Lunch might be one of my least favorite meals to think about. Just when I’ve finally gotten breakfast dishes done and a good groove going, I have to stop and figure out what to make for lunch. But even though I whine about it often, can I just say, among friends, that sometimes I pull off my most “fly by the seat of my pants, use whatever craziness I can find in my fridge”-inspired and delicious meals.
Sunday lunch can be particularly difficult. The car ride home from church is anything but spiritual. Hangry kids dominate the fifteen minute drive home and by the time I get back to my kitchen still strewn with breakfast mess, everyone is starving and I’m generally not in the mood to put anything remotely inspiring in front of my family.
But every once in awhile I can stave off their hungry with some crackers and hummus and buy myself a little time to put something more creative on the table.
Sunday is also my grocery-shopping day, so this means I’m often working with the bare bones of materials. When this happens, this simple pizza dough recipe is a fantastic back-up plan. Obviously, it works for dinner, too. (Like tonight, when I realize it’s 4:52pm and I have no plan? Normally, I’d reach for this dough recipe and put something together. Tonight, I’m feeling the leftover love.)
This pizza dough doesn’t require any special attention–it’s no knead, no rise and aside from a short pre-bake, it goes into the oven so quickly, it’s criminal.
My favorite way to make pizza lately, is to first cook up some bacon in my cast iron skillet. Then I remove the bacon to a paper towel, and drain off most of the drippings. In the same pan, I’ll then brown some diced onion and chopped garlic, and then finish it off with whatever greens I have in my fridge. On Sunday, I finished up some spinach and kale that was getting a little limp.
I rub this onion, garlic and greens mixture over the pizza crust, then top with cheese and bacon. I love a good sharp cheese, and if I had it would also have added some fresh mozzarella or ricotta. I’ve even added grilled chicken or thin slices of potato leftover from the night before.
On Friday night we had a long and wanderlust-inducing conversation with our seminarian who comes for dinner each week (and who spent 3 years in Rome before coming to Maryland) on the gastronomy of Italy. I decided to try his suggestion of cracking an egg into the middle of the pizza before baking it in the oven. Hold the phone. Stop the presses. People, you must try this. Then with some crushed pepper on top, served up with a glass of wine and the Sunday paper? Perfection, if I do say so myself.
So if you don’t have a go-to, no knead, no rise, last-minute, use it in a pinch pizza dough recipe, this one will be your new best friend. And do yourself a favor–if you must, make the traditional cheese for the kids, but crack an egg into the pizza for the adults. Delish. (Although all my kids would like to report that the egg pizza was their favorite. We’re warming them up for our dream trip to Italy.)
Simple Pizza Dough : No knead, no rise
Add 1 teaspoon of sugar to 1 cup of warm water and stir to combine. Next add 2 teaspoons of dry yeast to the water + sugar mixture and allow to proof for at least 5 minutes. (You’ll see evidence of bubbling/foaming on the surface to know that it’s working.)
Meanwhile in the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor (with the dough blade) add 2 1/2 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons of olive oil (I use a canola + coconut oil), 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Mix this together. With the mixer still running add the water + yeast mixture. Continue to mix until it pulls into a ball. Drop onto a floured surface and divide into two balls for making pizza crusts. (Confession: sometimes I give it 4 or five kneads just to smooth out the dough. But nothing hard core.) Press, stretch and flatten dough onto pizza stone or cookie sheet. I like to spray mine with a light cooking spray or olive oil, so it won’t stick. Brush lightly with olive oil and place in preheated 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes to pre-cook the crust. Remove from the oven add toppings and return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until baked and browned thoroughly. Enjoy!