I’ve never made pizza from scratch before. Shocking, isn’t it? I bake bread and hamburger buns, challah and popovers, but somehow I just never got around to pizza. It seemed so much easier to buy the dough already made, either Trader Joe’s whole-wheat version or fresh from the local pizzeria. You know where this is going, right?
Yesterday afternoon, while Stephen and Harry were at the playground, I decided to take the leap. I had just enough time to throw together some dough and let it rise before the men got home, as long as I didn’t use this amazing-looking recipe that called for a minimum 24-hour rest (which, I just discovered, JeanneEatsWorld endorsed tonight). I found a version that seemed both healthy and easy (Easy Whole Wheat Pizza Dough from Eating Well), and about ten minutes later my dough was resting in its oiled bowl, huddled under a dish towel.
Since I’m on Weight Watchers, I knew the pizza would have to be more about vegetables than cheese (except for Harry’s portion, which would get full-force cheese and more than a few black olives). I also knew that plain vegetables would taste, well, plain. So while the dough did its thing, slowly swelling in the bowl, I roasted every vegetable in the crisper that seemed like it might taste good on a pizza. Mushrooms. Zucchini. Broccoli. Onions. And the kicker: a pint of grape tomatoes, which went into their own baking dish with a drizzle of oil and more than a little garlic. This would be my sauce (again, except for Harry’s, which got a spoonful of Rao’s jarred sauce instead—the tomato skin and large chunks would most definitely have inspired a meltdown, and I’m just not in the mood these days).
When the tomatoes burst, I pulled them from the oven and gently pushed down with a potato masher to draw out all the juices.
About ten minutes before the men were due home, I stretched my dough and laid it on a wacky perforated pizza pan I’ve had for years (another thing I’ve never done: bought a pizza stone). Spooned the roasted tomatoes over 2/3 of the pie, scattered the soft vegetables on top—those onions, oh! soft and sweet as honey—and finally, a scant coating of shredded mozzarella. Harry came home just in time to plunk sliced olives onto his pristine section.
Into a blazing-hot oven it went. Fourteen minutes (and fourteen preschooler queries: “Is my pizza ready yet?”) later, out it came, bubbling and browned and smelling absolutely incredible. This was a success. Oh, yes it was.
Roasted Vegetable Pizza
Makes 6 slices
Weight Watchers members: each slice is 5 points
3 cups grape tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, well smashed
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt & pepper
Roasting-friendly vegetables of your choice, cut into small, uniform pieces
1 recipe, pizza dough of your choice (I used Easy Whole Wheat Pizza Dough from Eating Well)
fresh basil or oregano leaves (optional)
4 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
NOTE: These instructions involve using a pizza pan, which is heresy, I know. If you’re into pizza enough to have a stone, by all means use it; I assume you’ll know how to adapt this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 425°, and position racks in the upper and lower thirds. Put the tomatoes, garlic, and oil into a baking dish large enough to hold the tomatoes in one layer, and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Into the oven it goes, on the higher rack, while you prepare the remaining vegetables.
Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray or parchment paper, and spread the other vegetables on top—don’t crowd them, or you won’t get that yummy browning effect. Sprinkle with salt and pepper—and if you’re not watching your diet, drizzle on some olive oil, too. After the tomatoes have been roasting about 10 minutes, move them to the lower rack, giving the dish a shake on the way, and slip the baking sheet onto the higher rack.
Roast the vegetables for 15 to 20 minutes, until all the tomatoes have burst and the other vegetables are nicely browned, shaking the tomato dish every 10 minutes or so. (Normally I’d advise to flip the vegetables halfway through to promote browning, but since they’ll cook further on the pizza it’s not necessary here.) To nudge the tomatoes a bit more towards sauciness, mash them gently with a potato masher.
Raise the heat to 450° and move the upper rack into the center position. Coat a pizza pan with cooking spray (or sprinkle with corn meal) and set aside. On a clean, floured surface, stretch the dough into a circle approximately 15” in diameter, then transfer to the pan.
Spread the tomato-garlic mixture all over the dough, leaving a bit of visible crust around the outside. Next, scatter the optional herbs all over, then the roasted vegetables, and top with the cheeses.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is browned and the cheese is lightly browned and bubbling. Let it sit for a few minutes before cutting, or the cheese will ooze everywhere and you’ll burn the heck out of your mouth.