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!
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.