Oh pizza. Without you my life would be empty. And it was. For nearly a decade I almost never had pizza on account of my allergy to gluten. As I explain in my book the allergy to gluten is very specific to certain types of grains, and if you’ve spent any time on this site you know how grateful I am for heirloom grains like spelt, einkorn, and kamut, which bring wonderful bready goodness into my life. Pizza is NOT hard to make at home, especially considering how much comfort it can bring into your life, and pizza made from the kinds of ingredients I advocate becomes a health-promoting therapy food, but remains every bit as indulgent and coma-inducing as pizza should be, with none of the stomachaches or other health problems that come with commonly available pizza. Red sauce provides a concentrated source of potassium, pesto and dandelion pizza improves the expression of digestion enzymes, and white pizza with chicken provides lots of protein and promotes niacin and NAD synthesis in the body, and pizza is healthier than, say, pasta because the grains are somewhat predigested by the yeast and bacteria from the rising process, making them easier to digest along with added vitamins and enzymes. You can buy your own sauce instead of making it from scratch, just make sure they follow the guidelines I recommend to avoid those foods and ingredients which are allergenic and toxic to the human body, which are common in such pre-made products. If you want to make pizza the proper way you can buy a pizza stone and a proper pizza peel (the paddle), preheat the stone in the oven and use the peel to transfer the pizza in and out. I live in a sardine can of an apartment and don’t have room for these things, so I just use a cookie tray and parchment. Using a stone will make your crust a bit more crispy, but if you don’t have one it’s not a big deal. You will want to absolutely invest in a pizza cutter, though, which makes serving up pizza much easier than using a knife. The picture above is my dandelion greens pesto and goat cheese pizza below.
Start a dough as directed in my recipe for homemade spelt bread, using organic white spelt flour, but only using 3 cups flour and 1 cup water, and add 2 tablespoons of good olive oil or melted coconut oil. Einkorn also makes a great pizza crust, but Einkorn dislikes water even more than spelt, so if using einkorn flour add a bit extra flour until it’s a bit less sticky. Unlike making bread, pizza dough really only needs to rise once without all the folding, so after you’ve added the salt, knead it for a few minutes then leave it to rise and prepare the sauce and toppings and set them aside. When the dough has doubled in size, punch down to remove the air. Place a sheet of parchment over a cookie tray, lightly dust with flour, then using your hands form the dough into a ball then stretch the dough in the air until it resembles the shape you want (round, square, or rectangle—rectangles work best for home pizza because you can cook one large pizza all at once). Place the dough on the floured parchment cookie tray and use your hands to stretch the dough all the way to the edges, pushing a bit more dough on the perimeter and thinner in the center. Homemade pizza cooks best on the lower racks in the oven (so the top doesn’t cook faster than the bottom, which will happen if the pizza is placed high in the oven). After the dough is stretched it looses heat easily and is even more important that you keep it a warm spot.
TRADITIONAL RED SAUCE PIZZA
2 cans good tomato paste (12 oz total)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh oregano, diced (dried is fine)
1 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade
14-18 oz good mozzarella, shredded
other toppings such as sliced fresh tomatoes, good pepperoni, sausage, sliced or diced mushrooms, olives, green peppers, etc.
Preheat oven to 450˚ F (232˚ C). Prepare a red sauce by mixing the tomato paste, olive oil, salt, oregano, and basil. Set aside. Many people make pizza sauce using tomato sauce, but this has a lot of water in it and will make your dough soggy. Using paste and olive oil prevents this. Shred cheese and prepare other toppings. When dough is ready and shaped spread sauce over the pizza using a spatula or a pastry brush. Add toppings and then the cheese (putting the cheese last helps prevent toppings from burning and encapsulates everything in cheese). Let it rest in a warm spot for 15-30 minutes until the dough looks a bit risen again, then bake, until edges are nicely browned. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
DANDELION GREENS PESTO PIZZA
Bunch of dandelion greens (commonly available in the produce section)
Pesto as prepared from this recipe
1 large shallot, julienned
3 medium, high quality tomatoes, sliced thinly
10 oz good goat cheese
Preheat oven to 450˚ F (232˚ C). Prepare the pesto, but substitute some of the basil with 4-6 dandelion leaves, reserving the rest of the dandelion and basil for toppings. When the dough is ready and stretched spread pesto over the dough with a spatula or a pastry brush. Add sliced tomatoes with even spacing. Separate shallot rings with your fingers and sprinkle over pizza. Crumble goat cheese all over. Let it rest in a warm spot for 15-30 minutes until the dough looks a bit risen again, then bake, until edges are nicely browned. 2 minutes before it’s done baking add a handful of roughly chopped basil and dandelion leaves to the top of the pizza (so they are warmed and wilt just slightly). Remove from oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
CHICKEN PIZZA WITH WHITE SAUCE
Roast chicken meat (at least 1.5 cups), shredded
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons spelt or einkorn flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 tsp sea salt
3 oz finely grated parmesan
1 shallot, julienned (optional)
14-18 oz good mozzarella
While the dough rises, prepare a béchamel sauce—melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. When the bubbling has slowed, add the flour and whisk steadily for 4-5 minutes as the flour bubbles, careful not to brown the flour (turn down the heat if it’s bubbling too vigorously). Add the salt, then the milk in a steady stream as you whisk vigorously, then add the parmesan. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens, turn the heat to low and cook for 3-5 more minutes, whisking steadily, do not brown. Remove from heat. When the dough is ready, first spread a thin layer of olive oil over the dough using a pastry brush. This will help prevent the moisture from the sauce seeping into the dough. Then spread the white sauce to the edges using a ladle or a pastry brush. Layer shredded chicken evenly, add shallot if desired, top with mozzarella. Let it rest in a warm spot for 15-30 minutes until the dough looks a bit risen again, then bake, until edges are nicely browned. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.