I think it’s disheartening that when I Google “pizza” to see if I could come up with a few pieces of fun trivia for this post, the first two links that populated my screen were for Domino’s & Pizza Hut. Between the commercials for Domino’s Bread Bowl Pasta and Pizza Hut’s “P’Zone Eating Chow-lenge” it’s no wonder why pizza has a bad rap for being nutritionally inadequate. It’s also hard to accept such commercialized adaptations of pizza, a dish traced back to Italian origins as far back as 997, though it is said to have become mainstream in Naples in the 18th century. Back then, pizza was made from yeast bread dough and tomatoes, later to be topped with mozzarella cheese, basil and extra-virgin olive oil. Today, Domino’s Deep Dish crust is made from:
Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Folic Acid), Water, Malt, Sugar, Whey, Malted Barley Flour, Yeast, Soybean Oil. Zzesty Blend: Butter Flavored Oil (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Soy Lecithin, Artificial And Natural Butter Flavoring, Vitamin A Palmitate And Beta-Carotene for Color), Imitation Parmesan Cheese (Water, Modified Food Starch, Casein And Or Caseinate, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Cellulose Powder, Salt, Sodium Phosphates, Stabilizers [Mono And Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Carrageenan], Natural Flavor, Lactic Acid, Sorbic Acid [As A Preservative]), Onion And Garlic, Spices, Salt, Lactic Acid, Butter Flavor, Tomato Powder, Bell Pepper. Dextrose, Citric Acid, Extractive Of Paprika And Lemon And Orange Oil With No Greater Than 2% Calcium Silicate And/Or Soybean Oil Added to Prevent Caking, Corn Meal (used in preparation).
Now, I won’t pretend I didn’t have the number for the Domino’s Pizza in my town memorized when I was a freshman in college (come on, it was 374-5665, it doesn’t get much easier than that). There was a time when crust and cheese and sauce meant pizza. Now, however, now, I think of pizza as somewhat of an indulegence and if you’re going to indulge, my theory is, “go big or go home.” I make pizza dough using only six simple ingredients. Granted, not everyone has the time (or desire) to create their own pizza dough but it probably isn’t hard to find one without “butter flavor” and imitation parmesan cheese. If you do feel like whipping up your own crust, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day has an amazing dough recipe that can be replicated for focaccia, flatbread and other variations.
There are ways to alter pizza so that you can enjoy it without eating three days worth of calories in one sitting. I mean, you certainly can if you eat the entire pie, but if you’re like me and you just don’t have the bandwidth for eight slices, a slice or two of this pizza won’t set you back too much if you pair it with a big, green salad.
Spinach Ricotta Pizza with Olive Oil Dough
1/3 recipe Olive Oil Pizza Dough (or your favorite refrigerated pizza dough)
3/4 cup chunky marinara sauce (if you like a lot of sauce on your pizza, you can be liberal but more than 1 cup will leave your dough soggy)
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese 8 oz. (or 1/2 lb). part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated or torn into small pieces
2 cups uncooked spinach, sauteed until just barely wilted
1. Use your hands or dust a rolling pin with flour and gently shape dough into desired shape on a floured surface. Use flour as needed to shape dough so that it does not stick to surface.
2. Dust a pizza peel (you can attempt at using an oiled cookie sheet but I tried that and it was an EPIC FAIL. I highly recommend a pizza peel) with cornmeal, to prevent dough from sticking.
3. Use a spatula and slide the dough onto the pizza peel. Preheat oven (with baking stone) to 500F. Assemble the pizza with desired toppings – in this case, sauce, cheeses and spinach.
4. Use the peel to place the pizza on the pre-heated pizza stone. If you’re using an upside-down cookie sheet, the dough may be sticky and will require more than one par of hands to transfer to the hot baking stone.
5. Bake at 500F for approximately 15-20 minutes or until cheese begins to bubble and crust turns golden brown.
Tell me your favorite kind of pizza!