develop what resembles a crust. Stir occasionally to prevent garlic from sticking to the pan and burning. Remove from heat. Let garlic stand in the oil for 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer garlic cloves to a plate lined with paper towels. Transfer remaining oil to a jar with a tightly fitting lid. Separately refrigerate garlic cloves and oil, tightly covered, up to 2 weeks.

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It’s amazing what you can put on a pizza. You can serve many of your favorite garden vegetables on a pizza, everything from tomatoes, potatoes, corn and beans. Some may seem a little strange but, if you like the vegetable, chances are—you’ll like it on a pizza. When peppers, squash and cherry tomatoes are at their peak, there’s nothing like enjoying them on a pizza.

It doesn’t always have to be a red sauce, either. White pizzas can be made with a white cheese sauce or simply a coating of olive oil. You want to add just enough, so that your pizza is not dry, but not too much, if you want a crispy crust.

Except for tomatoes, partially cook your vegetables before putting them on a pizza. A thin light crust, one that is intended to be crispy, will not stay crispy, if the vegetables are expected to cook on the pizza.Top your vegetables with just enough cheese to hold things together.

The crust . . .

You can’t make a thin crust with bread flour. It’s too stiff and springs back too much. You need a soft, pliable dough with not too much gluten. You can do it with all-purpose flour. Better yet, add a 1/2 cup of rye flour to your pizza dough recipe made from all-purpose flour. Whole wheat flour is another good low gluten option.

Pre-baking the crust for 5 -6 minutes will also help the dough stay crusty.

Don’t want to heat up the kitchen, try grilled pizzas. Here are some tips:

Grilled pizzas are versatile and easy to accommodate everyone’s likes and needs. The cheese melts evenly and quickly and the crust gets crispy. What’s more, you get that smoky taste from the grill.

Because the pie gets topped right on the grill after the crust has been turned over, the ingredients must be prepped in advance. Take the ingredients out to the grill in small bowls on a cutting board or tray. Preparing different toppings in advance means you can make a variety of pies. Or make personal pies: one to suit each person.

Before you get to the grill, shape the dough into the right size. Simply put the dough on a lightly floured surface and dust the top with a little more flour. Dimple it with your fingertips to shape it into a thick, flattened disk. After that, it’s just a quick job with a rolling pin or your fingers to shape it into a rustic circle or oblong.

Sprinkle cornmeal on the pizza peel or baking sheet before transferring the dough to it. Give the dough a shake to make sure it will come free when it’s time to slide it onto the grill. Once at the grill, slide the dough onto the grill grates.

Close the lid and let the crust get brown on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Use a metal spatula to gently lift the dough and check for brown grill marks on the underside. Use a pizza peel or large metal spatula to turn the dough over.

Working quickly, top the dough with the prepared ingredients, leaving a 1-inch border. Close the lid and cook until the toppings are heated through, the cheese is melted and the crust is brown. Remove the pizza from the grill and cut it into serving pieces.

 

Sausage & Pepper Grilled Pizza

Serves: 4

Prepare the Dough:

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough for the Grill

  • 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup of warm water
  • 1.5 teaspoons of rapid rise yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning

Combine all the ingredients together in a food processor or electric mixer until dough forms a ball.

Place dough in a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap and let sit for 20 minutes.

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Oil the grates.

Prepare the Toppings:                                                                                 

Cook 6 oz hot Italian turkey sausage (casings removed) in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, breaking up clumps with a slotted spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Roast 1 pint mini sweet peppers on grill until charred and softened, about 4 minutes. Remove to a cutting board. Halve peppers lengthwise and remove seeds.

Divide the dough in half and stretch each into a large circle and lightly coat 1 side of each with olive oil spray. Put crusts oil side down on the grill and heat until the bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes.

Turn crusts over and spread 1 cup marinara sauce evenly over the top of each pizza.

Sprinkle pizzas evenly with 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella, cooked sausage and roasted peppers.

Grill until bottoms are golden brown and the cheese is melted, about 2-3 minutes longer. Remove to a cutting board.

Sprinkle with fresh arugula, if desired and cut each pizza into 4 slices.

Farmers’ Market Pizza

Note: Zucchini Preparation: salt and microwave for a minute or two before putting on the pizza– less sogginess– and they are cooked when the pizza is done. Use the same preparation with eggplant.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour and
  • 1 1/4 cups semolina flour.
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water

Topping

  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup thinly sliced zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1 small red onion (3 ounces), thinly sliced

Directions:

To make the crust:

Mix and knead together in an electric mixer all of the ingredients until a soft, smooth dough forms.

Let the dough rise, covered, for 45 to 60 minutes, then refrigerate it for 4 hours or overnight.

To prepare the pizza:

With lightly greased hands, stretch the dough into a lightly greased rectangular pan about 13″ x 9″ or into a greased round pizza pan. Cover and let the dough rest for 45 to 60 minutes.

