Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: Pizza

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 !


Fontina is considered to be one of the world’s best cheeses. Its nutty, creamy flavor is appreciated everywhere.

Fontina Italian cheese is a table cheese as well as an excellent cheese for cooking. It is favored the world over for both its versatility and its taste. It also appeals to a wide variety of people because of its smooth and nutty taste. Fontina cheese is perfect in a wide range of recipes because it melts more evenly and smoothly than many other cheeses.

Mountain peacefullness - photo courtesy of Val d'Aosta Tourist Board

Val d’Aosta – Situated in the northwestern tip of the country, Valle d’Aosta is Italy’s smallest region. Its borders with France are marked by the highest mountains in Europe: Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, the Matterhorn and Gran Paradiso, making it a favourite destination for winter sports lovers.

In Italy, fontina cheese has been made in the Val d’Aosta area since the 12th century. In 1957, a consortium of dairy producers and cheesemakers joined together to protect the cheese, and they created a stamp for Fontina cheese and the cheese is stamped with this mark if it meets the standards that have been in place since 1957. Traditionally, Italian fontina cheese has a slightly flowery, summery flavor, thanks to the diet of the cows which are used to produce it. The cheese is also aged longer than other varieties, and it can get quite hard. Italian fontina also has a dark brown rind, which gets darker the longer that the cheese is aged.

To preserve the fresh natural taste of the whole, raw milk from which Fontina is produced, the cheese making process is done within two hours of milking. Once it is made, it is shaped into various forms and braids. The Fontina is then aged under proper humidity and temperature conditions to give the finished product the unique taste that this cheese is known for in the culinary world.

Aosta Valley Fontina

The intervention by man is daily: it needs constant care to make Fontina. The forms are turned over every day, alternating one day for salting and one for brushing. The scrubbing serves to take away from the crust the layer of mould due to the natural fermentation and to make the crust humid. The approximate period for maturing is 3 months.

In terms of color, fontina cheese ranges from ivory to golden yellow. It is produced in rounds and its texture is smooth and firm. All fontinas must be made from cow’s milk. As a general rule, the milk is usually raw, and the best fontina cheese is made from milk which is as fresh as possible. The interior of the cheese is classically riddled with very small holes. The milkfat content is usually around 45%, so the cheese tends to be very rich and creamy, with a nutty flavor that gets stronger with aging. Since the cheese  melts very well,  it is included in fondue and similar dishes.

There are two other cheeses that are similar to fontina in both taste and appearance. These are fontinella and fontal. However, neither are produced in the Aosta valley, so they cannot be called fontina.

Caring for Fontina Cheese

Fontina should be refrigerated. The open cut on the cheese should be protected with tightly fitting plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Kept this way, it should last between four and five months. As it is stored, however, you can expect it to age naturally and become more pungent.

Among its many uses, fontina is a traditional table cheese in Italy. It is served alongside other table cheeses, such as gorgonzola, along with crusty Italian bread, fresh fruit, black olives, and perhaps some crisp raw vegetables.

When selecting fontina cheese in the store, look for an evenly textured piece without discoloration. Older Italian cheese may have a strong aroma, but young cheese should have a relatively neutral flavor. An Italian fontina stamped with the mark of the consortium will have a high quality, although it may cost more than imitations of the cheese made in other parts of Italy and the rest of the world.

Fontina is a wonderful cheese to use in addition to mozzarella on a pizza. It’s smooth texture and tangy flavor make a delicious topping for any gratin, and this creamy cheese also melts nicely into soups, chowders, pasta or sauces.

For a twist on the traditional grilled cheese sandwich, substitute Fontina Cheese for Cheddar or American the next time you make one. A croissant with ham and Granny Smith apple slices can be heated with Fontina Cheese for a unique sandwich idea. Even such simple dishes as baked potatoes or macaroni and cheese can be enhanced by the addition of Fontina.

Breakfast

Chive and Fontina Frittata

 Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs and 1 cup egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup lowfat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 2 teaspoons butter or Smart Balance spread
  • 3 ounces shredded Fontina cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In medium bowl, with wire whisk or fork, mix eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Stir in diced tomato and chopped chives.

