Nothing says lovin like something from the oven and this classic Italian Pizza says it very well. Bright red rich tomato sauce, redolent with the scent of fennel seed, basil, and garlic serves as the base. Topped with sausage, spinach, onions, artichokes, and covered with creamy mozzarella cheese.
Use purchased pizza dough, or make your own.
Add one package of dry yeast to a cup of warm, but not hot water, with a pinch of sugar, let set about five minutes.
Sift, okay truth be told I never sift, but all the cookbooks say you should. I just measure and dump. Dump 3 level cups of white flour into a bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour. Add 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil and the yeasty water. Stir with a spoon until the dough becomes too stiff for the spoon. Then incorporate the rest of the flour using your hands.
Knead for 10 minutes. Kneading seems like a magic trick but it’s not. Pat the dough into a ball. Take the heel of your palm and press down on one side of the ball squishing it out the other side. Give the dough a quarter turn and push down with the palm of your hand and squish. Fold back the squished side into the ball. Give a quarter turn and continue. That’ s pretty much all you need to know. Time the kneading because it seems that 10 minutes takes forever. And you knead a well needed dough (that was a pun.)
Place dough in a bowl that has been wiped with olive oil. Take a good look at the size of the ball of dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size. That’s why you had to look at it, so you know it’s doubled.
When it’s doubled divide into two equal pieces. Roll out one piece the size of a 12 inch circle and place in a pan lightly rubbed with olive oil. A cookie sheet works as well as a pizza pan. Spread with tomato sauce then raw spinach, onions, red peppers, mushrooms, or whatever other veggies you like. Top with cooked Italian sausage, ground beef, ham, or other meats. Veggies can be raw but meats should be cooked. Top with cheese.
Do the same thing with the other piece of dough but vary the toppings if you like.
If you prefer a thin crispy crust bake immediately in an oven that has been preheated to 425 degrees. If you like a thicker crust, let the pizza rest in a warm place for about 30 minutes. The dough will rise again giving you a chewier crust.
Pizza should bake about 20 minutes. Gently lift up the pizza to see if the underside is golden brown. If it is your pizza is ready. If the underside is still pale but the toppings are beginning to brown too much, cover the top with foil.
There you have it. You don’t need anything else to make this a complete meal. Well okay – maybe a beer.