Pizza is so versatile. You can dress it up with a fancy salad and white wine out on the patio or dress it down with beer in front of the television. You can weigh it down with cheese and pepperoni or pile it high with crunchy veggies. You can mix and match sauces and toppings to your tongue’s content.
Although I love a greasy, sloppy slice as much as the next chick, my favorite pizzas, like my favorite websites, are simple and elegant. This pizza is just that, made with spicy, salty, sexy puttanesca sauce. Add slices of motz, and wilted arugula and you’re in business – the oldest one in the book.
I usually make homemade dough. Pizza dough is not difficult, if you have the foresight to do this a few hours ahead so that it has time to rise. The recipe I use is based on the recipe Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, only I replace a cup of the white flour with a cup of whole wheat flour.
For the dough:
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 packet of active dry yeast (I used rapid rise even though it says not to, but this is fine)
2 tbsp olive oil (and more for drizzling)
1 c whole wheat flour
up to 2 c all purpose flour*
1 tsp salt
*note: if you live in North Carolina or a place with similar atmospheric conditions, it’s my experience that you’ll usually need less flour than is listed in dough and bread recipes or your dough will end up heavy and dry. Start with 1 cup and add as needed – it will probably be about 1 1/2 total.
Proof your yeast in the warm water and sugar for about 10 minutes. It should bubble up and smell nice. Whisk together your dry ingredients. Combine everything and knead into a dough.
Knead your dough on a floured board or counter for about 10 minutes until it’s a nice elastic ball. It may start out a little sticky, but you can add flour a little at a time until it’s the right consistency. Roll into a tight ball, and place in a lightly greased bowl to rise in a warm place for an hour or so. After an hour, punch it down and knead for a few minutes. Let it rise a second time for at least 10 minutes, better if you can leave it for an hour or two. When you’re ready to make your pizza, cut the dough in two and roll into 12 inch rounds. (Or use half of your dough for breadsticks!)
For the puttanesca sauce
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
pinch red pepper flakes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup mixed olives, soaked if necessary, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon capers, rough chop
handful herbs like parsley or basil
Heat olive oil and add anchovies, stirring until they dissolve. Saute onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes until the onion is translucent (no salt, this will be salty enough!). Add tomatoes and a little water if necessary and simmer until they begin to break down. Stir in olives, capers, and herbs, and cook until the sauce is not watery.
For the pizza
dough & sauce (of course)
small bunch of arugula, lightly dressed with olive oil
Oil two pizza stones or baking sheet with olive oil and place your pizza doughs. Spread with sauce and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Bake at 500º (toasty!) for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and toss arugula on top which will wilt nicely.