Shifting over to food now, are you finding enough things to do with all the wonderful produce right now? I had to laugh when I saw a big, abandoned zucchini right in the middle of the road last week. All those urban legends came to mind about people’s desperation to get rid of the squash. (Freeze it! Dry it! Slice it and pretend it’s pasta in recipes!)
I have two main recipes I make when I need to use up odds and ends: soup, and pizza. You can make pizza just about as fast as running down to Little Caesar’s, and it’s much better. I make a batch of bread every week (the six-loaf batch holds us, and fills the oven), and as often as not, bread-baking day is Pizza Day. This way I already have the dough, so it’s a no-brainer for dinner. If you make the dough in the morning, you can keep a chunk in the fridge until almost dinner time. If you’re making the dough that afternoon, you can let it rise, punch it down, let it rise, punch it down,….repeat until you’re ready for it! Or even just use it without letting it rise first. One loaf’s worth of dough (1 to 1 ½ lbs) is a good amount to fill a 12x18 cookie sheet. To keep it from sticking to the pan, either grease or oil it, or sprinkle it with cornmeal or Cream of Wheat (coarsely ground wheat). If you like a crispy crust, preheat the cookie sheet with 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil on it. Or bake it on a pizza stone. Roll the dough out, and bake it at 425 degrees (really, any temperature between 325 and 450) until it’s just set (no longer doughy), then add toppings and bake or broil until the cheese is melted. You can even bake some crusts ahead of time; bake for 5-10 minutes at 425, cool, wrap, and freeze. The Basic Bread recipe is also posted on this site.
My basic pizza sauce is:
one (8 oz) can tomato sauce
garlic powder (1/2 tsp.) or minced garlic (1-2 cloves)
a couple shakes of black pepper
spices: total of around 1 tsp. of whatever sounds good- oregano, basil, thyme, fennel seeds (great but go LIGHT on this one), rosemary
But what it really looks like, when I cook, is: open one can of tomato sauce, and to the top of the can add a couple shakes each of garlic powder and black pepper (if I feel like it), and then a few shakes each of 2-3 kinds of my ‘green spices’ (the ones listed, above). Stir it, kind of, then spread it on the baked crust. Sometimes I have part of a jar of spaghetti sauce sitting in the fridge. That makes a good pizza sauce, too. So does barbecue sauce. Or Alfredo. Whatever you have that needs used.
If you have a bunch of tomatoes, you can use a bunch of them on the pizza, sliced or diced, and skip the sauce. You already know the standard toppings; other topping ideas are:
- Shredded zucchini (yes, really. Especially if it’s hidden under the cheese)
- Shredded carrots (hides especially well under Cheddar)
- Chopped up spinach or chard leaves
- Onions or green onions, bell peppers
- Leftover bits of meat (whatever lonely thing is sitting around gets added to our pizzas)- ham, deli meat, bacon, summer sausage from last Christmas (those things last forever!), crumbled hamburger patties, chicken, etc.
And of course you can always look at your favorite pizza chain’s menu to get more topping ideas.
You can also make breadsticks or dessert sticks/pizza out of the dough. To make simple breadsticks, roll out the dough, cut into strips with your pizza cutter. Bake, then brush with melted butter, sprinkle with Parmesan and garlic powder. Dip in spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce. For dessert sticks, roll and cut them the same, but roll in melted butter and then in a mix of cinnamon and sugar. Then bake. Dip in applesauce or drizzle with glaze (1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 1-2 Tbsp. milk or water)