Although I don’t ration food, I do try to make efforts toward food-related sustainability. I cook at home, bring food and drinks with me when possible, try to use very little plastic, try to buy food as lightly packaged as possible, etc. One major way of keeping the faith in this manner is my weekly pizza night!
When you make your own pizza, the first obvious thing is — no giant not recyclable pizza box! You also get to control your ingredients. I’m not sure about where you live, but I know for a fact that my local pizza joints do not use organic veggies and sauce, high quality cheese, and the like. Making your own pizza will also save you money. I usually use the ends of various cheeses, a bit of sauce I saved from another dinner, a quarter of a pepper or half an onion from other meals, which not only eliminates food waste, but makes your pizzas cost pennies. The most important part? It’s SO DELICIOUS. Better than anything I can order (except maybe that pizza I had in Rome — but!).
So first — the dough. I use one of two recipes depending on what I’d like my final result to be. We love thin crust pizza the most, so I often use Frugal Girl’s Thin Crust Pizza recipe. I’m at the point where I have it memorized and can put it together in a snap! I use olive oil in it, and made it for years with AP flour, but now that I’ve really gotten into breadmaking, I use a cup of Italian 00 flour, 3/4 cup AP flour, and 1/4 c semolina. But — if you’re just getting started, use the AP flour and don’t worry!
I also have to praise SAF instant yeast. It’s wonderful and reliable. I buy a big bag, put it in a container in my freezer, and use over a year or two! Easy and less wasteful than all those little packets. If you decide you are going to take over the bread baking for your household, it’s the best you can get in my opinion. I do have a pizza stone and a peel, but you don’t need them right away if you use a cookie sheet. I do think the pizza stone makes a great difference and is a good investment, especially if you’d like to make other crusty breads.
If we want Sicilian style or even Chicago style or “regular” pizza, I use King Arthur’s recipe. Also, this one is great if you are short on time (that is, if you decide you would like pizza 3 hours before dinner rather than the night before!).
As far as toppings go — get creative! I usually make one red and one white. I save left over tomato sauce in little half cup containers (that’s all you need for one pizza) and freeze it for when I make pizza. Any bit or bob of cheese is good. Last night I used the last bit of some Gouda on a mushroom and onion pizza — divine. I rarely use mozzarella unless I have it around. Home made ricotta on a pizza, especially if you have greens on it, is eyes roll back in your head delicious. If you try to avoid fast food but still crave the taste of the Golden Arches sometimes, make this cheeseburger pizza from King Arthur. It is one of our favorite treats (with grass fed beef, good cheddar, lettuce from our garden, etc).
One of my most fun dinner party ideas is to make a ball of dough for each guest and provide drinks, appetizers, and dessert. Ask each guest to bring topings for their ideal pizza. Then, you put them to work! Show them how to roll out the dough and top the pizza. I put the pizzas in the oven and take them out, one by one. If you have 8 guests or under, you’ll all get to enjoy a piece of each person’s creation. So much chatting and laughter! I’ve also found most guests ask for the dough recipe, so you may create budding pizza makers at your party.
Perhaps the nicest thing is that home made pizza goes beautifully with a bottle of wine. I feel good about spending more on a special, small vinyard bottle when I’m making my own pizza. Buon Appetito!