If there’s one thing that can truly bring people from all walks of life together, it’s pizza. Although our beautiful little town of Isla Vista comes equipped with three restaurants devoted to pizza, wouldn’t it be nice to spare yourself the bill and make a delicious pie yourself? After all, pizza just so happens to be made of three of the cheapest ingredients out there: bread, tomatoes and cheese!
Now, if you don’t consider yourself much of a genius in the kitchen, you can always opt for the Trader Joe’s pre-made pizza dough (I would recommend the garlic and herbs one, it’s amazing). But if you want the real Italian pizza experience, you’re going to have to put on your apron and get your hands a little dirty.
Making your own pizza crust is actually very simple! It only takes a bit of warm water, yeast, flour and salt!
1 cup warm (but not hot) water
Roughly 3 cups of flour (add more if needed)
1 packet yeast
1 tsp salt
Optional: 1 tsp sugar (will increase yeast activity)
Gently stir 1 packet of yeast (and sugar, if using) into warm water and let proof for 10 minutes (the mixture should look foamy when done). Add salt and flour, folding in with a wooden spoon. The dough should form a sticky ball that can still easily pull away from the bowl. Once the flour is incorporated, knead the dough for about 2 minutes and place in a bowl covered with a tea towel to rise. For best results, let the dough rise on the counter for an hour then move to the fridge overnight (if you don’t have the time, just let the dough rise for about an hour before using it).
This classic dough recipe will work for just about any pizza, but here are three delicious combinations to get you started!
Pizza dough (store bought or homemade)
Pizza sauce (Trader Joe’s brand is awesome)
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Place a pizza stone in oven and preheat to the highest setting; let the oven heat up for at least an hour. Stretch out pizza dough to desired thickness — I think it’s best when it’s stretched pretty thin, the crust gets beautifully crispy — and spread a light amount of sauce around the dough, leaving about an inch on the edges for the crust. Place a few torn pieces of mozzarella on top and throw in the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown, taking the pie out halfway to put the fresh basil on.
Spinach Artichoke Pizza
Fresh mozzarella or ricotta
Canned artichoke hearts
Place a pizza stone in oven and preheat to the highest setting and let the oven heat up for at least an hour. Stretch out pizza dough to desired thickness and spoon on sauce. Place some torn mozzarella, artichokes and spinach as desired, and bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Sauceless Garlic Pizza
Halved garlic cloves (however many you want)
Place a pizza stone in oven and preheat to the highest setting; let the oven heat up for at least an hour. While the oven is preheating, sauté a few halved garlic cloves in a bit of olive oil until they have a nice golden tint to them. Stretch out pizza dough to desired thickness and drizzle olive oil all over, as if it were sauce. Spread mozzarella across pizza and top with some spinach leaves and the sautéd garlic cloves. Bake for about 10 minutes.
**I would definitely recommend the margherita pizza over the others — it’s a classic. It’s always best to preheat a pizza stone (or cast iron skillet, pizza pan or regular cookie sheet) in the oven before throwing your pizza in, it helps get the bottom of the crust perfectly crispy. Also, if you’re looking for a fancy alternative to fresh mozzarella, I would highly recommend using burrata — it’s like a creamier version of mozzarella (who knew that was even possible?!). Alternatively, if you’re looking for a less lactose-heavy version of these pizzas, simply substitute the mozzarella for some feta!