In nonstick 10-inch skillet with oven-safe handle (or wrap handle with heavy-duty foil), melt butter over medium heat. Pour in egg mixture; sprinkle cheese on top of egg mixture. Cook 3 to 4 minutes until frittata begins to set around the edge.

Place skillet in oven. Bake 9 to 10 minutes or until frittata begins to set and knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Serves 4.

 

Lunch

Pesto and Roasted Eggplant Pizza

 

 Ingredients:

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Cut peeled eggplant into 1/2-inch thick slices; cut each in half crosswise. Brush baking sheet with 2 teaspoons of the oil; arrange eggplant in single layer on top. Brush with 1 tablespoon more of the oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast, turning halfway through, for about 30 minutes or until dark and tender. Raise oven temperature to 500ºF.

Spread the pesto over the pizza dough; sprinkle with Fontina cheese. Arrange eggplant over top, then tomatoes or spread pizza sauce over eggplant. Drizzle remaining oil over tomatoes.

Bake in bottom third of the oven until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden and slightly puffed.

 

 

Side Dish

Brown Rice With Cheese

Ingredients:

  • Salt
  • 1  1/2 cups brown rice, rinsed well
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup grated fontina cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper.

 Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it as you would to cook pasta. Add rice and stir. When water returns to a boil, lower heat and cook rice until tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain in a fine colander.

2. Put butter in the same pan and turn heat to medium. When butter melts and just begins to turn brown, add rice and toss together. Stir in Fontina cheese, Parmesan, along with salt and pepper.

Yield: 4 servings.

 

 

 

Dinner

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Greens, Beans, Pancetta, and Garlic Bread Crumbs

For a vegetarian entree, leave out the pancetta.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices fresh Italian bread (about 3 ounces), crusts removed and torn into quarters
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons), divided
  • Table salt
  • 3 ounces pancetta or proscuitto, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 medium onion , diced small (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1  1/2 pounds kale (loosely packed) or swiss chard leaves, thick stems trimmed, leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces and rinsed, water still clinging to leaves
  • 1  1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans , drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 pound whole wheat spaghetti
  • 4 ounces fontina cheese , coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
  • Ground black pepper

 Directions:

1. Pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant and bread crumbs are dark golden brown, about 1 minute. Season bread crumbs with salt, transfer to small serving bowl, and set aside. Wipe out pan with paper towels.

2. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in now-empty pan over medium-high heat, add pancetta, and cook until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to a paper towel. Do not wipe out pan.

3. Add onion to pan; cook until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add remaining tablespoon garlic and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. Add half of the greens to pan; using tongs, toss occasionally, until starting to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add remaining greens, broth, and 3/4 teaspoon salt; cover (pan will be very full); increase heat to high and bring to strong simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, tossing occasionally, until greens are tender, about 15 minutes (mixture will be somewhat soupy). Stir in beans and pancetta.

5. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add spaghetti and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is just barely al dente. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add greens to pasta, set over medium-high heat, and toss to combine. Cook until pasta absorbs most of the liquid, about 2 minutes. Add fontina; adjust seasonings. Top with garlic bread crumbs.

 

Turkey Meatloaf with Fontina and Mushrooms

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 small leeks, white and light-green parts only, thinly sliced, washed, and dried thoroughly
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese (4 ounces)
  • 1 slice day-old bread, processed into large crumbs
  • 1 large egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1  1/2 pounds ground turkey (93 percent lean)

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Working in batches, cook mushrooms, stirring once or twice, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes per batch. Season with salt and pepper; transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Return skillet to medium and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add leeks and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 4 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Add to bowl with mushrooms and let cool.

Add fontina, bread, egg, and sage to bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Mix in turkey, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. On a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet, use your hands to form turkey mixture into a 10-inch loaf. Bake until cooked through, about 45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

 


 

In one of its many forms, pizza has been a basic part of the Italian diet since the Stone Age. The earliest form of pizza was a crude bread that was baked beneath the stones of a fire. After cooking, it was seasoned with a variety of different toppings and used instead of a bowl or eating utensils to sop up broth or gravies. It is said that the idea of using bread as a plate came from the Greeks who ate flat round bread (plankuntos) baked with an assortment of toppings. It was eaten by the working man and his family because it was a thrifty and convenient food.

