Many people have said that pizza makes everything better. I have to agree. Dough, cheese, and endless options for sauces and toppings make for a totally custom-able round of goodness that satisfies all of my food vices yet is extremely simple to make, if you do it right.
Along with simplicity of process, simplicity of ingredients is key for a great tasting pizza. You must use basic, fresh ingredients whenever possible so you can control the flavors. I was feeling like an omnivore, so Italian sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and pine nuts sounded like good, simple toppings.
I took a pretty big risk here by using store-bought marinara, but for the sake of time I thought I would try it out. I was very happy with how it turned out! There was no discernible taste difference or distracting added flavors that I could place. Just make sure you get a basic, organic one the is purely a red sauce that is really just a few steps beyond regular tomato sauce. Don’t go for “garlic and peppers” or “cabernet mushroom,” they won’t do us any favors here.
I love how this one turned out with the smoked mozzarella. I had never tried it before, but it went with the other flavors well, especially the Italian sausage. So good.
Tuscan Pizza with Hand-Tossed Dough and Spice Rubbed Crust
For the Tuscan pizza
- One recipe homemade dough, ready to bake
- 1/2 cup good store-bought marinara sauce, preferably fresh and organic
- 3 links mild Italian sausage, broken into small pieces
- 1/4 fresh basil, cut on the chiffonade (leaves rolled and sliced perpendicular and at a slight angle to the roll)
- 1 cup smoked fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, hydrated and sliced into thin strips
- salt and pepper
For the spiced crust
- 2 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
- pinch salt
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- pinch crushed red pepper flakes
To make the pizza
- Plan to prep the dough at least an hour before you want the pizza to go in the oven. Once you have prepped the dough, tossed it, and spread in on your pizza stone or baking sheet, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Brush olive oil about 1 1/2 inches inward from the outside of the dough round. Rub the oiled crust with oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt.
- Ladle the marinara sauce into the center of the pizza and coat outward until you can't see any crust through the sauce layer. Sprinkle the mozzarella over the top, letting some pieces fall onto the crust but mostly keeping it confined to the top of the sauce. Distribute the sun-dried tomatoes, sausage, and pine nuts evenly over the round.
- Bake the pizza in the middle of the oven for approximately 18 minutes, or until the underside of the dough has begun to turn golden brown, the crust has become hard, and the cheese has begun to brown.
- Remove from the oven, and sprinkle the basil over the pizza.
- Let cool 5 minutes before cutting and enjoying.
- Dough recipe and hand-tossed crust learned from friend and fellow kitchen junkie, Davis.
- Brushed crust with spices inspired by a technique from Hungry Howie’s Pizza in Tempe, AZ.
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