Thursday, February 7, 2013

pesto, prosciutto, roasted brussels sprouts, and sun-dried tomato pizza

Every time I walk through Trader Joe's, I pass by the pre-made pizza dough section. The pizza I like dream about has a crust that is crisp on the bottom but also chewy with just the right amount of bite. And let's face it, Paleo pizza crust-- most commonly made with almond flour, coconut flour, or cauliflower-- never quite measures up to that platform of gluten goodness.

Let it be known, for a well-made, well-balanced pizza, I will break all the Paleo rules. All I needed was a pizza that was worth the cheat-- a reliable recipe that I could over and over again trust to appease my pizza craving. And, for me, that all begins with the pizza dough. Alas, I've finally found the greatest pizza dough recipe that must be shared. In the past, I've made good pizza. But it wasn't until the other day that I realized I could make an incredible homemade pie.

Basic Pizza Dough
Recipe by Annie's Eats
Yield 2 medium pizzas or 4 calzones

1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup water, at room temp.
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast over the top. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour and salt, mixing briefly to blend. Measure the room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture as well as the olive oil. Mix until a cohesive dough is formed. Switch to the dough hook. Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Press down the dough to deflate it. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball. (If freezing the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at this point.) Cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no longer than 30 minutes.

To bake, preheat the oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees F for at least 30 minutes. Transfer the dough to your shaping surface, lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Shape the dough with lightly floured hands. Brush the outer edge lightly with olive oil. Top as desired. Bake until the crust is golden brown, and cheese is bubbling, 8-12 minutes.

It's been about 24 weeks since I started Paleo. I'm not consistently on a strict Paleo diet these days, but now I do try to make better food decisions. Everyone who begins Paleo has a reason and a specific goal in mind. My intention was not necessarily to lose weight (though, that seemed to happen naturally), but to challenge myself and to become more conscious of what I put into my body.

One of the biggest changes was realizing that I didn't need to top everything off with cheese. I literally used to have 5 different types of cheese stocked in my refrigerator at all times. There always seemed to be a cheese that made every meal just a tad bit better. But because I no longer have any cheese readily available in my fridge, I made a delightful pizza sans cheese. Give this topping combination a try.

Pesto, Prosciutto, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza
Yields 1 medium pizza

1/2 of the Basic Pizza Dough Recipe
1/4 cup pesto (I just used my favorite store bought pesto to make things easier)
1 1/2 cups of roasted brussels sprouts (See how I roast my brussels sprouts here. Do not glaze.)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
2 to 4oz. prosciutto

*NOTES: These measurements are about what I used for my pizza. Use more or less depending on the diameter of your pizza crust.

1. Prepare pizza dough. Follow the directions of Basic Pizza Dough Recipe.
2. Prepare roasted brussels sprouts. This can be done ahead of time or while the dough is rising.
3. Form pizza crust. Use only half of the Basic Pizza Dough Recipe and continue to shape and prepare as instructed.
4. Assemble. Spread pesto onto uncooked pizza crust in an even layer. Slide pizza onto preheated pizza stone and bake for 8 minutes at 500 degrees F. Remove pizza stone from oven, Scatter prosciutto, brussels sprouts, and sun dried tomatoes on top of the crust. Then, place back into the over for about 4 more minutes.
5. When the outer crust is golden, pizza is ready. Remove from oven, slide pizza onto cutting board. Slice and serve.

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