1st Century B.C.

In the translated version of “The Aeneid” written by Virgil (70-19 B.C.), it describes the legendary origin of the Roman nation, describing cakes or circles of bread:

“Beneath a shady tree, the hero spread

His table on the turf, with cakes of bread;

And, with his chiefs, on forest fruits he fed.

They sate; and, (not without the god’s command)

Their homely fare dispatch’d, the hungry band

Invade their trenchers next, and soon devour,

To mend the scanty meal, their cakes of flour.

Ascanius this observ’d, and smiling said:

“See, we devour the plates on which we fed.”

Our knowledge of Roman cooking derives mainly from the excavations at Pompeii and from a book by Marcus Gavius Apicius called “De Re Coquinaria.” Apicius was a culinary expert and from his writings, he provided us with information on ancient Roman cuisine. Apicius’  book contains recipes which involve putting a variety of ingredients on a base of bread (a hollowed-out loaf). The recipe uses chicken meat, pine kernels, cheese, garlic, mint, pepper, and oil (all ingredients of the contemporary pizza). The recipe concludes with the instruction “insupernive, et inferes” which means “cool in snow and serve!”

In the ashes after Mount Vesuvius erupted and smothered Pompeii on August 24, 79 A.D., evidence was found of a flat flour cake that was baked and widely eaten at that time in Pompeii and nearby Neopolis, The Greek colony that became Naples. Evidence was also found in Pompeii of shops, complete with marble slabs and other tools of the trade, which resemble the conventional pizzeria.

Roman Times

Pizza migrated to America with the Italians in the latter half of the 19th century. For many people, especially among the Italian-American population, the first American pizzas were known as Tomato Pie (as my parents always called pizza). Even in the present 21st century, present-day tomato pie is most commonly found in the Northeastern United States, especially in Italian bakeries in central New York. Tomato pies are built the opposite of pizza pies – first the cheese, then the sauce, and then the topping. This is exactly how I have always made pizza.

So let’s model our early inventors of this marvelous food, get creative and think about a new way you can use pizza dough. I would love to hear if you have a nontraditional way of using pizza dough.

Quick Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

This make-ahead dough has endless uses for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Ingredients:

3 packages (1/4 ounce each) quick-rise yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2-1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 to 3-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour

Directions:

In a large electric mixer bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, salt and whole wheat flour; set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat water and oil to 120°-130°; stir into dry ingredients.

With paddle attachment stir in enough white whole wheat flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).

Switch to the dough hook and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

Punch down dough; divide into three equal portions.
Use immediately or refrigerate overnight or freeze for up to 1 month.
Yield: 3 pounds (enough for 3 pizzas).
If using frozen dough, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Proceed as directed below.

Italian Spinach Braid

6 Servings

Ingredients:

1 loaf (1 pound) frozen whole wheat pizza dough, thawed
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon fennel seed
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg white, beaten
Pizza sauce, optional

Directions:

Roll dough into a 12-in. x 9-in. rectangle. Transfer to a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray.

Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook turkey over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.

Transfer to a large bowl; add the spinach, cheeses, garlic, fennel seed, oregano and salt.

Spread mixture lengthwise down the center of dough. On each long side, cut 1-in.-wide strips 3 in. into center.

Starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across filling. Pinch ends to seal and brush with egg white.

Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with pizza sauce if desired.

Scrambled Egg Turnovers

4 Servings

Ingredients:

4 eggs and 1 cup egg substitute beaten together, divided
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 portion (1 lb.) frozen whole wheat pizza dough, thawed
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Set aside 2 tablespoons of the egg mixture. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook and stir remaining egg mixture over medium heat until almost set.

Stir in mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and basil. Cook and stir until completely set.

Remove from the heat.

On a floured surface, roll dough into a 13-in. square. Cut into four squares; transfer to a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray.

