Forget Valentine’s Day, one of my favorite holidays is upon us. Yes, February 9th is National Pizza Day, and it’s time to start preparing your pizza feast. Gather your friends, break out the wine and settle in for a night of gourmet pizza.
Now, the first thing to consider is the crust of course. Feel free to go store bought or homemade (see recipe below). If you are getting pre-made dough, I really like Trader Joe’s fresh dough! Pro tip: you can also go to your local pizzeria and ask to buy some dough. It’s usually around $2.50 or so for one ball of dough.
Classic Pizza Dough
3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon sugar
1 envelope instant dry yeast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups water, 110 degrees F
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons
Combine the bread flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and combine. While the mixer is running, add the water and 2 tablespoons of the oil and beat until the dough forms into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a solid ball. If the dough is too dry, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a smooth, firm ball.
Grease a large bowl with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil, add the dough, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm area to let it double in size, about 1 hour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cover each with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes.
Kale and Sausage Pizza
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch Lacinato kale, chopped
1 pound pizza dough
1 tablespoon olive oil 2 sausage links
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, flour, 2 tablespoons of the cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer, whisking, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat.
In a medium pot, cook the kale in salted boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the kale and finely chop.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Drizzle the oil on a baking sheet, then stretch the dough to fit the baking sheet. Spread the sauce evenly over the dough. Remove the sausage from the casings, discarding casings, then crumble the sausage over the pizza. Place handfuls of the kale evenly over the pizza. Bake pizza until the crust is crisp and golden and the sausage is browned, 15 to 18 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve.
Perfect Margherita Pizza
2 pounds pizza dough
One 14-ounce can peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced
32 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
Set a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 500°, allowing at least 45 minutes for the stone to heat. Pass the tomatoes through a food mill set over a medium bowl or pulse them in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Stir in the oregano and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
On a lightly floured surface, stretch one ball of dough into a 13-inch round; transfer to a floured pizza peel, adding flour where the dough sticks. Spread 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce over the dough to within 1 inch of the edge. Spread one-fourth of the cheese over the pizza and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with sea salt and pepper and slide the pizza onto the stone. Bake until the bottom is charred and the cheese is melted, about 8 minutes. Scatter one-fourth of the basil on top and let stand for 3 minutes before serving. Repeat with the remaining dough and toppings.
Gorgonzola, Fig and Pancetta Pizza
1 pound of pizza dough
1 cup canned peeled Italian tomatoes
Pinch of dried oregano, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
10 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 large plum tomato, very thinly sliced
4 ounces very thinly sliced pancetta
2 ounces Gorgonzola dolce
2 cups baby arugula
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
8 fresh figs (or dried), quartered
Preheat a pizza stone or baking sheet in a 450 degree oven. Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the canned tomatoes with the oregano; season with salt and pepper.
Stretch the dough out to 13 inches, then brush with olive oil until evenly coated. Transfer to the preheated stone or pan and top with tomato sauce, parsley, mozzarella, sliced tomato, pancetta and Gorgonzola. Cook for about 15 minutes or until evenly browned.
In a bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil and the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the figs and arugula over the pizza and serve.