Making a good pizza is easy and requires ingredients you already may have in your pantry or refrigerator. The only necessary kitchen tools are a standard oven and something to bake it on. A pizza stone is a wise investment to achieve a completely crisp crust, but a baking sheet will work fine. Here are some quick tips to make a perfect pizza at home:
1. Start with store-bought dough.
Cooking from scratch and making homemade dough is rewarding and not very difficult, but it can be time-consuming and messy. Besides, dough is just the canvas on which to create pizza art. Store-bought fresh dough does the trick and is often available in the deli section. Your favorite pizzeria may even sell raw dough balls — just ask.
2. Let the dough sit out for a bit.
Too-cold dough is very elastic and hard to roll out. Remove it from the refrigerator about one hour before you plan to roll it.
3. Preheat your pizza stone in the oven.
A hot stone cooks dough from the bottom, while the rest of the oven cooks the more delicate (and easier-to-burn) toppings. Preheat the oven with your pizza stone inside for at least one hour before you plan to cook a pizza.
4. Roll dough on aluminum foil covered in nonstick spray.
When rolling dough and assembling pizza, cover your countertop or flat surface with aluminum foil misted with nonstick cooking spray. Use a pizza peel (or any flat tool — an upside-down baking sheet works) to transfer the raw pizza on foil to your hot stone. Aluminum foil conducts heat from the stone to the pizza. After about five minutes, open the oven and gently slide the foil out, using a spatula if needed. Let the pizza finish cooking directly on top of the stone.
5. Use a pastry roller instead of a rolling pin.
A pastry roller gives you more control over shaping the dough and allows you to push the dough from the middle, where it should be thinner, to the edges to create a thicker crust.
6. Sprinkle toppings evenly, but pay more attention to the edges.
As the pizza cooks, the toppings will “swim” toward the center. The center also takes the longest to cook, so avoid making it too heavy.
7. Brush the edges of the crust with olive oil.
It makes the crust crisp and delicious.
8. Never use soap on your pizza stone.
Actually, try not to wash it at all. Just scrape off any food remnants and store it to use on another day. Water — and especially soap — can cause it to crack.
As they say in Italian, buon appetito!
Elana Natker, MS, RD, is a nutrition communications consultant in the Washington, D.C., area. She is a Stone Soup blogger and author of enlightennutrition.com.
Healthy Kitchen Hacks
Try these tips to perk up pizza leftovers.
Use a Skillet. To avoid soggy dough and recreate that melty cheese topping, place a skillet or cast iron pan on the stove over medium heat. Brush with a teaspoon of oil and, once heated, lay a pizza slice cheese-side down on the pan. Heat for two to
three minutes and then flip. Heat for two more minutes or until the crust and cheese is to your liking.
Grab Your Waffle Iron. Fold a pizza slice in half and place on a heated, oiled waffle iron. Close and heat for five to six minutes. Remove from iron, cut into strips and serve with tomato sauce for dipping.
Load Up With Extra Veggies. When reheating in the skillet, layer sauteed mushrooms, sliced tomatoes or diced onions on pizza after flipping the slice to be cheese-side up. When making a pizza waffle, add spinach, roasted red peppers or sliced olives before folding slice in half and placing in the iron.
Sprinkle On the Umami. Toss ½ teaspoon nutritional yeast over each slice after flipping in the skillet or before folding for the waffle iron method to add extra nutrients and a punch of savory flavor.
Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD, and Serena Ball, MS, RD, are moms and food-loving dietitians who share family recipes, healthy kitchen hacks and nutrition adventures at teaspoonofspice.com.