Spoon cooked egg mixture over half of each square to within 1/2 in. of edges.

Brush edges of dough with 1 tablespoon reserved egg.

Fold one corner over filling to the opposite corner, forming a triangle; press edges with a fork to seal. Cut slits in top.

Brush with  remaining egg; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Swiss Turkey Stromboli

4 Servings

Ingredients:

3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1 portion (1 lb.) frozen whole wheat pizza dough, thawed
3 slices reduced-fat Swiss cheese
6 ounces sliced deli turkey
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water

Directions:

In a large nonstick skillet, saute mushrooms and onion in oil until tender. Stir in mustard; set aside.

On a floured surface, roll dough into a 15-in. x 10-in. rectangle.

Transfer to a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

Layer the cheese, mushroom mixture and turkey lengthwise over half of dough to within 1/2 in. of edges.

Fold dough over filling; pinch seams to seal and tuck ends under.

Combine egg white and water; brush over dough. Cut slits in top.

Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Whole Wheat Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns (Bread Machine). Photo by SunnyZ

Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns

Take your 1 pound package of pizza dough out of the refrigerator and let it warm up to room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.

Grease a cookie sheet with olive oil. Sprinkle some flour onto a flat, clean board or counter top.

Take the pizza dough out of the package and place it on the surface you floured. Divide it into eight balls. For large hamburger buns, divide the dough into six.

Brush each dough ball with olive oil.

Place the balls of dough onto the cookie sheet with a space between each one. Cover the cookie sheet with a clean towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 20 minutes.

Turn on your oven and preheat it to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

After 20 minutes remove the towel or plastic wrap and place the cookie sheet into the oven.

Bake the hamburger buns for 20 to 30 minutes or until they are golden. Check them after 15 minutes to make sure they are getting too brown, as some ovens bake hotter than others.

Let the hamburger buns cool on a rack and then slice each bun in half horizontally.

Since I prefer to make my own hamburger buns from whole wheat dough, I purchased a burger baking pan from King Arthur.

Individual Pie and Burger Bun Pan

 


With a nod to good health and great taste, consider some out-of-the-ordinary vegetarian entrée options for grilling this summer. There’s more to vegetable grilling than just throwing some sliced vegetables onto the grill. With the right recipes, you can create tasty meat-free menu items that are substantial enough to take center plate at your cookout. They’ll be just as hearty as the meat options you’re serving, and full of fantastic flavor, thanks to time spent on the grill.
Don’t be surprised if the meat-eating guests take to these dishes as much as the vegetarians do. And if the attending carnivores want further motivation besides great taste, here it is: Research has shown that reducing the amount meat in your diet can cut your risk of developing cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

At backyard barbecues around the country, a vegetarian can often feel like the odd person out — forced to bring his own entrees or to pick around the edges. Fortunately grilling season kicks into high gear just as vegetable produce peaks. Not only are gardeners growing veggies by the bagful, but supermarket prices for fresh fruits and vegetables are also low. This is a chance for hard-core grillers to bring their talents of outdoor cookery to dishes for the meatless crowd.

In addition to providing the smoky flavor that emanates from the coals, grilling caramelizes the natural sugars in the vegetables and makes them taste extra sweet. Just about anything that sprouts from the ground or grows on a tree can be suspended over coals, including corn on the cob, zucchini, potatoes, onions, pineapples, mangoes, and mushrooms. Most vegetarian foods are more delicate than meat and have less fat. So to keep food from sticking to the grill and falling apart, it’s important to keep the grill clean and well-oiled.

Once the grill is hot, scrape it well with a grill brush to remove burned-on bits of food. Then fold a paper towel into a small square, soak it with vegetable oil. Grab it with your long-handled tongs and rub down the grill thoroughly.

For sandwiches, cut veggies like zucchini and eggplant lengthwise into thin slices–or into thick rings, in the case of onions, tomatoes, and peppers. Round out the meal by serving grilled veggies over pasta, rice, or polenta. Asparagus is one of the best and simplest vegetables to grill and is terrific in pastas and rice dishes. Leave the spears whole and simply lay them perpendicular across the grill grates!