Place a baking stone in the middle of your oven. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Spread the tomato sauce onto the dough and place the pizza pan directly on the stone.

Bake for 6 minutes and remove from the oven.

Distribute the cheese over the sauce, then place the zucchini on 1/4 of the dough, the corn on another 1/4, the tomatoes on 1/4 and the onions on the last quarter. 

Return the pizza to the baking stone and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned.

Yield: 1 large pizza.

Pistachio and Mortadella Pizza

Makes Four 10″ Pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 1½ cups shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 tablespoon grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 lb. pizza dough, divided into 4 equal pieces
  • Fine semolina, for dusting
  • 4 oz. thinly sliced mortadella, cut into quarters
  • 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1 oz. grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 16 fresh basil leaves

Directions:

Place a pizza stone under the broiler; heat for 30 minutes.

Puree pistachios, Parmesan, oil, lemon juice, salt and 1/4 cup water in a food processor until smooth.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, dust 1 ball dough with semolina.

Using your fingertips, press dough into a 10″circle about 1/4″thick, leaving a 1″ crust around the edges. Hold dough straight up, and with fingertips circling crust, slide fingers around crust in a circular motion as you would turn a steering wheel until dough in the center is stretched to about 1/8″thick; transfer to a semolina dusted pizza peel.

Spread 1/2 cup pistachio pesto over dough and distribute one quarter each of the mortadella, cheeses and basil over the top; drizzle with oil. Slide pizza onto stone; broil until cheese melts and crust is puffed and charred in spots, 3-4 minutes. 

Repeat with the remainig three pieces of dough and toppings.

 Uno's Deep-Dish Pizza

Cheese and Tomato Deep Dish Pizza

8 servings

Pizza dough, tomato sauce and mozzarella are layered in a springform pan for deep-dish pizza.

Although traditional Chicago pizza has all the cheese on the bottom, here it is divided between the top and the bottom.

Use your favorite pizza crust recipe or purchase dough from a local pizzeria. 

Ingredients:

Chunky Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes (the chunkier the better)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning or 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped Italian herbs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Freshly ground pepper to taste

Pizza:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 16 ounces pizza dough (at room temperature)
  • 4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided
  • 3/4 cup chunky tomato sauce, homemade or store bought
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

Directions:

To prepare the sauce:

Combine all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes. Let cool. You will not need all this sauce for the pizza.

To prepare the pizza:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Pour oil into a 10-inch round, deep-dish pan or springform pan. Place dough in the center of pan and work dough from the center outward, pressing to cover the bottom of the pan and halfway up the sides of the pan. Prick with a fork. Bake crust in the oven about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes.

Spread 2 cups mozzarella cheese on crust, top with 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese, Romano cheese and oregano on top. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pizza every 15 minutes. The crust should be golden brown and the cheese should be bubbling when cooked. Remove pizza from the oven and let cool 3 minutes. Remove pizza from pan using a large spatula, cut and serve.

 


Pizza lovers have strong convictions. They either love thick pizza and hate thin pizza or they love thin pizza and hate thick pizza! What is your conviction? Well, when you first consider the differences between thick and thin pizza crust, it might seem pretty obvious – one is thick, while the other is not! However, they each have their own intended purpose and your preference may depend on what you want to eat on your pizza.

Pizza that has a thick crust is considered to be the most traditional form of pizza. The pizza dough for this style isn’t really much of a dough at all but, rather, a bread that forms the bottom and side layers of what could very well be labeled a casserole rather than pizza. The advantage to this type of pizza is that you can add as many ingredients as you’d like and fit it all comfortably on the pizza. Because of the thickness of these pizzas, they do take longer to cook in the oven.

Thin crust pizza is a thinner piece of  dough that is stretched to cover the pizza pan bottom. This type of crust cooks very quickly; but because of the delicateness of the dough, toppings are usually limited to one or two.

Make pizza the way you like it. The recipes below give you a variety of options: thick or thin; knead or don’t knead, pan or no pan.  

Thin Crust Pizza

To make the dough

  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (100°F to 115°F)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 1/2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

To make the dough:

Stir together the yeast, water, honey, and 1 cup of the flour in a large mixing bowl, in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cover the mixture and let it stand for 30 minutes; it’ll be very soupy.

Add 2 cups of the remaining flour, the vital wheat gluten and the salt to the yeast mixture, along with the olive oil. Mix and knead the dough-by mixer for about 5 minutes, adding more flour as necessary to make a smooth elastic dough. Place it in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for at least 2 hours, or until it’s doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.  If you’re using a baking stone, preheat the oven to 500°F. with the baking stone in the oven.

