Thursday, November 20, 2014

Build-Your-Own Pizza

Pizza is by far the dish we've made the most at Kids' Table over the past 7+ years. We love showing kids that pizza doesn't have to come from a restaurant or the freezer. There are so many benefits to making your own. You know exactly what's in it, you can make it just the way you like it, and it's fun!

This Build-Your-Own Pizza with a classic tomato sauce is a traditional favorite. Since most kids are very comfortable and familiar with cheese pizza, we can use it as a gateway to push boundaries a little bit with the veggie toppings. Having kids roll out and top their own pizza gives them a level of ownership over their food. Kids are more likely to eat something if they have a hand in making it! When we do Pizza Birthday Parties, we usually demonstrate topping the pizza by making a veggie smiley face. A much more effective way to get kids to eat their spinach than saying, "Eat your spinach."

We use half whole wheat flour in our dough, which not only adds a nutritional boost, but also a nice depth of flavor. To save time in the evening, you can make the dough in the morning, cover it and put it in the refrigerator. The slow fridge rise can sometimes make the finished product even better. Another time-saving tactic is to make a double batch, portion and freeze for another meal! Oh, and there's no shame in using store-bought dough if that's what you need to do to get dinner on the table. (This is a no-judgment zone.)

We hope your family gets as much mileage out of this recipe as we have. Enjoy…

Build-Your-Own Pizza

For Dough
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast (one small envelope)
1 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 cup plus 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 T olive oil
1 heaping tsp salt
Cornmeal or additional flour for rolling out

For Sauce
1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 small bay leaf
Pinch sugar

For Topping
8 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
Veggies (optional)
-sliced bell pepper
-sliced mushrooms
-shredded spinach

Combine yeast, warm water and sugar in your mixing bowl and whisk well. Let it sit until it begins to bubble (about 5 minutes). Add flours, olive oil and salt and stir until well combined. Add salt and olive oil and mix in with your hands. Turn dough out onto your work surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Dough will be a little sticky, but if it sticks to your hands too much, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. Return dough to mixing bowl, cover bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

While the dough is rising, make the sauce. Heat heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat and sauté garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Carefully add the tomato sauce (it may splatter) and seasonings. Simmer uncovered over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool and remove the bay leaf before using.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Punch down the dough and divide into six pieces. Lightly sprinkle your work surface with cornmeal or flour.  Roll each piece out into a 1/4 inch thick circle. Or let the kids roll out their own in whatever shape they want!  Fold edges of dough over to form a 1/2 inch crust. Use a fork to gently prick the dough so it doesn't puff up in the oven. Transfer crust to a nonstick baking sheet and bake until firm and lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes. Let cool 5-10 minutes before topping.

Spoon a little sauce onto crusts, spreading it thinly with the back of a spoon. Add more sauce if necessary. (You only need a thin layer. Too much sauce can make your pizza soggy.) Top each pizza with grated cheese and veggie toppings, if you want. Bake until cheese is bubbly and lightly browned, about 6-8 minutes.

Makes 6 Individual Pizzas

Photo courtesy of Matador Sharp

What kids can do (with appropriate tools and adult supervision)
*Measure and mix ingredients for dough and sauce
*Knead dough
*Mince garlic (for older kids, or for younger ones too with a cool tool like our wavy choppers)
*Grate cheese
*Prep toppings (chop peppers and mushrooms, tear or snip spinach)
*Roll out dough
*Top pizzas

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