No Fake Meat And No Tofu Recipes:


How To Make Pizza On the Grill

Grilled pizzas are a specific style of pie: typically thin-crusted, they’re lightly sauced (too much liquid means a soggy crust) with minimal toppings. They also cook very fast.

Make the Dough

Use your favorite crust recipe or see recipe below. Divide the dough into two or more pieces and shape into balls for individual-sized pizzas. Set the dough aside to proof while you prepare your toppings.
Tip: if you have a heavy-duty mixer or bread machine, double the recipe. Divide and shape the dough, and freeze each portion in a plastic freezer bag greased with about a tablespoon of olive oil for another dinner.

Assemble Your Toppings

With grilled pizza, the crust is the star. Choose a few simple ingredients that can showcase the smoky flavor and crispy crust. Or go for minimalism: top the grilled bread with a brushing of good olive oil, a sprinkling of coarse salt, and bit of chopped fresh herbs.
Suggested bases: marinara, pesto, flavored olive oil, salsa verde.
Suggested cheeses: mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, feta cheese, Parmesan, Gorgonzola.
Ideas for toppings: grilled vegetables, fresh figs, fresh herbs, fresh arugula, toasted pine nuts, olives or capers, caramelized onions, roasted garlic.

Grill the Crust

Prepare the grill for high heat.

Shape the dough into rounds, either stretching it by hand or using a rolling pin. Each round should be no more than ¼ inch thick. You can stack the rounds by layering waxed paper, parchment, or a clean well-floured kitchen towel in between the individual crusts. When the coals are hot, have all of your toppings ready near the grill.

The easiest method for grilling pizza is to par-bake the crust: grill one side just long enough to firm up the crust so you can move it easily. By taking it off the heat, you can take your time arranging the toppings and are less likely to burn the bottom of the pizza.

Begin by placing one or two dough rounds on the grill.

  • You can oil the grill grates, but it’s not necessary; once the crust has set, after about three minutes, it should be easy to pull off the heat with tongs, a spatula, or your fingers.
  • Don’t worry if it droops a little through the grate–it’ll firm up fast.
  • After two to three minutes, give it a little tug–it should move easily. If it sticks, give it another minute or so.
  • When the crust is set, remove it from the heat and transfer it to a plate or peel; flip it over so the “done” side is up, and add the toppings.
 

Grill the topped pizzas until the cheese melts and the toppings are heated through. Depending upon the heat of the grill and the size of your pies, this can take two to 10 minutes (if your grill has cooled dramatically, you might need to cover it with a lid to finish the cooking).

Grilled Veggie Pizza

4 pizzas

Ingredients:

Dough:
5 cups all-purpose flour ( or half whole wheat and half white flour)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast (or active dry yeast, dissolved)
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3/4 cups room temperature water

Directions:
Combine  ingredients in a mixer with a dough hook and knead for six minutes. Let rise until doubled. Divide into 4 balls of dough and keep covered.

Toppings: (Enough for 4 pies)

  • 2 pounds mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups sweet corn
  • 4 scallions, diced
  • Fresh oregano or basil

Directions:
Place ingredients in small bowls near the grill for easy access.

Simple sauce:

  • 2 cups tomato sauce (depending on how saucy you like your pies)
  • 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • Big pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:
Stir together sauce ingredients and place near grill.

Appetizers

Eggplant Caponata Crostini

Serves 8                                                                                                                                                                                   

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for grilling
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar or Truvia sugar substitute equivalent
  • 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 8- 1/4-inch-thick diagonal slices Italian bread
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat a  BBQ grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush both sides of eggplant slices lightly with oil. Grill 6 minutes on each side. Cut into ½ inch cubes.
  2. Start sauce while eggplant grills. Don’t turn off grill.
  3. In a 5-quart Dutch oven or pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, raisins, pine nuts, garlic, and red-pepper flakes; cook stirring occasionally, until onion has softened, 4 to 6 minutes.
  4. Add tomato paste, cocoa powder, and sugar; cook, stirring, until tomato paste is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggplant, vinegar, and 1/3 cup water.
  5. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick, 7 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and more sugar (up to 1 tablespoon), as desired.
  6. Brush both sides of bread with olive oil. Grill, turning once, until toasted and grill marks appear, about 2 minutes per side.
  7. Top grilled bread with caponata; garnish with basil leaves. Caponata can be refrigerated up to 5 days in an airtight container; let cool completely before storing.

