It's no secret that I love pizza. I'll eat it with just about every topping, even the controversial pineapple (if done correctly). My latest obsession is topping anything and everything with Calabrian peppers.
In college, my friend Shannon and I would go to a local restaurant, Craft and Vine, and ALWAYS order the spicy pizza. That is when I first discovered these tiny and delicious peppers with a kick. When I say I can snack on these, I am not exaggerating. They do pack a lot of spice into each tiny pepper, but it's a nice lingering heat (at least for those that love spicy foods).
I haven't gotten around to making the peppers myself, but I was so excited to find some at a little Italian shop at Ponce City Market in Atlanta, Georgia. I made it a point to not leave without bringing some home!
Now, for the pizza: My family and I are all about pizza nights. We'll make all types of pizza including meaty, Mediterranean, buffalo chicken, cheese or just a simple sausage topped with peppers. Today I was feeling a little less meat and a little more spice. I opted for a classic Margherita pizza with my favorite spicy kick, the Calabrian peppers. With my busy schedule, I love that this pizza is all about simple, fresh ingredients and not a lot of time. You can certainly use any type of pizza dough (fresh is preferred). I often switch it up between making my own and purchasing fresh dough at a local market when I'm in a time crunch. Next time you make pizza, try skipping the delivery and making "your own dough!"
3/4 cup of warm water
1 package of active dry yeast
2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large can of San Marzano tomato puree or sauce
3 cloves of garlic - chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Chili flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons of basil - chopped
Pinch of dried oregano
Salt and Pepper - to taste
8 oz of fresh mozzarella
Pizza sauce (see above ingredients)
Begin by making the dough (or using store bought fresh dough). Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let stand for about five minutes. Place the flour on a board and make a well. Add the remaining ingredients to the flour and mix well with your fingers. Knead to form a smooth ball of dough. Rub the dough with olive oil, place in a bowl and cover until doubled in size (about one hour). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough to desired size. I did a somewhat unconventional method to get a nice crisp to the dough. First, pre-bake the dough for 15 minutes in a greased pizza pan (until mostly cooked), I then transferred to the grill to get a subtle char (about 3 minutes).
Prepare the sauce while the pizza dough is rising. You can also make this ahead of time. Begin by sautéing the garlic and chili flakes on med-low heat in olive oil (about 1-2 minutes). Add the tomato puree and reduce the heat to low. Add the basil, oregano, salt, pepper and additional chili flakes if desired. Cook on low for 30-45 minutes.
Once the dough and sauce is prepared, begin to assemble the pizza. Start by adding the sauce on the dough after a quick char on the grill. I'm not much for a lot of sauce, so top until you get the desired amount, leaving 1/2 in. for the crust. Add the thinly sliced rounds of fresh mozzarella and cook for an additional 10 minutes in the oven. Remove the pizza and add the fresh basil leaves (about 7-10 leaves). If you like a little spice, top the pizza with the desired amount of Calabrian peppers.
Slice the pizza and enjoy!
Sometimes all you "knead" is a well "rounded" diet of pizza to celebrate the weekend.