Assembling the pizza:

Divide the dough in half, roll each piece on a floured surface into a 13″ to 15″ round (depending on the size of your pizza pans) and place the rounds on lightly oiled pans. (A 13″ diameter yields a thin crust; a 15″ diameter yields a cracker-thin crust.) Turn in the overhanging edge to form a rim.

15 ” cracker like crust

If you plan to use a baking stone to bake the pizza, place the dough on a baker’s peel, dusted with cornmeal. You will then slide the prepared pizza onto the baking stone.

Add the topping as directed below.

Bake the pizzas in the pans for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the top and bottom crusts are nicely browned. If you’re using a baking stone, bake for about 7 – 10 minutes.

Thin Crust Spinach Feta Cheese Topping

Topping for one pizza

  • one 10-ounce package frozen spinach
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • big pinch of salt
  • 2 peeled, minced garlic cloves
  • 4 ounces feta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

 Directions:

Thaw the frozen spinach and squeeze it in your hands (or a paper towel, or a dish towel) until it’s very dry.

Heat the olive oil and saute the spinach, salt, and garlic for a couple of minutes, just until hot and well combined.

Top the crust with the spinach and, then, the feta. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with oregano.

 

No Knead Thick Pizza Crust

To make the dough;

  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Eagle Brand Ultra Grain flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast

Oil a 14″-diameter pizza pan or a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.

Directions:

Stir the crust ingredients together to form a slightly sticky, soft dough.

Let the dough rise, covered, for 30 minutes.

A little trick, I learned to get an evenly thick pizza, is to let it rise, a second time, in the pizza pan before adding any toppings.

Place the dough in the oiled pan and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes, then pat and stretch it to cover the bottom of the pan. Let it rest, covered, for another 30 minutes.

Thick pizza dough rising in the pan.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Add the topping as directed below.

Bake the pizza for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the topping is golden brown.

Thick Crust Sausage and Vegetable Topping

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large bell peppers: red, green, and/or yellow, sliced thin
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 8-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 ounces pepperoni or browned sausage meat, casing removed
  • 3/4 cup pizza sauce
  • 6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese sliced

Directions:

Brown sausage in a large skillet. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Add oil to the skillet and and cook peppers and onions until soft. Add mushrooms and cook until all liquid is absorbed. Add sausage and set aside.

Layer cheese, alternating provolone and mozzarella cheeses on top of the dough. Spread pizza sauce on top of cheeses and layer the vegetable/sausage mixture on top.


Homemade Calzones

Prepare the pizza dough and the tomato sauce in advance of making the calzones. It is important to refrigerate the calzone dough overnight so that it can fully rise.

Nearly any topping that works for a pizza makes a great calzone filling, Including some other bulky ingredients like vegetables or meats. Just be sure to precook those other ingredients, or else they will give off moisture.

Yields four individual calzones

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Pizza Dough, refrigerated for at least 8 hours, recipe below
  • Unbleached bread flour or semolina flour, for dusting
  • 1 cup No-Cook Tomato Sauce, recipe below
  • 2 cups low-moisture mozzarella or other soft melting cheese
  • 1 cup filling (see choices below)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • Kosher salt (optional)

Directions:

Take the dough out of the refrigerator, set it on a lightly oiled work surface, and divide into 4 equal pieces of about 7 oz. each. Roll each piece into a tight ball.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and lightly oil it with olive oil or cooking spray. Set each ball at least an inch apart on the parchment. Lightly spray or brush the balls with olive oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Let the dough warm up and relax at room temperature for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Shape the dough:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 500°F (a baking stone is optional). Fill a small bowl with bread flour, or semolina if using, and dust a clean work surface with a generous amount.

With floured hands, transfer one of the dough balls to the floured work surface. Sprinkle lightly with flour and press it with your fingertips into a round disk.

With a rolling pin, roll the dough out into an oval or round shape about 3/16 inch thick and 9 inches across. Dust with flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

If the dough resists rolling and springs back, let it rest for a few minutes and move on to the next dough ball. Roll out the remaining three dough balls.

You could also use an 8 inch calzone press. Follow directions on the package.

Fill and bake the calzones:

Brush the edge of a dough round with cool water to make a damp band about 1/2 inch wide all the way around. Spread 1/4 cup of the sauce over the lower half of the dough. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the mozzarella over the sauce, and then top with one-quarter of the filling ingredients and 1 tablespoon of the Parmigiano cheese.

Fold the top half of the dough over the filling. Crimp the dough either with fingers or a fork, sealing the damp edge tightly. Transfer the calzone to a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Repeat with the remaining dough circles and filling ingredients. Brush the tops with olive oil and cut three steam vents in each.

Put the baking sheet in the oven (or on the baking stone, if using) and reduce the oven temperature to 450°F. Bake until the crust turns a rich golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool for 3 minutes before serving.  Serve with extra sauce.