Grilled Caprese Sandwiches

4 Sandwiches                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices round narrow Italian bread
  • 2 large garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 slices (6 oz.) fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 2 ripe plum tomatoes, thinly sliced (8 slices)
  • Pesto
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Rub a side of each slice of bread with a cut side of garlic and brush with oil. Spread the plain side of half the bread slices with a thin layer of pesto.

Layer cheese and tomatoes on top of the pesto.  Sprinkle with black pepper. Top with remaining bread, garlic side up. Grill sandwiches until grill marks appear and cheese is beginning to melt, 6 minutes, turning once.

Main Dishes

Stuffed Grilled Zucchini

4 servings.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp, leaving 1/4-in. shells. Brush with 2 teaspoons oil; set aside. Chop pulp.
In a skillet, saute pulp and onion in remaining oil. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add bread crumbs; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the mozzarella cheese, oregano and salt.
Spoon into zucchini shells. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Grill, covered, over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until zucchini is tender.

Tomatoes Stuffed with Cannellini and Couscous

Serves: 6

After the initial assembly, this dish takes care of itself. If you like, you can prepare and grill the tomatoes well ahead of serving. The flavors will get even better.

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

  • ½ cup couscous
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (preferably extra-virgin), divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 6 large ripe but firm tomatoes (10 ounces each; about 4 3/4 pounds total)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

Directions:

Preheat the grill. Coat a 9″ x 6″ disposable foil pan with cooking spray.
In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, or until the onion is softened.

Meanwhile, cut 1/4″ slices from the tomato tops. Discard the tops. With a serrated knife or spoon, scoop out the tomato flesh, leaving 1/4″-thick walls. Set aside. Finely chop the tomato flesh. Add to the onion along with the beans, parsley, Italian seasoning, pepper, vegetable broth and the couscous. Stir to combine. Spoon into the reserved tomato shells, mounding slightly. Spoon any extra stuffing into the base of the pan. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Cover with aluminum foil.

Place on the grill away from direct heat. Grill, rotating the pan occasionally, for about 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender and the tops are golden.  Allow to stand for 20 minutes.

Grilled Stuffed Eggplant 

Serves: 6                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Ingredients:

  • 3 small eggplants, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 3 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:
Preheat a covered grill to medium-high.
With a small, sharp knife, scoop out the flesh of each eggplant leaving 1/4-inch thick shells  and place in a medium bowl. Add the cheese, bread crumbs, tomatoes, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to mix. Stuff the mixture tightly into each eggplant half. Drizzle with the oil.
Place the eggplant halves in a disposable aluminum foil pan. Set on the grill. Cover and grill for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the eggplant is soft and the top is golden and crisp.

Portobello Burgers with Roasted Peppers, Mozzarella, and Caramelized Onions

Serves: 4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

This grilled “burger” with all the trimmings will satisfy even devoted beef fans. Serve some oven sweet potato fries on the side.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps, about 3 1/2-4 ounces each
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese, about 2 ounces
  • 4 (100-calorie) light multi-grain english muffins or hamburger buns
  • 2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips

Directions:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Preheat the grill.
Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Combine the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and the vinegar in a small bowl. Brush the mixture over the mushroom caps and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
Grill, covered, turning occasionally, until tender, 9 to 11 minutes. Top each with 1 slice of the cheese and grill until the cheese melts, about 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
Toast the muffins or rolls. Place the bottom half of each muffin on a plate and top with 1 portobello cap, one-fourth of the roasted peppers, and one-fourth of the onion. Top with the remaining muffin halves.


