12 adults. 4 kids. It’s the last day of a combined family vacation and there are tons of leftovers in the mountain cabin refrigerator. I had dinner duty. How do you use up the leftovers, make something even the kids will eat, and feed so many people? Pizza of course!
I found this brilliant recipe journal from Heidi Swanson that described the best Napolatana pizza dough. With only a few ingredients, a little time (which we had plenty of) and a little elbow grease, we had the best pizzas. (Ok, the stupid cabin oven was not the best and they did come out doughy because I didn’t have them in long enough, nor did I have my trusty pizza stone, but I know they had the promise of greatness if I had just left them in longer!)
I have to say that the dough was not only easy to make, but it was super easy to work with. I had no mixer, just a wooden spoon and a bowl. I did a have 6 round cookie sheets which were perfect pizza pans. I also had a loaf of french bread which I recreated the better pizzas on by making crostinis with the leftover ingredients.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any photographs, but listed below are the pizzas I created with the notes about how to prepare each. I would follow Heidi’s cooking time suggestion, but test when it comes out. Our oven, altitude, and cookie sheets definitely affected the cooking time. We finally figured out we needed about 11 minutes in a 450 oven for it to get crispy. That would not be the same for most ovens, especially if you use the pizza stones!
For the Kids:
Just tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Why get complicated?
For the Adults:
Caramelized Onion with Goat Cheese: Slice 2 sweet onions into thin round strips. Heat a couple swirls of olive oil in a pan over medium high heat, add the onions and cover the pan for 3 minutes. Remove the cover, add just a little salt, and stir for another 11 minutes until the onions have cooked down and are clear. Remove from heat and set aside. Brush the uncooked pizza dough with a light cover of your choice of tomato sauce, add the caramelized onions, goat cheese crumbles and a little chopped fresh basil.
BBQ Chicken: We had about 2 cups of leftover bbq chicken. I caramelized a red onion (see instructions above, but only use one 1 red onion. Top the pizza with bbq sauce, bbq chicken (already cooked), caramelized red onion, a mixture of cheddar, mozzarella, and Colby jack cheeses (or whatever cheese you prefer – that’s the joy of pizza!)
White Pizza: I used jarred pesto which is a favorite appetizer ingredient (pour pesto over cream cheese, eat with Wheat Thins crackers…it’s addicting.) I spread the pesto over the rolled out pizza dough and sprinkled a mixture of shredded white cheeses (mozzarella, Asiago, parmesan, provolone, & romano). Yes, I used bagged shredded cheese. But I did add slices of fresh mozzarella too!
Margherita Pizza: We had a couple baggies of tomatoes left over from our lunches, so my friend chopped them up. I added a brush of the tomato sauce on the rolled out dough, the chopped tomatoes, a little sautéed garlic, chopped fresh basil and covered the entire thing in slices of fresh mozzarella. I love when you bite into this pizza how the tomatoes pop the juice in your mouth and then the mozzarella sort of smooths it over. All fresh ingredients and so much fresh flavor!
Steakhouse Pizza: I have to give my friend, Doug, credit for this one. It started with the bag of mushrooms we had left over. I believe they were just button mushrooms. I’m not a mushroom fan, but he had the idea of tomato sauce, more of the caramelized sweet onions, mushrooms, and topped with some smoked gouda slices we had left over from the lunch. He seemed to love it and I probably would have tried it, had it not been for the mushrooms.
For a New Years Day dinner, it may not have had the good luck stigma such as black-eyed peas or sauerkraut, but I think pizza is the best way to start a New Year. 2012 is looking good!