Pizza Dough for Calzones

It’s best to mix the dough at least a day before you plan to bake. The dough keeps for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or for 3 months in the freezer. To freeze the dough: After kneading the dough, divide it into 4 equal pieces for calzones. Freeze each ball in its own zip-top freezer bag. They’ll ferment somewhat in the freezer and this counts as the rise. Before using, thaw completely in their bags overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. Then treat the dough exactly as you would, if they had not been frozen and continue with the directions for making the calzones.  A recipe for whole wheat dough is below.

Makes enough dough for 4 calzones

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (3-1/2 cups) unbleached bread flour; more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons table salt (or 2-1/2 tsp. kosher salt)
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
  • Semolina flour

Directions:

Combine the flour, honey, salt, yeast and olive oil in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add 1-1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cool (60º to 65ºF) water.

With a large spoon or the paddle attachment of the electric mixer on low speed, mix until the dough comes together in a coarse ball, 2 to 3 minutes by hand or 1 to 2 minutes in the mixer. Let the dough rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Knead the dough:

If using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes, either by hand on a lightly floured work surface or with the mixer’s dough hook on medium-low speed. As you knead, add more flour or water, as needed, to produce a ball of dough that is smooth, supple and fairly tacky but not sticky. When poked with a clean finger, the dough should show only a slight indentation. It may stick slightly to the bottom of the mixing bowl but not to the sides.

Chill the dough:

Lightly oil a bowl that’s twice the size of the dough. Roll the dough in the bowl to coat it with the oil, cover the top of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. It will rise slowly in the refrigerator, but will stop growing once completely chilled. If the plastic bulges, release the carbon dioxide buildup by lifting one edge of the plastic wrap (like burping it) and then reseal. Use the dough, as directed in the recipe above.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Replace 25% to 50% of the flour with an equal amount of whole wheat flour. It may be necessary to add more white bread flour as you knead. Your goal is to produce a ball of dough that is smooth, supple and fairly tacky but not sticky. It may stick slightly to the bottom of the mixing bowl but not to the sides of the bowl. When poked with a clean finger, the dough should leave only a slight residue.

No-Cook Pizza Sauce

Yields 3-1/4 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 26-oz. container Pomi strained tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • Kosher salt or table salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried (or 1 tablespoon. finely chopped fresh) oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, or parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:

Whisk the tomatoes, vinegar or lemon juice and remaining ingredients together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. The sauce can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for up to six months.

Filling Choices

Use one or more of the following (1 cup total for each calzone):

  • Crumbled, cooked bacon, pancetta or ham
  • Cooked sausage, sliced
  • Small meatballs, cooked
  • Sauteed eggplant cubes
  • Sliced, sauteed mushrooms
  • Sauteed onions
  • Steamed broccoli or broccoli rabe
  • Sauteed spinach
  • Sauteed bell peppers or roasted red peppers
  • Sliced olives
  • Cooked (or canned, drained) artichoke hearts
  • Chopped fresh basil
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Substitute another soft melting cheese for the mozzarella, such as Monterey Jack, Provolone, Gouda, smoked Mozzarella, or smoked Gouda.
  • Substitute another dry aged grating cheese for the Parmigiano, such as Asiago or Romano.

One of My Favorites: Eggplant Parmesan Calzone

Follow directions above for the dough but divide into 2 pieces.

Yield: two 12″ calzones, 4 – 6 servings.

Eggplant Filling

  • 2 medium (about 2 pounds) eggplant, cut in 1/2″ slices; peeled or not, your choice
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 2/3 to 2 cups panko or other coarse bread crumbs
  • Salt
  • Marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cups shredded or grated mozzarella cheese, or a combination of your favorite pizza cheeses

Directions:  Picture Directions Are Below:

Lightly grease two large baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Slice eggplants about 3/8″ thick. Whisk together the egg and milk. Pour the bread crumbs into a shallow dish and add salt to taste.

Dip each eggplant slice into the egg/milk mixture, and let it drain. Then dip both sides into the bread crumbs. Lay the slices in a single layer in the prepared pans. Drizzle or spray with olive oil.

Bake the eggplant for 40 minutes, or until it’s soft and the crumbs are beginning to brown. Remove it from the oven and let it cool right on the pan.

Working with one half at a time, place the dough onto a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Pat it into an 11″ to 12″ circle.

Brush the dough with sauce, leaving 1/2″ clean all around the edges. Use as much sauce as you like.

Arrange half the eggplant, slightly overlapped, on half of the dough circle. It’ll seem like a lot of eggplant but don’t worry; it’ll settle as the calzone bakes. Drizzle the eggplant with additional sauce, if desired. Top with 1 cup of the cheese.

Fold the uncovered half of dough over the eggplant and cheese, pressing the edges together to seal.

