Homemade. Dinner. Fast. You don’t often see those three words standing so close together. But with a little preparation, it can be done–and done well. The trick is to keep what you need in your freezer.
It involves three main ingredients: pizza dough, grated cheese and sauce.
In the morning transfer them from freezer to refrigerator. Keep them all in the fridge for most of the day to thaw slowly. The dough came out a couple of hours before dinner to sit on the counter and finish thawing. I then removed the plastic wrap, set the dough on a plate and covered it with a clean tea towel to warm up and rise a bit.
The crust: I’ve been using this particular recipe for the past year. It makes a thin, extremely crispy crust that is absolutely delicious. Find the recipe on another really great blog, Dinner a Love Story. The only difference being that I substitute half the white flour with whole wheat. Works perfectly. I also am a fan of prepping the dough in my food processor. It’s quick and easy. The recipe makes enough for two crusts. Wrap each in plastic wrap and tuck them into a freezer bag.
Grated cheese: Freezing grated cheese destined for melting works well. I cut a pound of mozzarella into three equal pieces that would fit through the intake tube of my food processor. Freeze the cheese for about 20 to 30 minutes in advance for easier grating. Use the grating blade attachment.
The food processor will definitely save time, but hand grating works fine, especially if you have lots of eager helpers. I packed the cheese equally into three pint size freezer bags. One bag works for one lightly cheesy pizza, but use two bags if you like yours rich and gooey.
The sauce: If all you have is a large can of diced tomatoes (or a freezer full of frozen ones), you can whip up this pizza sauce in minutes with the addition of four more common ingredients. There is no cooking required! The recipe comes from cookbook author, Amanda Haas. It’s so easy your kids can make it while you prepare a green salad. Use some and freeze the rest. I prefer sturdy jars for freezing this sauce in.
Putting it all together: Simply spread the dough in a large, very thin rectangle on a heavily oiled (olive oil–it does great things to the crust) cookie sheet. Cover with sauce and sprinkle with grated cheese. I brush olive oil on any exposed crust, but I try to take the toppings as close to the edge as possible. I also drizzle some good quality olive oil over the top as well.
Bake at 500 degrees. Check after ten minutes. The edges should be brown and the cheese bubbly.
The result? Gourmet pizza at a fraction of the cost of take-out.
What pizza toppings do you prefer?