My go to “I don’t know what to make for dinner” is always pizza. The kids love making their own which usually turns into a giant cheesy doughball mess but they have fun and always happily eat it. Pizza is so versatile so get inspired at the farmers market. ANYTHING can go on a pizza but I’m a big believer in less is more. Choose really fresh, great quality ingredients in simple combinations. One of my favorites is this buffalo mozzarella and fresh porcini mushroom with thyme, parsley, lemon & parmesan. Others are crushed San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and arugula, or spicy sausage & roasted rapini, or pancetta, potato & red onion….you get the idea.
I usually make my own crust with my sourdough starter but there are plenty of good recipes using active dry yeast (which I’m including here). Whole Foods or Trader Joes also sell pretty good fresh dough. A pizza stone is pretty much essential here and a pizza peel comes in very handy.
for the dough
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for kneading
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
for the pizza
- 1/2 pound fresh porcini mushrooms, cleaned & sliced into 1/8″ pieces
- 1 ball fresh buffalo mozzarella, about 8oz, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
- 2 Tablespoons good quality olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons grated parmesan
- sea salt to taste
Put the flour, yeast, salt and olive oil in a standing mixer with a dough hook. Turn the machine on and slowly add 1/2 cup water. Mix for a minute or so until the dough forms a slightly sticky ball. If it’s too dry, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until it comes together. Conversely, if it’s too wet, add 1 Tablespoon of flour at a time until it comes together. Once it does, let the mixer knead the dough for about 5 minutes.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and give it another couple kneads to shape it into a smooth ball. Put the dough into a bowl that you’ve greased with olive oil and turn it around so the dough is slicked with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 2 hours or until it doubles in size.
Reshape the dough into a ball and put on a lightly floured pizza peel, sprinkle with flour and cover with plastic wrap to rest for about 20 minutes. Then heat the oven to as hot as it will go, 500-550 degrees.
In the meantime, slice the porcini into 1/8″ slices. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat with the butter and cook mushrooms for a few minutes just until they start to brown and release their juices. Toss in thyme, a pinch of salt and chile flakes and remove from heat to cool.
Press the dough ball into a 1/2-inch-thick flat round, adding flour to the work surface as necessary. Then press or roll the dough until it’s as thin as you can make it. Let it rest for a minute then scatter on the cheese and a sprinkling of sea salt. Next, scatter on the porcini. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil all around and give it a little jiggle on the peel to make sure it will slide off nicely. If it feels like it’s sticking, carefully lift up an edge and throw a bit of flour underneath. Slide it onto the stone and bake until the crust is golden- dark brown in places and the cheese is nice and bubbly, about 5-10 minutes depending on how thin you made the crust. When it looks done I usually lift up an edge of the pizza to check the bottom is nice and brown too. There is nothing worse than underdone crust.
Slide the peel under the pizza to remove from the oven and if you have a wire cooling rack transfer the pizza to that for a minute while you put on the garnishes. (The cooling rack prevents any steam to build up under the pizza making the crust soggy). Finally, sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the parsley, lemon zest and parmesan over the top and dig in!