Could it be the most family-friendly dinner dish ever? Pizza night is a weekly tradition in so many homes (in 2016, pizza was even named the most instagrammed food!). Growing up, my mom would make mini pizzas in the mornings for our school lunches. I've recently begun including pizza in my kids' cooking lessons, where everybody loves it. I developed a spelt dough recipe for the lessons, and we use it all the time at home, too.
As we all know, kids love to help dress up their own pizzas with toppings. But they also love to mix the dough and then roll it out once it has risen. This is a very straightforward meal for a weeknight; the toppings are of course endlessly variable, and you can make great use of leftovers and small amounts of vegetables in your fridge. For one pizza we used some of this stunning pork ragu, with mozzarella. (The ragu was a real workhorse: we ate it initially on pasta and then also had it in tacos and sloppy joes: in total, 4 meals.) Cash chose olives, herbs and mozzarella for the pizza he was topping. Here he is to tell you all about it:
Pizza is a great vehicle for new foods. I find that kids are likely to try new ingredients if they select them, handle them, brush them with olive oil and have them under bubbling cheese. It helps to make everything from scratch so children really have a hand in the whole process. The sauce bubbles away on the stove while the dough rises and the toppings are prepared. Cash prefers his pizza without tomato sauce (his favourite pizza at our local joint is the clam pie), and a few of his favourite toppings are mushrooms, anchovies, and the above olives and herbs. Here he is last month slicing the mushrooms for his pizza.
I talked about pizza last fall in this post, along with other staple dinners. I love this dough - it's quick, and the spelt gives it such a lovely flavour without being too heavy.
School Night Spelt Pizza Dough
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
110 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
80 g (1/2 cup) spelt flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp oil (for bowl)
Heat oven to 225 degrees F; leave on for five minutes, then turn off.
Pour water into a medium-sized bowl and add the yeast. Let sit for a few minutes until the yeast begins to proof. Add both flours and the salt, and mix. As soon as it gets stiff, abandon the spoon and use your hands to knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together in a smooth ball. Turn it out on a floured surface to make this easier. Lightly oil the bowl and put the dough ball back in. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the recently turned off oven for 30 minutes. It will rise nicely. Now it is ready for your kids to roll it out and top it however they please!
Rolled out thinly, this makes two medium pizzas - enough to feed our family of four with no leftovers. I often double the recipe when we have guests - it's perfect party food, of course. We like to brush the crust with olive oil before adding any toppings - it adds a nice crunch and richness to the finished pizza. After topping, bake your pizzas in a 450 degree oven for about 9 minutes. It's fun for kids to use scissors to cut their own slices at the table.