Cut 3 or 4 slits in the top of each calzone to allow steam to escape. Brush with olive oil.

Repeat with the remaining piece of dough and filling ingredients.

Let the calzones rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes, while the oven preheats to 450°F.

Bake the calzones for 18 to 22 minutes until they’re golden brown.

Remove the calzones from the oven and slice into pieces to serve.


Bay of Naples

The recorded history of Naples begins in the 7th. century BC, when the nearby Greek colony of Cumae founded a new city called Parthenope. Precisely why the inhabitants of Cumae decided to expand is not known for certain, but the Cumaeans built Neapolis (the “New City”) adjacent to the old Parthenope. At about the same time, they prevented an invasion attempt by the Etruscans. The new city grew thanks to the influence of the powerful Greek city-state of Syracuse in Sicily and, at some point, the new and old cities on the Gulf of Naples merged to become a single inhabited area.

Naples became an ally of the Roman Republic against Carthage. The strong walls of Naples held off Hannibal’s attack. During the Samnite Wars the city, a bustling center of trade, was captured by the Samnites. However, the Romans soon took it from them and made Neapolis a Roman colony. Neapolis was respected by the Romans as a place of Hellenistic culture, where people maintained their Greek language and customs and where elegant villas, aqueducts, public baths, theaters and the Temple of Dioscures were built. A number of Roman emperors, including Claudius and Tiberius, maintained villas in or near Naples. It was during this period that Christianity came to Naples and the apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, are said to have preached here.

Naples, a Crowded City

Beaches in Napoli

In the sixth century Naples was conquered by the Byzantines and it was one of the last territories to fall to the Normans in 1039. In 1266 Naples and the kingdom of Sicily were given by Pope Clement IV to Charles of Anjou, who moved the capital from Palermo to Naples. In 1284 the kingdom was split in two and stayed that way until 1816, when they would form the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In between, Naples had been under the rule of Spain, Austria, and the Bourbons and , briefly, a Jacobin republic. Finally, in October 1860, it became part of the new Italy.

Stock Photo: Herculaneum excavations 9, Naples, Italy. Image: 948150

Herculaneum excavations, Naples, Italy

The Neapolitan painter Massimo Stanzione poses a woman in festive local costume (ca 1635) with a market chicken: only the rich ate chicken on an ordinary occasion

During World War II, Naples was more heavily bombed than any other Italian city. Although the Neapolitans did not rebel against Italian fascism, Naples was the first Italian city to rise up against German military occupation and achieved liberation by October 1, 1943. The symbol of the rebirth of Naples was the rebuilding of Santa Chiara which had been destroyed during an Allied air raid. Special funding from the Italian government helped the economy to improve somewhat, including the rejuvenation of the Piazza del Plebiscito and other city landmarks.

Naples is rich in historical, artistic and cultural traditions and its own distinct cuisine.Neapolitan cuisine was influenced by Arab, Norman, Spanish and French cultures since all ruled Naples at some point in time. What has resulted is a unique half-sophisticated, half-folk cuisine. Many Neapolitan recipes are elaborate, take time to prepare and use seasonal produce. New World food imports added potatoes, peppers, beans, coffee and especially tomatoes to the cuisine. The pizza originated here and is eaten, like so many other delicious local foods, out on the street.

Selling Pizza on the Street

Flattened flour cakes — early pizzas — were made out of wheat flour, olive oil, lard and herbs and garnished with cheese. As for a much later ingredient, the tomato: after the Spanish colonization of the Americas, Spaniards brought them to Europe. In southern Italy tomatoes were easy to cultivate. The earliest discovered cookbook with tomato recipes was published in Naples in 1692.

Considered a peasant’s meal in Italy for centuries, modern pizza is attributed to Raffaele Esposito of Campania, Naples. In June 1889 Esposito baked a pizza in honor of visiting King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy. The Italian flag inspired Esposito’s recipe and contained green (basil), white (mozzarella), and red (tomatoes). Moistened with splashes extra virgin olive oil, it was named Pizza Margherita to flatter the Queen, and it set the standard for pizzas to come. Consequently, from 1889 on, Naples became the “pizza capital of the world”.

Naples isn’t only about the pizza. With delicious food that ranges from fried treats to decadent desserts, the food of Naples can satisfy any food lover. The fertile volcanic soil of Campania combines with a perfect climate to produce the best fruit and vegetables in Italy. Dishes like eggplant parmesan, stuffed peppers and pasta e fagioli have been around for hundreds of years. Rich sauces like Bolognese, Genovese and Neapolitan Ragu have been used to create some of the best pasta dishes in Italy. Like most of Italy, pastas mixed with vegetables, instead of expensive meats and seafood, helped feed people during hard times.

Zucchini alla Scapece

Seafood Pasta

Eggplant

Regular red and yellow peppers are widely used, and a local variety of small green peppers (not spicy), peperoncini verdi, are usually fried.

