Our Monday Night Tradition

on 30 November 2009

Per Whimsy's request, and owing to my own over-active sense of guilt, here is our new favorite Monday night activity.


Now, if we're e'er in Savannah, we love to go to Vinnies.  Hands down the best pizza in the South!  And maybe anywhere, we had pizza in New York that was good, but not as good as Vinnies.  But Vinnies, alas, it is an hour away and pizza is a great way for me to get veggies into my child without too much mess, so I make this once a week.

The thing about pizza is that you're really only limited by your imagination when it comes to toppings.  When we go to Vinnies, Chris likes to get italian sausage and pesto and I generally go for mushroom and feta cheese.  But when we lived in Durham and had no Vinnies, we went to Amantes and Amantes had some awesome topping combinations.  So the two that I make regularly are derived from both of these sources.

I've tweaked a recipe from Mark Bittman's book How to Cook Everything which I bought for Chris one year for Christmas and which he's never used but I've had great luck with it.  Everything I've made out of here has turned out, and the recipe's stand up to some personalization which is perfect for me.

(I had brilliant intentions of including pictures, and I did start to take some, but DUDE--it was slowing me down and I was tired and hungry and also trying to feed, bathe and put a small toddler to bed, so...not so much with the pictures, sorry!)

First, take 3 cups of bread flour.  (You can use all purpose flour, but I like the texture of bread flour best.)  (You can also substitute up to half of the flour with wheat flour, oat flour, barley flour, whatever flour floats your boat.)  Next you add 2 teaspoons of yeast, 2 teaspoons of coarse salt and I add 1 tablespoon of dried italian herbs.

Mix all of that together and then mix up your wet ingredients.  Take 1 cup of warm water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and I crush 3ish cloves of fresh garlic into this.

Add your wet ingredients to your dry and add more water if necessary.  (I almost always add more water.)

Then, turn your dough out onto a floured surface and add more flour if necessary and then knead it until it's soft and no longer sticky.

You should end up with a lovely ball of dough.  Set it in a relatively warm place to rise for an hour.

(It's never to early to think about toppings.  If I haven't done it already I take out a box of frozen spinach to thaw...I also start chopping some pepper...)

Once your dough is puffy (it takes about an hour in a warmish room, longer if you're like us and keep your house cold), I divide it in half.  You can make one big, thick crust pizza or 2 smaller thin crust pizzas, it's up to you.

Flour your work surface and roll out the crust.

Grease your pans!

Shift the crust onto the pans and preheat your oven (500 degrees).

Now you get to play!  I like to use pesto for one sauce and just whatever red sauce you happen to have on hand for the other (we buy classico and doctor it up, I like the chunks of tomato on pizza), so sauce them up!

(Just a word about pesto on pizza--dude, DO it.  It's SO good.  Full of flavor, and the olive oil makes the crust crispy and delightful.  I can't advocate this enough.  It's awesome with tomato and mozzerella, with feta cheese, with some kind of meat, with other green veggies, it's good with almost anything!)

Now, for my pesto pizza, I use soy breakfast sausage.  The herbiness in the faux sausage compliments the pesto in all kinds of awesome ways.  You can use regular pork sausage, italian sausage, chorizo or whatever.  And then top with mozerella.  This one was a really wet moz, so i didn't grate it, I just pulled it apart with my fingers.

For my veggie pizza.  I have borrowed heavy inspiration from Amante's Greek pizza for this one.  I use a red sauce, and then the spinach.

You want to press all of the water out of frozen spinach (you can use fresh but you should cook it first) and then I just pinch it and pull it apart and layer it onto my pizza.

After spinach I layer on the peppers.  You can use whatever color floats your boat.  I chop them small so that the Boy will eat them.

After that I add mushrooms and olives (I used canned for convenience's sake).

And finally the feta cheese.  I can eat feta cheese any time, any where.  I love it.  On salads, on pizza, on sandwiches, I care not.  It's always good.  But if you're not a fan, you can leave it off.

Finally top with your mozerella.  (For veggie pizzas, they need some help in the spice department.  The chopped pepper helps a bit, but I also sprinkle liberally with this pepper blend called Hot Shot! You can get it in your spice aisle, I think McCormick's makes it.)

Bake for 15 minutes at 500 degrees or until the desired color of brown-ness.  I think there's nothing quite so good as burned cheese so I tend to cook mine a while.

Cut and serve!  Enjoy!


Amy said...

I love the Monday night tradition. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Gina said...


Whimsy said...

let the pizza baking commence!!!