We all know kids love pizza. Made from scratch, it can be both healthy and a great way to get your little ones to try new foods. It’s also a fun family project, so get ready for a little mess in the kitchen.
Start by taking the kids shopping and let them choose the toppings. Walk the produce aisle together and play guess the vegetable, then let them decide what’ll grace their creations. Some vegetables, like onions, develop a more subtle flavor after a quick sauté, and this can be done a few days ahead so they’ll be in the fridge ready to use at a moment’s notice. Chop broccoli florets into smaller pieces so they’ll cook nice and tender by time the pizza is done. Other vegetables like thinly sliced zucchini and eggplant can just be tossed in a bit of olive oil before spreading on top—they’ll roast on top of the pizza while it’s cooking.
And although we’re giving you a head start with a classic mozzarella cheese and tomato pizza, don’t stop at toppings. White pizzas, basically any pizza that doesn’t have sauce, is like a flatbread and crisps up deliciously. Sprinkle with fresh ricotta or goat cheese and let the kids pick a leafy green, like spinach or arugula. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, then bake as directed. With an endless imagination, the combinations are limitless.
Classic Cheese Pizza
Makes one 16-inch round thin-crust pizza
You can make the dough in the morning and take it out as soon as you get home to begin the rise. If you have a terracotta baking stone, use it for an extra-crispy crust. The final amount of flour will vary each time you make the recipe depending on humidity and the temperature in your kitchen.
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp yeast
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup warm water
non-stick cooking spray
1 ½ cups tomato sauce
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 425º. Spray a 16-inch round pizza pan with non-stick cooking spray or brush with olive oil and set aside. If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven to preheat. Coat a glass or ceramic bowl with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil and set aside.
- Add two cups of flour, yeast and salt to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse for 15 seconds to combine. Mix warm water and olive oil in a measuring cup. Pour liquid mixture into food processor using the feed tube and pulse just until dough comes together in a ball. If dough is still wet or sticky, add additional flour one tablespoon at a time and pulse again briefly to combine.
- Sprinkle one-half cup of flour on a clean counter or large cutting board and knead dough. Continue kneading additional flour if necessary, ¼ cup at a time, until the dough holds a fingertip impression. If it immediately pops back into a ball, then you need to add more flour. Place dough into coated glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, dry place and let rise until doubled in size, about one to one and half hours.
- Once dough has doubled in size, gently press dough into a circle in the coated pizza pans, being careful not poke any holes in the dough. Bake plain crust for five minutes. (TIP: you can prepare pizza to this step and freeze the prebaked crusts. When you're ready to make just take the frozen crust out and begin at step 5.)
- Remove from oven and divide tomato sauce and spread on top of each crust. Evenly sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over sauce and add desired toppings and return to oven. Cook for an additional 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is golden and bubbly. Let sit for a minute or two before cutting. Serve immediately.
Pizza night is a favorite with my five kids. Instead of arguing over toppings, I give each child their own ball of dough and they make personal pizzas. They get really creative; some create calzones while others put use the toppings to make art. - Kristen