Our weeknights can get a bit chaotic here, like most people’s do. The nights my kids are with me I try to make sure dinner is cooked from scratch, although I do occasionally resort to Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken. But every Friday, with the occasional exception for tacos or take out, is pizza and a movie night here. I make pizza dough, which takes about 10 minutes to prep, and we pick something to watch.
The thing I like about pizza and a movie night is that it’s easy, and it’s a nice closeout to the week. Everyone knows what to expect that evening, there’s almost no thought involved. It’s relaxing. And for me, it’s one of those tiny traditions that I think my kids will grow up remembering.
About once a month we invite people over – last night I had one of my oldest friends, her daughter and a bunch of neighbor kids and their parents here. I may add in a little homemade guacamole, chips and some olives, but the basic formula doesn’t change when we have guests. More kinds of pizza maybe. More kid-friendly snacks. Last night I experimented with a Paleo pizza crust for me – it wasn’t good enough to recommend, but it was good enough to continue to tweak and search for recipes.
Homemade pizza doesn’t have to be hard. Dough can be made in advance and frozen. At most, it’s about 15 minutes of hands-on time to mix and knead the dough, and then rise time. I make enough for 2 large pizzas and I make a pizza and freeze the leftover dough for the following week. Toppings can be as simple as cheese and as complex as you want them to be. Grownups got pizza with caramelized onions, fresh basil and ricotta yesterday on both Paleo and standard crusts.
Basic Pizza Dough
3 cups flour*
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/3 cup warm water
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl except water. Add the water a little at a time until you have a dough-like consistency. Knead by hand for 10 minutes or with a dough hook on your mixer until the dough is smooth and elastic to the touch. Cover the bowl with a dishtowel and let sit in a warm place to rise for an hour.
The dough should triple in size. Slice it in half and spread out on an oiled baking sheet or pizza stone. Cover with sauce, cheese and toppings, and bake for 15-20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Let sit before slicing.
* I use about 2 1/2 cups of basic white flour and 1/2 cup of wheat or mixed flours to add a little bit of health to the dough, such as spelt or oat flour. I recommend not more than half a cup of non-white flour, or the dough gets too heavy.