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Triathlete and foodie Elana Iaciofano, a New Jersey native, was raised in an Italian home, has her own food blog (Johnandelana.com) and her own cookbook (Top Your Pizza). While never formally trained as a chef, she’s always experimenting with new pizza recipes, which she says can be surprisingly healthy if you make them yourself and load them up with veggies and lean meats. Here’s how to make two pizza recipes entirely from scratch.
Pizza Dough Recipe
1 envelope active dried yeast
1 ½ cups warm water – 100 degrees F
2 cups flour (all purpose, bread, or 00 flour)
2 cups whole wheat flour
¾ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pizza stone and pizza peel, semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
If you don’t have a peel or a pizza stone, you can also use a cookie sheet. If you are using a cookie sheet, it’s not necessary to use semolina flour or cornmeal. Just place your dough round directly onto the cookie sheet and add toppings.
In a medium mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of the warm water. Stir in ½ cup of the all-purpose flour. Cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let stand for 30 minutes to let the mixture bubble and rise. After the 30 minutes are up, pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer. You can mix by hand as well in a large bowl. Add the remaining ½ cup of warm water, salt and the olive oil to the food processor. Slowly begin to add the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time. The dough will start to hold together and form into a ball. When this happens, remove the dough from the bowl, and place on a floured countertop. Knead the dough until it is smooth. This may take about 10 minutes. Dust the dough lightly all over with flour and place in a large bowl, covered with a kitchen towel. Let it rise for 1 hour. After an hour, the dough will be doubled in size. Punch it down in the center and divide the dough into four or five equal parts. Form each part into a smooth ball and let them rise, covered, on a floured surface for 30 minutes.
Before you top your pizza, heat your oven to 500 degrees F. If you are using a pizza stone, place the stone in the oven and heat it up for at least 30 minutes prior to baking on it. When the time comes to top your pizza, begin by stretching out your ball of dough on a floured surface. Start in the middle of the dough, and press outward until you have a flat, round disc, about 10-12 inches in diameter. (Note: Neapolitan pizza is characterized by a thin crust with a slightly puffy outer crust, or “cornicone.” Feel free to stretch out your dough as much as you feel you can handle, but watch out for tears in the dough.) Take out your pizza peel and dust it with semolina flour or cornmeal. Place your stretched dough onto the dusted peel. Make sure that you can easily slide the dough around on the peel. Now you are ready for toppings!
Breakfast Pizza with Egg, Ricotta and Pesto
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
4 large eggs (2 per pizza)
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup fresh pesto (see recipe)
Extra virgin olive oil
Heat your pizza stone in your oven to 500 degrees for a half hour before you think about placing dough in there. Spread a layer of ricotta cheese on the stretched out dough and top the cheese with a thin layer of pesto. Crack 2 eggs over the top and season with salt and pepper and hot pepper flakes. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil. Slide the pizza directly from the peel onto the baking stone. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating after 5 minutes. When the crust is golden and the egg yolks are cooked, slide the peel under the crust and lift the pizza back onto the peel. Transfer the pizza onto a cutting board. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Let cool for 2 minutes, slice and serve immediately. Prepare the second pizza in the same way (makes two 10-inch pizzas).
1 large bunch of basil
2 cloves garlic
Extra Virgin olive oil (about 1/2 cup, but you might want to use more or less)
Grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup pine nuts (you can always leave these out if you can’t eat or don’t want nuts)
Place the basil in a food processor fitted with a metal blade along with the olive oil and all the garlic. Pulse to process finely. Add the pine nuts. Give it a few more twirls in the processor and check the consistency. Is it dry? If so, add more oil. Next, add the Parmesan cheese. Parmesan should be salty enough to season the pesto, but you can also add salt and pepper if you feel it’s necessary. Scoop the entire mixture into a bowl and drizzle a blanket of olive oil over the top. You can either serve immediately or you can stick it in the fridge and save it for later.
Heirloom Tomato and Mango Pizza with Basil and Mint
5-6 large heirloom tomatoes (more if you are using smaller varieties) You can use any kind you like, but I like to choose different colors and varieties, as it makes quite a pretty picture, and keeps the taste interesting.
1 mango, sliced
Fresh mozzarella cheese
4-5 leaves fresh basil, chopped
4-5 leaves fresh mint, chopped
Heat your pizza stone in your oven to 500 degrees for a half hour before you think about placing dough in there. Stretch out your pizza dough onto a pizza peel coated with semolina flour or cornmeal. Drizzle your dough with olive oil. Slice up your heirloom tomato varieties and place them on top of your oiled dough. You can add as many tomatoes as you like. Nestle some mango slices between the sliced tomatoes. Cut the fresh mozzarella into small cubes and distribute it evenly among the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake in the oven at 500 degrees for about 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and mint, and another healthy drizzle of olive oil. Note: For a dairy-free version, omit the mozzarella cheese and feast on tomato/mango pie.