Salad is a side dish, especially seafood ones. Lettuce, and more often the incappucciata (a local variety of the iceberg lettuce but more crispy), is mixed with carrots, fennel, rucola and radishes, traditionally the long and spicy ones, which today are more and more rare; almost completely replaced by the round and sweeter ones.

Black olives used in Neapolitan cooking are always the ones from Gaeta.

Meat is not used as frequently in Neapolitan cooking as in the cuisine of Northern Italy. The most common kinds of meat used in Neapolitan cooking are:

  • sausage or pork liver, rounded in a net of pork’s fat and a bay leaf
  • trippa (tripe) and other more humble cuts of pork or beef, like pork’s foot and cow’s nose
  • braciole, pork rolls stuffed with raisins, pine nuts and parsley, fixed with toothpicks and cooked in ragù
  • lamb and goat are roasted, usually with potatoes and peas, typically around Easter
  • rabbit and chicken, often cooked alla cacciatora or pan fried with tomatoes
  • beef or other red meat with tomatoes, cooked for a long time to tenderize an inexpensive piece of meat, as in Carne Pizzaiola

Neapolitan cooking has always used an abundance of all kinds of seafood from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Recipes use either less expensive fishes, in particular anchovies, or fishes of medium and large size, like spigola (European seabass) and orate (gilt-head bream), presently sold mainly from fish farms. 

  • Cicenielli, baby fishes, very small and transparent, prepared either steamed or fried in a dough
  • Fravagli, few centimeter long, typically fried
  • The baccalà (cod) and stockfish, imported from northern Europe seas, are either fried or cooked with potatoes and tomatoes.
  • Octopus, squid, cuttlefish, as well as crustacea (mainly shrimp).
  • Shellfish cozze (mussels), vongole (clams), cannolicchi, sconcigli are used in many seafood meals.

And let’s not forget the desserts. Struffoli, sfogliatelle and pastiera cheesecake all come out of Naples.

Make Some Neapolitan Inspired Recipes At Home

 

Cauliflower, Olive and Caper Salad                                                                                                                                    

A traditional Neapolitan Christmas Eve dinner always begins with a family version of the following salad, which is actually an antipasto.

It can also be made with any of the following: tuna, pitted black olives, mushrooms, artichokes packed in oil, capers, peppers, and cornichons, and a dressing made with lemon juice and olive oil.

Ingredients:

  • coarse salt
  • 2 lbs whole cauliflower, washed and drained
  • 3/4 cup pitted, oil-cured black olives
  • 1/3 cup capers, rinsed and dried
  • 3/4 cup pitted green olives
  • 1/2 cup red peppers packed in vinegar, rinsed, dried, and sliced into julienne strips
  • 8 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and cut into pieces
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Fill a large saucepan with water; add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil. Lower the cauliflower head gently into the water.

Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.

Test the cauliflower – it should be al dente, not overcooked.

Drain, cool, and break into flowerets.

Put the cauliflower in a large bowl and add the black olives, capers, green olives, red peppers, anchovies, and pepper to taste.

Mix together the lemon juice and olive oil and pour over the salad.

Toss gently, being careful not to break the flowerets.

Taste for salt and add more, if necessary.

Note: This may be prepared in advance and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

Pasta Caprese with Tomatoes, Basil and Mozzarella                                                     

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs fresh, ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, washed, dried and shredded
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 lb pasta, preferably penne
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • A pinch of hot pepper – pepperoncini

Directions:

An hour before your meal:

Using a wooden spoon, mix the mozzarella, tomatoes, oil and vinegar, garlic and hot pepper in a deep bowl. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover with a clean dishcloth and let it sit at room temperature for an hour.

Cook the pasta, al dente, drain the pasta and return to the warm pasta pot.

Add the basil to the tomato mixture, toss well and pour the tomato mixture onto the pasta. Mix well. Check again for seasoning, pour into serving bowl and serve.

Spicy Neapolitan Fish                                                                            

Servings: 4

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

  • 2 lbs tilapia fillets or 2 lbs red snapper or 2 lbs orange roughy fillets
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup kalamata olives (Cracked green olives work too) or 1 cup other brine-cured black olives, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped capers
  • 1 cup chopped artichoke hearts

Directions

Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.

Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper.

Add half of fish to skillet and sauté until just opaque in center, about 3 minutes per side.

Transfer fish to platter.

Repeat with remaining fish.

Add parsley and crushed red pepper to same skillet; sauté 1 minute.

Add wine, tomatoes, olives, and garlic,capers and artichoke hearts; sauté until tomatoes are soft and juicy, about 2 minutes.

Season sauce with salt and pepper; spoon over fish.  This dish may also be served over spaghetti.

