Realistic and minimally processed are two of the main goals for our family’s meals. With a four- and six-year-old, pizza is a regular item on our menu. In fact, Max loves it so much he requests it for his school lunches. We make this healthy homemade pizza every Sunday. We eat it along side a big salad and rainbow colored fresh fruits and veggies.
Go with the dough
Family dynamics around food and eating can be all over the board (at least they are in our family). I treasure pizza night because everyone in my family loves helping to prepare dinner and also eating it. While it may not be broccoli slaw from a nutritional standpoint, it makes up for it from a mental health and feel good standpoint. And to me, that’s worth a lot.
We often do pizza parties when we have company for dinner. Everyone gets to make and customize their own pizza, and it’s a lot of fun. Plus it takes the pressure off of Jeremy and me balancing company with all the cooking responsibilities so we’re able to enjoy catching up with our friends and family more, too.
Healthy whole wheat pizza dough
There can be a stigma around the difficulty of making dough from scratch. But it’s so simple and is only five ingredients. I use Bob’s Red Mill organic ivory wheat flour. It is lighter than standard whole wheat flour. Generally I substitute this flour for any and all baking that I do. With the pizza dough, I’ve found that substituting one cup of all purpose flour helps the dough to rise a little better. You could certainly use all ivory wheat though.
- 1 1/2 C warm filtered water
- 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
- 1/4 (ish) C honey
- 2 3/4 C Ivory wheat flour
- 1 C all purpose flour
- 1 t sea salt
1. Add honey and yeast to warm water. Stir to create a slurry. Let this stand for a few minutes. The yeast can a jumpstart on their activity while you prep and make the rest of the dough.
2. Add flours and salt to your mixer’s bowl. Choose the dough hook or paddle attachment for the mixer. I wore out the dough hook on our mixer a while back and couldn’t find a replacement. I found out the paddle works just as well!
3. Add part of the water mixture to the flour and slowly start mixer. Running on low, gradually add more water until dough ball starts to form.
4. Create desired consistency. Mix and add water to the desired consistency of your dough ball. Not to dry and crumbly, not too wet and sticky. Add water in very small amounts towards the end, one tablespoon or a few drops at a time. If the dough gets too wet, add a little more flour.
5. Cover dough with a thin dish towel. Put in a warm place to proof. Some ovens have a bread proofing setting. Ours doesn’t, so I turn it on for a few minutes to gently heat up and then turn it off, put in the covered dough and let it proof for 3+ hours. If we’re eating pizza for dinner, I like to get the dough made before lunch to give it plenty of time.
A note about heat and dough: You need the dough to be in a warm enough place to keep the yeast rising. If it is too hot, the yeast will begin to cook and stop rising. I’ve placed it near the vent to our oven while cooking all day before and it got too hot. It’s a good idea to check on it mid-way to avoid surprises right at dinner time.
While scratch made dough does require a little extra thinking and attention, it’s worth it. I promise. If you have extra dough balls, simply dust with flour and toss in a zip top bag and in to the freezer.
Make it easy on yourself. Let the crew at Justa Pasta make your sauce from scratch for you. It is truly the not-so-secret ingredient in our pizza. On those sad Sundays when we realize we are out of sauce and have to buy some at the grocery store, it is not the same.
We use a combination of fresh mozzarella (Costco sells a two-pack) and organic shredded mozzarella from Trader Joe’s. By adding the shredded to the mix, it allows for a little more overall coverage. And the organic shredded mozzarella they sell at TJ is just flat out delish. Our kids eat it in their quesadillas and grilled cheese. It is a staple in our house. I’ll use goat cheese on a couple different combinations, and certainly offer it when we do “build your own” with company.
The sky is the limit to toppings. Some of our favorites include: kalamata olives, peperocini, thinly sliced onions, fresh basil, kale, dried fig. I do believe less is more, and you don’t want to overload your pizza or the outer edge of the crust will be over cooked and the middle soggy. Think more along the lines of simple Italian when making your pizza.
Our kids always do cheese with a healthy dose of raw fruits and veggies along side. One of their favorite things is to request shapes like T-rex or horse, or hearts. I often look at Jeremy around 4 p.m. on Sunday and say, how about simple tonight? That means we haven’t cut up any toppings yet. Here are some of our favorite combos in order of simple to complex:
- Margahrita: sauce and cheese. Add a healthy dose of fresh basil leaves to the last 3-4 minutes of cooking time.
- Kale: sauce and cheese. Add a healthy does of chopped up kale to the last 5 minutes of cooking time. I know what you’re thinking, but’s actually great.
- Standard veggie: sauce, cheese, whatever finely chopped veggies you like olives, peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc.
- Arugula, caramelized onion, fig and goat cheese: brush crust with olive oil. Add finely chopped dried fig, caramelized onion, goat cheese, a little shredded mozzarella. Cook until cheese starts to brown. Add fresh arugula to the pizza after you bring it out of the oven. Drizzle with olive oil or truffle oil and a pinch of sea salt. The one makes a great appetizer for pizza night or anytime.
- Pesto, potato, goat cheese and olive: Thinly slice a red potato or two. Toss with olive oil and sea salt. Spread on a pizza pan, place in oven while it pre-heats for the rest of the pizza. Bake until cooked through and a little crispy. Turn if needed. Remove when finished. Use homemade pesto in lieu of red sauce. Spread a thin layer of cooked potatoes on top of pesto. Sprinkle with sliced kalamata olives, goat cheese and little mozzarella cheese. If you happen to have onion or caramelized onion ready, it’s a nice addition too.
Make dough early in day. I like to have it made by lunchtime. Remove dough from proofing place (ours is the oven), turn to 450 – 500 degrees depending on the strength of your oven. Divide dough in to four balls. Flour the counter and rolling pin.
- Roll out the dough.
- Top the pizzas.
- Bake until bubbly and done to your liking. 10 minutes or so.
- Remove from oven.
- Transfer to a cutting board.
- Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Allow to rest on the cutting board for a couple minutes before cutting.
- Cut. Enjoy with your favorite salad.
It’s pizza. It’s going to be great. Relax and enjoy it. Don’t worry too much about having everything just right. Sometimes my dough is sweeter than other times because I approximate the honey. Sometimes it rises better than others due to factors beyond my control. It’s all good. It’s extra-additive-free pizza!
Hyatt family eats are occasional posts devoted to sharing some of the things our family is cooking. We believe in a whole-foods, minimally-processed approach to nutrition that is realistic for a busy family of four. We’d love to hear about what you’re eating too! Email us at Go@HyattTraining.com.