Classic Italian foods such as pizza, bruschetta, pasta, rice, soups, and stews all typically include this blend of herbs. The mixture can be used to season lamb, pork, poultry, fish, and beef dishes.  Sandwiches, meat marinades, salads, and flavored breads can also be seasoned with Italian herbs.

One popular use of Italian seasonings involves mixing them with butter and Parmesan cheese to make a spread to use on breads, crackers, and other foods. Vegetables that are particularly good when flavored with Italian seasonings include potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant. Italian seasoning can be used to flavor vinegar, olive oil, and other dips and sauces as well.

Italian seasoning blend is considered a staple herbal mix in most pantries. It can be purchased pre-mixed from grocery stores, farmer’s markets, and most places where food supplies are sold. Italian seasonings are usually sold in a plastic or glass jar, though some fresh varieties can be purchased in sealed bags or other airtight packages.  Blends can, also, be created from fresh herbs at home.

ESSENTIAL ITALIAN SPICES

Rosemary: The fresh, strong taste of rosemary enhances poultry, fish, and seafood. Italian cooks often add it to roasted lamb with potatoes and many grilled meats as well. Try it in any vegetable dish and in breads, especially focaccia.  The woody stems are often used in place of skewers for grilling kabobs.

Sage: This herb is typically found in stuffings, poultry and meat dishes, sausages and soups. Italian cooks also use it, along with garlic, to flavor butter for pasta dishes. It enhances salads (especially bean salads), and dressings. Sage is traditional in Tuscan white beans and in Saltimbocca, a veal dish.  Chopped sage can be added to cornbread for a different flavor combination.

Chilies: Italian cooks sometimes use pungent chili peppers to enliven sauces, stews, and seafood dishes. They’re also often found in Italian sausages. Experiment with different varieties for different effects.

Fennel Seeds: The distinct, licorice-like fennel is found in Italian meatballs and sausage and with roasted meats and fish. To enhance the flavor, toast the seeds lightly before adding to your dish.

Chives: For a mild onion flavor, Italian cooks use chives in salads and dressings, pasta dishes, casseroles, soups and stews. Dried chives are a convenient staple.

Marjoram: Like its relative oregano, marjoram is used liberally in Italian kitchens. It’s a versatile seasoning, compatible with many vegetables, meats and poultry. You’ll find it used in recipes for Italian soups, stews, sauces, and salad dressings.

Thyme: Its affinity for tomatoes makes thyme a good choice in Italian cooking.  Aromatic and pungent, it takes just a light touch to season poultry, seafood, fish, meats, marinades and stuffing. Sprinkle thyme on top of blue cheese and serve with fresh figs for a great appetizer.

Bay: Bay leaves are an important addition to Italian broths, soups and stews, grilled meats, and roasted poultry. It generally takes just one leaf to fully season a large serving.

Onions: “Sauté onion and garlic” begins many an Italian recipe. Dried onion flakes, onion powder, onion granules, minced onion and onion salt provide maximum convenience. Add them directly to soups and sauces, dressings and casseroles.

Nutmeg: Not just a dessert spice in the Italian kitchen, nutmeg adds a rich scent and flavor to ravioli filling and tortellini dishes. You’ll also find it in recipes for Bolognese meat sauce and Italian stews.

Basil:  A member of the mint family, basil has shiny green leaves and a fragrant aroma. Basil’s flavor is sweet and pungent.  Good in all tomato, pepper and eggplant dishes. Try adding chopped basil to corn on the cob.

Sauces

Salsa Verde

Salsa verde is used as a condiment or dipping sauce for grilled meats, fish, poultry, or vegetables.

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers
  • 1 whole garlic clove
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth

Directions:
Put the parsley, capers, the whole garlic clove, the lemon juice, anchovy paste, mustard,  salt, and pepper into a food processor or blender. Pulse just to chop, six to eight times. With the machine running, add the oil and chicken broth in a thin stream to make a slightly coarse puree. Leave this salsa verde in the food processor until ready to serve; pulse to re-emulsify just before serving.

