If there was one food I couldn’t live without, it would be pizza. When I was younger I craved cheesy, gooey pizza. My favorite version was from a well-known pizza chain, and let’s just say it was far from healthy. These days I still crave pizza, but I have become a reformed pizza eater. Instead of gooey and cheesy, I want flavorful, crisp and fresh. The best way to get this type of pizza is to make it myself. I know it sounds like a lot of work, especially since there are so many places practically giving it away. But trust me, once you make your own, you’ll be hooked. Not only is it healthier, it’s delicious!
The easiest way to break into making your own pizza is to buy the pizza dough [don’t worry, later on in this blog I’ll show you how to make a simple (yes, I said simple!) whole-wheat pizza dough.] Most grocery stores sell pizza dough, but if you can’t find it, try calling your local pizza place. Many pizza restaurants make whole-wheat dough and are more than willing to sell it to you.
One of my favorite pizzas is this fresh, spring-inspired pizza loaded with arugula. Arugula, also known as rocket, is a peppery green high in vitamins A and K as well as the B-vitamin folic acid. It is incredibly light and refreshing when combined with fresh lemon zest and juice and makes a simple, yet sophisticated topping to pizza.
Food safety tip: Be safe! Always wash your lemon before you zest or juice it. This prevents the transfer of any pesky bacteria that could make you sick. A vegetable scrubbing brush is a great tool to use for scrubbing hard produce such as lemons.
Lemony Arugula Pizza Recipe
- 1 pound fresh whole wheat pizza doughs
- 4 cups arugula
- All-purpose flour, as needed for dusting
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 large clove or 2 small cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
- Crushed red pepper (optional and to taste)
- Remove pizza dough from the refrigerator and shape into a ball. Place dough in a bowl coated with non-stick cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel and rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Food safety tip: Don’t leave this out of the refrigerator for over 2 hours.
- Position the oven rack to the lowest setting. If you have a pizza stone, place it on the oven rack. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Tip: Let the oven preheat for at least 30-45 minutes before cooking.
- While dough is resting, prepare the arugula by rinsing it thoroughly under cold water, then use a salad spinner to drain. If you don’t have a salad spinner, fill a bowl with clean cold water, add the arugula and swish it around. Drain the water and repeat a few more times. Pat dry with clean paper towels. Keep the cleaned arugula in the refrigerator until use.
- Lightly flour a clean work surface. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on the floured surface. Shape it with your hands into a disk and then working from the center, pull the dough outward, spreading the dough into a larger disk. Pick up the dough and continue pulling it along the outside edge until you have achieved a 12-14” circle. Place the dough on an inverted parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Note: You can use a rolling pin to achieve similar results.
- Brush the first amount of olive oil over the entire crust then rub with minced garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until crust is crisp.
- While the pizza bakes, make the dressing for the arugula. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the remaining olive oil, lemon zest and juice. Add the arugula and the Parmesan shavings to the bowl and toss with the dressing.
- Remove the pizza from the oven and top with the arugula mixture. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper, if desired. Slice and serve immediately.