Neapolitan Rum Baba

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons of baking powder
  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup of milk, warmed

Syrup:

  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 white rum
  • 1 teaspoon of rum extract

Cake Directions:

Beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy.

Add the flour and baking powder sifted together.

Beat in the butter and milk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Pour the ingredients into a greased and floured bundt pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Syrup Directions:

In a small saucepan cook the sugar in the water until syrupy.

Remove from heat and stir in the rum and rum extract.

Unmold the cake and spoon the rum syrup, slowly, all over the cake until all the syrup soaks into the cake. You can also brush the syrup on with a pastry brush.


Everyone loves a pizza party! But this is no elementary school birthday party; this is a full-out feast of grown-up pies, best enjoyed with everyone pitching in for pizza creation together. Invite eight to ten of your friends over, open a few bottles of wine, and spend the evening assembling, topping and baking your pies. Split up the prep work on the day of dinner by assigning each guest to bring a pizza toppings. This is a meal to eat in stages, as each new pizza comes out of the oven, cut into small slices so everyone can have a taste.

For this menu, you want wines that pair easily with a variety of foods and don’t cost too much per bottle, so you can serve them generously for a crowd. Serve both red and white wines so guests can choose their preference. You can round out the menu with a green salad and a simple dessert, such as cookies or brownies or ice cream.

Some Party Suggestions:

Do make the dough beforehand and freeze it in individual round portions or pan size portions.

Defrost the dough overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature about two hours before guests arrive. 

Don’t buy the premade crusts, they just don’t taste the same as homemade dough. Purchased pizza dough is ok.

Do encourage your guests to stretch and roll out their own dough.

Do offer up interesting pizza toppers to create unusual pizzas or assign guests certain toppings to bring and share. The ingredients should be able to stand the intense heat of the oven, stay moist or crisp and complement the basic taste of the base.

Do interact with your guests. If you stay at the oven all night, you won’t have fun. Share the work.

Here are some pizza party ideas and they mix and match perfectly.

Pizza Margarita

Super simple, but unbelievably flavorful, this classic is made from buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil.

Caramelized Red Onion Pizza with Capers and Olives

There’s no tomato sauce but this succulent pizza is always a hit. Onions are cooked until soft and caramelized and spread on top of mozzarella slices. The olives and capers make the sweet onions more savory.

Pear, Pecorino and Taleggio Pizza

This is a new twist on pizza, but the flavor combinations work well together. Almost like a dessert course, the pears and cheese melt together. For a heartier meal feel free to add some Italian sausage scattered throughout.

Sicilian Shrimp and Tomato Pizza

Topped with whole cherry tomatoes, shrimp, garlic, red pepper flakes, grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley, this pizza will add a kick to your party. Make sure to offer plates as it’s a little sloppy but well worth it.

Pizza Party Menu

Rather than making five different kinds of pizza dough, ignore the dough portions of each of these pizza recipes, and make four batches in advance of your pizza party. Then use the recipes simply for their toppings, or improvise your own unique topping combinations.

The key to making pizzeria-quality thin-crust pizza is a blazing-hot oven. The best way to replicate the intense heat of such an oven at home is by using a baking stone and cooking under the broiler. The stone absorbs and radiates heat, crisping the bottom of the pizza, while the broiler renders the toppings golden brown.

Allow the dough to come to room temperature before shaping. I usually take my pizza dough balls out of the refrigerator at least two hours before I need them.

Weigh the dough for individual pizzas; generally 6-8 ounces in size. Pan dough usually weighs 1 pound.

Thirty minutes before you need to make your pizza, lightly flour the ball, then press it into a circle about 1 inch thick. Cover with a kitchen towel until needed.

Use your hands and instead of a rolling pin to shape your crust. This will help to create a light crust with air pockets. The rolling pin pushes all the air out and will give you a flatter, less tender pizza crust. Use the base of your palm and fingers and keep turning the circle of dough as you gently stretch it.

Brush olive oil around the edges of the pizza dough before you add the sauce and toppings to ensure a golden brown crisp crust.

Italian Pizza Dough For The Party

This may not be your perfect dough recipe, but for me, it creates dough that is soft enough that I can press into a pizza pan with my hands and allows the crust to rise nicely during baking. It is also a very tender to the bite crust that has just enough chew to it, but it doesn’t toughen up when it cools. The other non-traditional aspect of this dough is that white wine is used along with the water to help keep the dough tender. As for yeast, I use SAS brand Rapid Rise Yeast also called instant yeast) for all my bread baking and it has never let me down and it doesn’t require proofing. This dough also freezes very well, so I often make a double batch and then weigh the balls, oil them, and wrap them in plastic wrap. I then store them in an airtight freezer bags in my freezer for future use.

