Staples: onion, AP flour, salt, olive oil, yeast
Pizza is my all-time favorite food. My tastebuds would probably tell you that freshly-baked bread is number 1, but they wouldn't be giving you the whole story. You see, I have this paralyzing problem: I'm absolutely unable to do almost anything without first undertaking a thorough analysis of the possible outcomes. I guess I chose the right career path; although, about the only thing I can do without scrutiny is say inappropriate things... probably not great for a lawyer.
Anyway, to say that bread is my favorite food would be going with my gut, which isn't something I'm really inclined to do. No, pizza is more a rational choice. It's bread + cheese + different toppings, which can be healthy. So you see, in choosing to make pizza, I execute a fully-considered decision to eat a well-balanced meal. And pizza is always a good way to use up cheese, of which I happen to have a lot. Very logical.
It's difficult living inside this brain.
Obviously, because I love bread so much, the crust is really important. Store bought crusts are great, but I think it's fun to make your own. I usually make Mark Bittman's basic pizza crust. Very good but, as he warns, adding whole wheat flour makes it kind of dense and tough. So I got the idea to sift the flour and, wow, what a difference. Light and crispy and airy. The perfect palette for my "healthy" dinner.
Best Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
Makes 2 small pies (each serves 2-3)
2 cups AP flour (plus more as needed)
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp olive oil
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup cool water (plus more as needed)
2 tsp kosher salt
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl and let sit until foaming, 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, sift flours into a separate bowl (discard whole wheat dregs). When yeast is foaming, add flours, salt, cool water, and 2tbsp of olive oil. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined, adding water or flour as needed to bring dough together into a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes. Place in a bowl greased with remaining tbsp of oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot. Let rise until doubled, about 1.5-2 hours (the longer the better, but put in the fridge if it's going to be more than 3 hours).
When it's doubled, split the dough ball into two pieces on a lightly floured surface. If you only need one small pie, the other ball can be frozen at this point. Cover remaining dough ball with plastic wrap or a towel and let rest until slightly puffed, about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees (place a pizza stone on the bottom rack if you have one). Press the dough out to about 1/4 inch with your hands, letting it rest periodically so it doesn't tear or snap back into place to quickly. Top and slide onto pizza stone using a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet, or place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
Acorn squash and caramelized onion pizza
1/2 recipe best whole wheat pizza crust (above)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded asiago cheese
1 small acorn squash
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp butter
Roast acorn squash: Preheat oven to 400. Cut ends off squash, cut in half, scoop out seeds and threads, and slice into 1/2 inch pieces, leaving peel on. Toss with 2 tbsp olive oil on baking sheet. Roast until soft, about 20 minutes. Let cool and peel, using your hands or a small peeling knife.
Caramelize onions: While squash is cooking, heat remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 20-30 minutes.
Assemble pizza: Spread ricotta cheese in a thin layer on crust. Scatter caramelized onions over top, then sprinkle with 3/4 cup of the asiago. Top with squash slices and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Slide onto baking stone or lightly greased baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown, about 10-12 minutes.