If your family is anything like mine then you know where to get the best pizza in town. Of course, it’s got to be your very own homemade pizza; the pizza base, the sauce and the toppings, all made just the way you like it!
It was Sunday night and my husband and I were sitting on the kitchen floor sorting all the vegetables we harvested over the weekend. My god, the harvest had been nothing short of abundant. So, here’s what I say to the husband, “You know what, if we don’t plan our meals for the week, we are definitely going to see some of these precious vegetables go to rot. And we don’t want that.” To which my husband adds hurriedly, “We most definitely don’t want that.”
Then we better do some meal planning! So I run out and grab a note pad and start writing down the menu depending on the veggies we got sprawled in front of us. He suggests. I write. We go over it, agree, disagree, strike out and thus half an hour later, all I have on my notepad is strike marks. Another 15 minutes and umpteen suggestions later, we finally have something sort of a weekly menu.
All done; set for the week…Well, that’s what we think!
Morning comes and I walk in half-asleep into the kitchen, my head all muddled up wondering what am I going to cook today? I am rubbing my eyes when I spot the weekly menu stuck on my fridge door and boy am I glad to see it. I blindly grab the veggies needed for the menu and an hour goes off in a blur. Somehow terrorize the kids out of bed, pack lunches and wave each one goodbye.
I turn around and everywhere I look, I only see tomatoes and more tomatoes. You see along with the other veggies, tomatoes had been abundant this week too; country tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, as well as San Marzano ( a Mexican native variety) tomatoes. Well, I had to do something about it; so I spend a good part of my afternoon making Marinara sauce and South Indian style tomato chutney because can’t let my precious organic tomatoes go to waste.
Satisfied with the final outcome, I finish filling them up in two beautiful mason jars.
So far so good!
Here I am, thinking that I have everything sorted for dinner according to the menu we planned last night, when my daughter walks in after school. Spotting the Marinara sauce, she squeals in delight, “So, Homemade Pizza for dinner tonight!”
There goes the meal planning down the drain, that too on the very first day of making one. But to think of it, we do have a ball of mozzarella cheese in the fridge, and Marinara sauce is already here, so…pizza it is. Husband comes home in the evening and is pleasantly surprised by the change in the meal plan. Surprised Yes. Disappointed No!
Oh come on! Who wouldn’t want pizza for dinner? Would you stick to your meal plans if there is pizza to be had? Well, I am weak-hearted that way…so, to hell with meal planning. (don’t judge me now…I will get back to it tomorrow for sure) Now let’s get on with the Pizza, shall we?
Here’s my tried and tested recipe to prepare your very own, from-scratch pizza.
Maida/All purpose flour – 3 cups
Water (luke warm) – 1 ¼ cup
Olive oil/vegetable oil – 2 tbl sp
Sugar – 1 tbl sp
Salt – ¾ tsp
Yeast – 1 ¾ tsp
(I substitute whole wheat instead of maida most of the times but if you are a first-timer then do try this with maida first and then the other variations)
Using Bread maker:
I used my bread-maker to knead and rise the dough. If you are using a bread-maker, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions to add ingredients in the order specified. And the rest is taken care of by the bread maker. My pizza dough is ready for use in about an hour and a half.
- Add yeast to luke warm water and gently stir.
- Take the flour in a bowl and add all the dry ingredients and mix it well.
- Pour in water with yeast on to the flour mix and knead till it reaches a dough consistency.
- Add some oil to grease the dough and keep it covered in a warm place for about an hour to rise.
- Let the dough rise till it has reached double its original quantity.
While the pizza dough is rising, let’s get ready with the Pizza sauce/ Marinara sauce. (Mine’s all ready of course and here is how you can have it too)
The difference between pizza sauce and marinara sauce is just that pizza sauce is thicker in consistency. I prepare the sauce fresh every time I make pizza. But sometimes when we have an abundant tomato harvest from our farm, like this time, I prepare a jar full and store it in the refrigerator for later use. This comes in handy any time I want to make pizza, pasta, bruschetta or need a dip for evening snacks.
Pizza Sauce / Marinara Sauce:
Tomatoes – 250 g (finely chopped)
Onions – ½ cup (finely chopped)
Garlic – 3 cloves (finely chopped)
Olive oil – 1 tbl sp
Sugar – ½ tsp
Salt – ½ tsp (to taste)
Fresh basil (chopped) – 1 tbl sp
Fresh parsley – 1 tsp
Oregano (dried) – ½ tsp
Paprika/red chilli flakes – ½ tsp
Pepper powder – ½ tsp
(You can use dried basil and parsley too)
- Heat one tbl sp olive oil in a pan, add garlic and stir.
- Add finely chopped onions to it and sauté till translucent. Take time to cook the onions in medium heat to develop some deep flavours.
- Add finely chopped tomatoes to it.
- Stir in the herbs, spices and salt.
- Cook on medium to low heat for about 45 minutes. (Yes, time is the key factor to a great tasting sauce)
- Keep stirring occasionally and cover the pan towards the end as it may start splattering while it thickens.
- When the sauce reaches a spreading consistency, remove from heat and cool it.
- Blend the mixture in a food processor or mixer for smoother consistency.
- If you like it chunky, you can skip the last step.
- Pizza sauce is now ready.
The timing is an important factor as I mentioned above to get the slow cooked, long-simmered flavour of marinara sauce. So don’t hurry your sauce and cook it on low to medium heat for about 45 minutes to an hour to get the intense flavours of a slow cooked sauce.
If you ever want to make a sauce that’s versatile enough for your pizzas, pastas and lasagna, then this is it! Meet the sauce of your dreams! I love experimenting and making new dishes but when I find something that works well, I stick to it. So, this is my go to sauce with all my favourite flavours infused in it. Go ahead and make minor variations according to your taste and make it your own.
You can make it in a slightly larger batch and store it for a week or two. There are no preservatives and therefore I can’t guarantee more days. If in doubt, you can freeze it but I always recommend making it fresh unless of course, you are stuck with too much of wonderful organic produce like me.
So let’s assemble our pizza.
- Divide the pizza dough into 4 equal halves
- Take a round baking tray and dust it with cornmeal (optional but this really helps get a beautiful crust, otherwise just grease the pan with oil)
- Take a ball of dough and roll it or spread it to about 7 to 8 inches rounds with your fingers (grease you fingers with olive oil to get a smooth finish)
- Place the rolled out discs on the baking tray.
- Apply a little olive oil on the surface of the pizza dough to avoid the sauce from making it soggy. (this is a trick that really helps get a non-soggy pizza)
- Over this, add your marinara/pizza sauce and spread it evenly.
- Add shredded mozzarella cheese over the sauce.
- Now, add your favourite toppings.
- Bake at 220 degree Celsius for 10 min or till the crust is golden and the cheese melts.
- Voila, your pizza is ready.
This recipe makes 4 such pizzas, enough for a family of four.
And don’t forget to leave a comment. I hope you try this and let me know how you liked it.