Monday, May 9, 2011

For The Love of Basil

I have been staring at this basil plant on my kitchen counter for two weeks.  Ever since I got it I've had one thing on my mind. Pizza!  I'll keep this plant all through summer and use the leaves in sauce, pesto, marinades, and salads.  But fresh basil on homemade pizza is something that cannot wait.  Every time I walk into the kitchen and get a whiff of the scent, I crave it.  For the love of basil, I must have pizza. 

I love making pizza and try to make it as often as I can. It's fun and believe it or not, it's less expensive than take out pizza - and healthier. I remember growing up my mother used to make pizza all the time and I always felt like it was such a treat.  Did all mom's make their own pizza?  I thought mine was the only one : )

The first summer hubbie and I were dating I made pizza every Saturday night.  When he found out I loved to cook, and I found out he loved to eat, it was a match made in garlic heaven. 

We would spend our Saturdays at the beach and our nights eating pizza and watching Welcome Back Kotter reruns.  This is true.  This was a long time ago, but still a very vivid memory.  Fun times.

Even if we weren't at my house I would make pizza - his house, friends house, didn't matter.  Have pizza pan - will travel.  One time we had a pool party at his house and I made pizza for all his friends.  I guess he wanted to share the pizza love. 

This past Friday night we were at my parents house.  We were going to order take out when I decide it would be a better idea to make pizza instead.  Enter exhibit A - the Basil. 

I know a lot of people have their own methods for making pizza, but here's what I do.  First thing is the dough.  You can certainly make your own dough, but I find that if you buy it fresh at the supermarket it tastes just as good.  I buy it in the morning and then put it in a warm place to rise and get puffy.

I always use cookie sheets instead of pizza pans. I feel like you get more pizza this way. Drizzle some olive oil on the cookie sheet to coat the pan.  Now spread the dough onto the cookie sheet.  You will have to knead and stretch it a little, but eventually it will fit. 

Drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and spread crushed garlic all around.

Friday night I made two types of pizza.  One with fresh tomatoes and one with traditional sauce. 

For the one with the fresh tomatoes, I always use the vine ripe tomatoes.  Slice them thin and line the pizza. 

Cover with shredded mozzarella cheese - as much as you like.  Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning and then add your topping.  I covered this one with Basil.  Drizzle with a little olive oil. 

For the next pizza, instead of tomatoes,  I used regular sauce.  My mom had some left over meat sauce in the fridge, so we used that.  This is her homemade sauce - it has hamburger, peppers, onions, and garlic in it.
This sauce is a meal in itself.

I spread the sauce on the prepared dough.

Covered with cheese, Italian Seasoning, and my love - Basil.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes and you will get the perfect pizza...

Or two perfect pizzas!

The best part about making pizza is that there is no right or wrong.  Add whatever toppings you love and enjoy. 

I like to make the one with the fresh tomatoes in the summer because the tomatoes are so delicious.  I let them ripen on the window sill and when the time is right it's time for pizza. Sometimes we add broccoli, or mushrooms, or pepperoni.  When I'm feeling fancy I do black olives and prosciutto.  Tonight we went for plain cheese, which is my little one's favorite. 

After dinner there were three pieces left on the platter.  I told my mom to keep it.  When  I went back the next day I walked in on my Dad preparing his lunch.  Guess what it was....

Apparently it's better the second day (with a cold beer!).

Ok, now that I satisfied my craving for tomato and basil pizza I have the start thumbing through my pesto recipes.  I just love basil. 

I also have to see if I can find some old Welcome Back Kotter reruns online.  My hubbie used to be able to do a pretty good Vinnie Barbarino impression.  But like I said, that was a long time ago. 

Fun times.

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