How to/ Basics,  Main Course,  Recipes

Cooking Your Own Fast Food; Pizza with Fresh Sausage, Mushrooms and Olives

In his book Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, Michael Pollan says “Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.” His theory is if you have to make the french fries yourself, you are less likely to eat them as often as you would if you got them from the drive-thru window.

This rule resonates with me on many levels. People tend to say they “don’t have time to cook.” I think that may be true sometimes, but nowhere near as often as people use it as an excuse to eat poorly. With a little preparation and planning, so many healthy meals can be cooked and on the table in less than half an hour. For example, this pizza can be made in the time it takes to have one delivered. Pizza dough can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Some stores, like Trader Joe’s, even sell pre-made fresh dough, though I encourage you to make your own.

Pollan’s idea also works because if you make it yourself, you can control the quality and freshness of the ingredients. You can use a better quality cheese than you would get from a delivery pizza, a better tomato sauce (one not loaded with preservatives and sugar), better quality meats, organic vegetables, or even vegetables from your own garden. The point is, you are in control. While I made my own dough, I used a jar of tomato sauce and canned olives because that’s what I had available to me at the time. On the other hand, the fresh pork sausage was made from scratch because we had some leftover from our porkastic sausage making weekend and I used fresh mozzarella instead of the hard rubbery stuff. My point is, it’s up to you but you can eat well and inexpensively by making your own “fast” food.

I have two pizza dough recipes I like and use frequently. The first, below, is one I’ve used for over 20 years. The other I like is from the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. That one is a great recipe if you are cooking for a crowd (it makes enough dough for 4 small or 2 large pizzas) or if you think you will eat pizza more than once in 2 weeks (the batch of dough will last that long). I’ve made it frequently as well.

Here is my advice; if you like pizza, try making your own from scratch. Make a batch of dough for that night (if you have time) or for later in the week (when you know you won’t have time). Crank up the oven, roll out the dough, slap on your favorite toppings, and in less than 20 minutes, you’ll have a bubbling hot pizza and you won’t even have to tip the driver (but everyone should kiss the cook!).

Leave a comment and tell me if you make “fast food” at home and what it is; Do you make pizza? Burgers and Fries? Have a Taco night? Let me know!

Sausage Pizza with Mushrooms and Olives

Making your own "fast food"
Prep Time1 hour 10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time1 hour 25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Pizza
Servings: 4 Servings


For the Pizza

  • 1 each basic pizza dough see recipe below
  • 6 oz fresh mushrooms sliced and sauteed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 6 oz fresh mozzarella
  • 5 oz fresh sausage
  • 8 oz marinara/tomato sauce for pizza
  • 3 oz olives

Basic Pizza Dough *enough to fit a 16" pizza pan)

  • 8 oz water
  • 1 package dry yeast 2.25 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cups flour


To make the pizza dough

  • Put 8 oz warm water in a bowl and sprinkle yeast on top.  Stir in salt, sugar, and olive oil. Stir in 2 cups of the flour to combine and then another 1/2 cup until the dough comes together and becomes elastic. Put the other 1/2 cup flour on a board and knead the ball of dough for about 5 min until it becomes smooth.
  • Put the ball of dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Leave in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour. When the dough has doubled, punch in down and knead it lightly on a floured surface. Roll, or stretch and pull the dough to fit a pizza pan or baking stone.
  • TIP: If the dough is too elastic to cover the pan and keeps springing back, stretch it out and let it rest. Stretch it again, and rest until it relaxes enough to cover the pan.

To make the Pizza:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Saute the mushrooms in the olive oil, add the garlic in the last 2 minutes of cooking the mushrooms.
  • Stretch the dough over the pizza pan (see tips above). Spread the sauce evenly to about 1 inch from the edge and top with sliced mushrooms, sausage and olives, or your favorite toppings.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes or until done to your liking.


*Note; I sauteed the mushrooms because I like their texture better when they are cooked before going on the pizza. Conversely, I did not cook the sausage, but if you want to cook it first (to cook off some of the fat), you certainly can.
If you want to refrigerate the dough, do it after the first rise. Punch it down, knead it into a ball and then wrap it tightly in plastic or a plastic bag (it may rise a little again in the refrigerator). When you want to use it, take it out and let it warm up a little before putting it on the pan.


  • Vivian

    Love home made pizza! To me it is way better then anything I could ever get at Pizza Hut or any chain pizza joint for that matter. Yours looks amazing and the recipe you use is very similar to mine. I guess its time for me to dust off my peel and put it to some good use 🙂

  • Elvia

    Say it is too elastic-y and you have to stretch it out and let it rest again–how long should you let it rest that time?

    I am doing this THIS week–my girls will LOVE helping…..Thanks!

    • formerchef

      Just let it rest a few minutes, like 5, and then try stretching it again. Sometimes I have to do this a couple of times to get the dough stretched to where I want it.

  • artoeat

    I make dough about once a month portion it into 5oz bags and freeze it. I buy sausage cook it and freeze the rest. When Pizza Day rolls around I take out a dough bag/person, defrost, forage in the fridge for other toppings and I’m “good to go”.

  • Nancie (Ladyexpat)

    I love making homemade pizza, even though it has been a while. The oven I have here in Korea is not really what I would call a real oven. Hard to make pizza without one. Back in the days when I did make my own there was nothing I liked better.

    Your dough recipe is the one I always used.

    Lovely photos, too.

  • Myra

    Fast food and healthy food! I like to hide vegetables in the sauce I know my kids won’t eat, like zucchini. My dough is always thicker than I like — should I roll it out thinner? I’m afraid of making holes.

    • formerchef

      Good idea to hide the veg! 😉 Yes, try rolling the dough thinner. If it tears, just smoosh (like that culinary term?) it back together. If you like the crust thin, go easy on the sauce so it doesn’t get soggy.

  • Natalie

    My husband and I served in the Peace Corps where we had to access to the American junk food that we all love so much. One night we made chili cheese fries, we had been craving them for weeks. We double fried our own potatoes and made chili with the things we could find that seamed like they should go in chili; ground beef, frijoles, onions, spices, the tiny peppers that grew on a tree outside our door and the bits of vegetables that we had around the house. They were the best chili cheese fries we have ever had!

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