Low-Fat Fettuccine Alfredo

Recipe makes enough sauce for 9 ounces fresh fettuccine pasta, cooked
4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and lightly crushed but kept whole
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Directions:

In a small saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until foaming. Whisk in the flour until mixture is smooth and golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, half-and-half, garlic, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Discard garlic, stir in Parmesan and remove from heat.

Spaghetti Carbonara Low Fat Version

I prefer to use egg substitute instead of the traditional raw eggs in this recipe.

4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cooked whole wheat spaghetti,
  • 2 bacon strips cooked, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves (for garnish)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix parmesan cheese with egg substitute. Set aside.
Heat a large sauté pan and add olive oil. Sauté garlic until fragrant. Add the cooked pasta to the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute to heat
the pasta up. Add the egg substitute mixture and cook until thickened but not scrambled.
Serve in individual portions and sprinkle each with the crumbled bacon and chopped parsley

Sicilian Pistachio Sauce

This orange-scented sauce from Sicily can be served with fish or vegetables, or as a topping for crostini.

Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs, moistened with water and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
Turn on a food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop in the garlic. When the garlic is chopped and adhering to the sides of the bowl, stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the salt, bread crumbs and pistachios and process to a paste. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Turn on the machine and add the orange zest, orange juice, and lemon juice. With the machine still running slowly pour in the olive oil. Taste and adjust salt.
Yield: Makes about 1 1/4 cups
Advance preparation: This will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator. It will become more pungent.

Piedmontese Tomato Sauce

Good with gnocchi or as a side with grilled flank steak.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped 
  • 1 large tomato, cored, seeded and roughly chopped 
  • 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • Fine sea salt 
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar 

Directions:
In a large skillet combine bell pepper, tomato, onion, oil and pinch salt. Bring to a simmer. Gently simmer, covered, until vegetables are very soft, about 12 minutes. Add vinegar and cook, uncovered, 1 minute more. Process with an immersion blender or strain through a mesh colander and transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.

Sicilian Pesto

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 to 2 serrano chilies, cored, and seeded, depending on how spicy you like your food
  • 1 tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup plus ¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • Salt 

Directions:
Place the basil, mint, garlic, chilies, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, and almonds in a food processor and pulse three times to start the chopping process. Add in the oil in a thin stream and pulse four or five times to create a thick paste (not a thin, oily sauce). Add ¼ cup of the cheese and pulse once to mix it in.
Season the pesto with salt, if it needs it.

Butter and Sage Sauce                                                              

Good sauce for ravioli or gnocchi and will cover a 8-9 oz. of fresh pasta.
Serves:  4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions:

While your pasta cooks, melt butter in a small saute pan and continue cooking until a golden brown color just starts to appear . Add sage leaves and remove from heat. Add lemon juice and the cheese.  Drizzle over cooked pasta.

Easy Pizza Sauce

Makes enough sauce for 2 pizzas.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes 
  • 1- 28-oz. container Pomi strained tomatoes 
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:
Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, 5 minutes. Add garlic and chili flakes; cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes, increase heat until sauce starts to bubble. Lower heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened, 20 minutes. Stir in honey, basil and salt and pepper to taste. 

Spices                                                                                                                                                                                 

Homemade Italian Seasoning

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1/2 cup dried basil
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup dried rosemary
  • 1/4 cup dried marjoram
  • 1/4 cup dried parsley
  • 1/4 cup dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup dried savory
  • 2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients; store in an airtight glass container.

Italian Parmesan Paste

This is a cheese rub that contains herbs and spices for flavor and olive oil and red wine vinegar to turn the mixture into a thick paste. Use this rub on any grilled meat to add great Italian flavor.

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients in a processor and pulse just until combined.  Pour into a nonreactive airtight container and refrigerate.

Marinades

Chicken or Steak Italian Marinade

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dry parsley
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Mix above ingredients. Use to marinate chicken or steak for up to 3 days in refrigerator.

Vegetable Marinade    

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cups chopped parsley

Directions:
Combine water, both vinegars, lemon juice, pepper, garlic and parsley in large saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, simmer 10 minutes.  Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature, cover and chill at least 2-3 hours. Drizzle over cooked vegetables.




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