I can’t even remember the last time we ordered a pizza – whether for delivery or carry out. We will occasionally do a take-and-bake from Sam’s Club if we are in the middle of huge project and there is no time to stop and cook something, but other than that, we tend to stick to our DIY pizzas and flatbreads when the pizza craving hits.
Pizza has become an America staple. Most of us love it in at least one of its many forms. One morning last week, Jon told me that someone wasted some of our tax dollars – 780,000 of them to be exact – in a research study to determine why pizza is addictive. Have they tasted it? It’s delicious and covered with cheese. Who needs research to determine why people keep coming back for more? This ranks right up there with the research study done several years ago to determine the most common color of navel lint. (No, I did NOT make that up!) At least some deserving college students received academic credits (and a lot of free pizza) for participating in this absurd study.
Last week, as a lead up to this month’s DIY Ristorante offering, I posted recipes for Pizza/Flatbread Dough and Homemade Pizza Sauce. I had hoped this post would follow a little more quickly, but our travel to San Francisco has kept me more than a little occupied over these last several days. No complaints, however. This place is really a lot of fun to visit.
Making your own pizza and/or flatbreads at home really can be accomplished in as little time as it takes to get delivery from a good pizzeria. If you make your own crust and/or sauce, of course, it takes a bit longer, but there are some totally acceptable, really delicious week-night shortcuts that can save you valuable time and get that pizza on the table in 45 minutes or less. It is also really easy for everyone to get exactly the pizza/flatbread they want if you divide the dough into individual pizzas or flatbreads and let everyone top his or her own with the toppings they desire. This is especially great with picky kids or when you’re entertaining friends with special diets or food allergies.
One of my favorite shortcuts is Walmart’s Great Value Pizza Crust Mix. It’s a favorite for 2 reasons. It tastes great and it’s inexpensive. It sells for just under $1 a package in Fairbanks and when we were in Texas last month I found it for about half that. Just add water and a bit of extra flour (I have never been able to get it to work well without adding AT LEAST an extra 2 T. of flour) and follow the package directions. Of course, there are some pre-made crusts as well, if you’re in a really big hurry, your kids are in charge of dinner, or you don’t want to deal with the mess of mixing and stretching the dough. They won’t taste as fresh, but the results are still tasty, and they come in thin and thick varieties. I have even seen gluten-free varieties for those with gluten sensitivities.
Another tasty shortcut is Classico Pizza Sauce. It makes a nice substitute for homemade sauce when you’re in a hurry and has no artificial junk in its list of ingredients, which is always a plus. Smear it on your prepared crust after the initial few minutes in the oven and top as usual. As always, be careful not to overindulge in the toppings if you actually want the crust to cook completely and not turn to a mushy, doughy mess.
Whether you choose to make your crust and/or sauce yourself or take some, or all of the short cuts I’ve suggested, why not give DIY pizza a try? I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed, and neither will your wallet!