Before you can add pizza toppings to your pizza, you need a base. The best is pizza crust made from fresh dough. You can make your own using flour, yeast, olive oil, and a little water. Or, if you’re lucky, you can buy a ball of refrigerated dough at your grocery store. Many chains — including Wegman’s, Fresh and Easy, and Trader Joe’s — sell it.
Roll the dough out with a rolling pin, or stretch it to the desired thickness. If you feel inspired, you can prepare it the traditional way – by tossing it in the air. The toss-and-turn method takes a little practice, but it results in a thin, even pie.
You’ll probably only need half the dough for a pizza that’s about 13 inches. If you prefer a thicker-crust pie, use the whole ball and crimp the edges for a chewy outer crust.
Once the dough is ready, you can put it on a pizza pan, add your favorite pizza toppings, and bake in the oven or barbecue. Or you can preheat the pan in the oven at 450 degrees and make your pizza right on a pizza paddle.
If you haven’t used a paddle before, it seems a little intimidating, but it’s actually pretty simple. Just be sure to put corn meal on the paddle before you place the rolled-out dough on it. This will make the pizza slide right onto the pan with just a flick of the wrist.
Before adding your pizza toppings, spray or brush the crust with a little olive oil, and sprinkle a little garlic powder over it. Top with whatever toppings strike your fancy, then open the oven and slide the pizza off the paddle and onto the hot pizza pan.
Depending on your ingredients, start checking after about 8 minutes.
If making crust from scratch or rolling it out seems like too much effort, there are plenty of alternatives. Thick or thin ready-made crusts are easy substitutes, but they can be high in calories. If you’re watching your weight, read the nutritional information before you buy.
Tortillas are low in calories and fat, and because of their smaller size, they make great personal
pizzas. Everyone can choose the toppings they want. They cook quickly. And flavors like spinach and sun-dried tomato can add a little depth.
Almost any flatbread will also work. Pita bread and naan are good choices – sturdier than tortillas and more flavorful. Just be sure to drain wet ingredients like tomatoes or marinated artichoke hearts so your crust doesn’t get too soggy.
Split English muffins work well for appetizers-sized pizzas. Toast them before adding your pizza toppings so they’ll be more flavorful. And once they’re cooked, cut them into quarters so they’re bite sized.