You may find this hard to believe, but I used to dislike pizza. I don’t remember exactly when it became a trend in Romania, but it was probably shortly after the revolution. I remember trying my first slice while we were on vacation and I just couldn’t eat it. Maybe it was the overuse of tomato sauce , or bad toppings, but despite my mom’s efforts I refused to eat pizza. And then, I came to college in the US where you kind of have to eat pizza 🙂 Well, I had this seminar based class over lunch with free pizza twice a week. At the beginning, I tried to have lunch before the class, but it got more and more difficult to find the time for it and I found myself “forced” to give pizza another chance. I love chicken, so I went for the BBQ chicken pizza and after removing the long slices of onions, I was able to sort of enjoy it. Another obstacle was that I had to eat it with my hands!!! in front of other people too 🙂 I don’t remember when the transition happened, but I slowly became a pizza lover. I do have my favorites, of course, but I think I can east most pizzas right now. I even find myself craving pizza once in a while 🙂
I’ve only made pizza twice before this time, and one lesson I learned was not to buy pre-made dough unless you know which one to buy, which I still don’t know, so I just make my own 🙂 I ended up buying the pesto for this pizza. I know, I know, this is a cooking blog, I am supposed to make things from scratch :-), but have you seen how much basil cost in my grocery store?!?! I don’t know what’s going on, but I refused to pay $2 for 1 stem with a few leaves of basil so instead I paid $4 for a whole container of pesto (which includes pine nuts that are crazy expensive as well). I was planning on a sun dried tomato pesto, but that will have to wait until I find cheaper basil 😉
Ingredients (for 1 pizza):
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 yeast packet
- 1 tsp salt
- cornmeal to dust the pizza pan
- 1/4 cup pesto
- 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, pre-hydrated
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted, sliced
- 1 small jar of artichoke hearts, slices
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella-provolone cheese mix (or more)
To make the dough warm up a cup of water (don’t let it get too hot or it will kill the yeast). Place flour in a big bowl, make a whole in the middle and add salt and yeast. If you’re not sure if your yeast is still active, you can place it in a cup with a little bit of warm water and see if it starts forming bubbles after a few minutes. Add water gradually and knead the dough.
Cover dough with a towel and place in a warm place (I put mine on a chair, by the heater). Let dough rise for 30 min – 1hr or until double in size. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 F, hydrate the sun dried tomatoes, chop the artichokes and the olives. I actually had to pit my olives as well this is why they ended up so irregularly shaped 🙂 Place some cornmeal in the pizza pan.
Bake until the mozzarella melts and the veggies are warmed through (about 5 more minutes).
My kitchen smelled so nice while I was baking it. Good thing it bakes fast, because I was very impatient to taste it 🙂 This pizza tasted great, especially since it had most of my favorites ingredients 😉 One thing I love about cooking is that you can add whatever you want to the dish and modify the flavors to your taste. In my efforts to make the veggies and feta the stars of the pizza, I didn’t add enough mozzarella and it made the toppings a bit unstable. Next time, I’ll try to do a better job at cheesing in the toppings 😉