June 7 – June 13, 2021
Monday: Roasted Asparagus & Arugula w/ Hard-Cooked Eggs & Walnuts
Tuesday: Corn and Sausage Pasta
Wednesday: Molletes (Mexican open-face sandwiches with refried beans, etc.)
Thursday: Grilled Lamb Chops with Spring Peas and Mint
Friday: Pizza with Onion, Sausage, Sauce, Mozzarella and Basil
Saturday: Tacos by Las Chicas at Neighborhood Graduation Party
Sunday: Chicken Shawarma with Rice
Pizza Sauce and Toppings
Great dough and crust are the keys to a good night of pizza, beer, football, poker or what-have-you. And we’ve shared our fool-proof crust for home ovens on at least two occasions. (You can find a copy in the archives of this blog (“Keepers”) – or call me). But a crust by itself does not a pizza make.
The other foundational elements for a savory pie are the sauce and the toppings with which you adorn it. I have three thoughts to offer along those lines:
- The sauce recipe below is simple, can be adjusted to your precise taste, doesn’t cost much and will set you up for a perfect Margherita pizza, if you want to stick with tradition, or lead you on beyond Margherita to our favorite pie.
- The oiling and salting of that part of the crust – the edge – which has no topping, and the shaping of it into a sort of raised edge, is a neglected but important element in a great pie.
- And the use of Italian sausage (we like hot – you can also use sweet) and sautéed onions or shallots to bring your margherita up a notch is something my family, including SWMBO a high priestess in the conclave of margherita worship, certifies as spot-on, incredibly good, devastatingly delicious and “can-we-have-pizza-tonight” cravable.
So, help yourselves to a great pizza night with our advice. NOTE: On those nights when you haven’t made the dough ahead of time, buy some fresh dough at your local market or pizzeria. The Giant Eagle Market in Fox Chapel has its own pizza counter and makes very good dough – sometimes a bit yeasty, but always tasty. Their dough will keep in the refrigerator for two or three days and is easier to work with if you let it sit for a day and knead it a bit and let it rest before making the pizza.
Pizza Sauce and a Modified Margherita
Pour out enough tomato purée (often labled “passata”)* as you think you’ll need for your pie. We don’t like to over-sauce, but go by your own preference. Now add some kosher salt, ground black pepper and dried oregano. I start pretty light and keep adding until I have a sauce that tastes really good. Set this aside.
*Note: There are many good varieties of puréee or passata, including imported Italian products. DeLallo, a local Italian grocery makes its own and is very good.
When you form your pizza crust, use your fingers to push a little extra dough into the edge of the crust – you want it a bit thicker than the rest of the pie. Brush this slightly raised circumference of the pie with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt (flaky sea salt if you have it). You will eliminate those annoying scraps of crust that guests leave on their plate, if you do this.
At this point you can spread your sauce on the crust with a sort of swirl of a large spoon or ladle, being sure to leave about an inch of un-sauced crust at the perimeter. Play with different amounts of sauce – we don’t like a wet pizza, but you may. Now you can top with mozzarella, cook and dress with fresh basil. But for a heartier and, to our way of thinking, tastier pie do the following:
Before you sauce the pizza, cook one or two sausage links with casing removed (2 for a standard ‘large’ pie) in a skillet with a little olive oil. Keep breaking up the sausage. When the sausage is nearly done, add some diced onion or shallots (maybe 1/3 cup) to the skillet and cook until the onion is softened.
Now sauce the pie and distribute the onion and sausage mixture as evenly as you can. Or you can put the sausage mixture down first and then sauce. Now top with mozzarella and cook. Once you get this recipe down, you can open your own pizza shop – but remember that reliable delivery people are hard to come by these days.