Get Creative With Pizza

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My personal pizza.

Everyone should make pizza for dinner at least once. Most of us love the Italian treat but it could be so much more enjoyable (and healthier in some cases) than ordering delivery. Making your own pizza will get you intimate with the food making process and have your imagination stirring. I’ve composed a list of tips to get your through your artistic phase of pizza making.

Make Your Own Crust vs. Pre-Made Pizza Crust Mix
I originally was against making my own pizza crust. The first time I made a pizza the crust was doughy and dense. I had over-kneaded it and missed out on some key ingredients. However once I found a reliable pizza crust recipe I became comfortable with the from scratch method. As for which method I prefer, I would say pre-made crust mix. The directions are easier to follow and there is not a lot of guessing on how much to knead.

While making my dough, I usually add herbs like fresh rosemary or thyme. You will have to add a lot to taste it in the crust but it is well worth the yummy surprise when you cut a slice.

Tomato Sauce
Anyone who knows me is well aware of how serious I take my tomato sauces. I really like bold, thick, hearty tomato sauces that are just a tad sweet. Go to the store and pick a quality tomato sauce. Classico and Bertolli have great tomato sauce choices. Add sautéed tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes to the your simmering sauce. Red onions, sliced Shitake mushrooms, artichoke hearts, minced garlic and Parmesan cheese are some choice ingredients to add as well. Invest in some fresh herbs like rosemary, basil. thyme, oregano, and sage for a truly gourmet pie. A little bit of sugar or ketchup will turn down the savoriness of your sauce if you are into the sweeter side of things. Do not rush the cooking process of the sauce either. Oftentimes we think faster is better, but not with food. Let your sauce simmer for at least 15 minutes as you prepare your other ingredients. Then please allow some time for the sauce to cool and thicken so it will not make your crust soggy.

Remix Your Pizza Sauce
Plain or flavored hummus, barbecue sauce, refried beans, alfredo sauce, and pesto are all delicious pizza sauces you can use. My favorite uncommon pizza sauce to use is a garlic hummus from Sabra. The fun thing about changing your sauce is that you can give your pizza an entirely different flow of flavor. On my hummus based pizzas I add arugula and olives to the toppings. For my refried beans base I use Mexican cheese.

Cheese and Toppings Galore
Cheese is important. If you are looking for a smokey cheese to accompany your barbecue pizza I would opt for the gruyere. Mozzarella melts thickly and isn’t too powerful on the palate. Sharp cheddar and blue cheese are optimal for those of us interested in something with a bit more bite. And Mediterranean styled pizzas would really benefit from feta cheese. Knowing your cheeses means knowing how their flavors and textures will affect your pizza. I personally would never use Parmesan cheese as the only cheese for my pizza because the flavor is a bit harsh when overdone. I would also pair blue cheese with something mild like mozzarella.

Sliced pears, apples, and pineapples are sweet additions to your pizza pie depending on the base. I imagine pears and alfredo cheese would not pair well together. Do not skimp on the veggies, yet know when enough is enough. Traditional toppings like mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, and olives are best when sliced lengthwise to me. Sometimes pizzas end up looking like a vegetable purée when the toppings are sliced too small. Plus is isn’t always aesthetically pleasing. Adding an egg to the pizza during the last five minutes of cooking is another way to improve your topping display. On a Mexican styled pizza add a nice spicy salsa. For your Mediterranean pizza coat the toppings with fresh arugula and drizzle with olive oil after you take it out of the oven.

Post your personal pizza tips below! Happy cooking!

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My friend’s personal pizza.

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