Makes 4 large or 6 individual pizzas

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups All-purpose Flour, level with knife
  • 4 cups Italian Flour (Tipo 00), level with knife
  • (If you do not have access to Italian flour use 7 cups all purpose flour or 2 cups white whole wheat flour and 5 cups all purpose flour)
  • 1 cup Dry White Wine
  • 2 cups Warm Water
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons Rapid Rise Yeast
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 2 tablespoons Olive OIl

Directions:

In a large electric mixer bowl mix together the two flours, the white wine, yeast, salt, and olive oil.

Slowly add in the warm water, stirring with the paddle attachment as you go until the dough comes together in a ball.

Switch to the dough hook. Knead until the dough is very smooth, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap and let double in size.

Divide the dough into 8 ounce portions for individual pizzas or 1 pound portions for pizza pans and roll each in a ball.

Place the balls on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed if using on the same day or wrap and freeze for the day of the party .

Remove the dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before needed, allowing them to completely come to room temperature before using.

 

Making the Pizzas:

Lightly flour dough balls; transfer to a floured 9″ x 13″ baking pan; cover with plastic wrap. Meanwhile, place a baking stone on bottom rack of oven, about 13″ from heating element; heat broiler and stone for at least 1 hour.

Put 1 piece dough on floured wooden pizza peel or pizza pan; flatten with your fingertips.

*For baking directly on the stone:

Pick up dough and, using your knuckles and backs of your hands, gently and evenly stretch out dough, working from center outward and rotating as you go in order to make a circle of dough; let weight of dough stretch edges until circle of dough has reached a diameter of 12″.

Sprinkle pizza peel with more flour; transfer dough to front edge of peel. Brush edges of dough with extra-virgin olive oil; sprinkle dough with 1⁄4 cup grated grana padano cheese, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add toppings (see pizza recipes below).

Transfer pizza to baking stone by resting end of peel on far edge of stone, holding peel at an angle, and gently pulling it back so that lip of dough catches stone and dough slides onto it. Cook pizza, rotating every 2 minutes with a long metal spatula, until edges are golden, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a board; slice and serve. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes four 12″ pizzas.

*If baking in a pizza pan follow directions for pressing dough into the pan and place the pan on the baking stone. Bake about 12 -15 minutes in an the oven heated to 500 degrees F.

Soppressata, Tomato, and Olive Pizza

  • Pizza Dough, recipe above
  • 1⁄4 cup oven roasted sliced plum or cherry tomatoes
  • 6 thin slices soppressata
  • 10 pitted black olives
  • 2 tablespoons grated grana padano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon. olive oil

Directions:

Make pizza dough according to instructions.

Dot dough with tomatoes, soppressata, and olives. Sprinkle with cheese; drizzle with olive oil.

Transfer pizza to a baking stone and cook pizza, under the broiler, rotating every 2 minutes with a long metal spatula, until edges are golden, 6-8 minutes.

Transfer pizza to a board; slice and serve.

Broccoli Rabe, Goat Cheese, and Lemon Zest Pizza 

  • Pizza Dough, recipe above
  • 1⁄4 cup broccoli rabe, cooked and chopped
  • 2 oz. crumbled goat or feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons. grated lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions:

Make pizza dough according to instructions.

Cover dough with broccoli rabe, goat cheese, lemon zest, and salt and pepper; drizzle with olive oil.

Transfer pizza to a baking stone and cook pizza, under the broiler, rotating every 2 minutes with a long metal spatula, until edges are golden, 6-8 minutes.

Transfer pizza to a board; slice and serve.

Prosciutto, Chili, and Onion Pizza

  • Pizza Dough, recipe above
  • 1⁄2 cup sauteed onions
  • 1 chili pepper, thinly sliced
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto
  • Grated grana padano cheese

Directions:

Make pizza dough according to instructions.

Spread onions and chiles over dough.

Transfer pizza to a baking stone and cook pizza, under the broiler, rotating every 2 minutes with a long metal spatula, until edges are golden, 6-8 minutes.

After baking, drape prosciutto over top and sprinkle with cheese.

Transfer pizza to a board; slice and serve.

Mushroom and Fontina Pizza

  • Pizza Dough, recipe above
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus 4 sprigs for garnish
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 medium shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups freshly grated fontina cheese
  • 1⁄4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

 Directions:

Make pizza dough according to instructions. Place pizza stone on bottom rack of the oven and heat oven to 500 degrees F.

Heat 2 tablespoons. of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté mushrooms, thyme leaves, salt, and pepper. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until wilted, 5 minutes. Add vinegar slowly, cook for 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, cook for 2 more minutes, and season with salt and pepper.

To assemble pizza, stretch dough into a 12″ round on a pizza pan, pinching edge to form ridge. Cover with half the fontina, all the mushrooms, and all the tomato mixture. Top with remaining fontina and parmesan. Place pan on pizza stone and bake until crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Garnish with thyme sprigs.

Have Fun !



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