Hands down, pizza night is the best night of the week. A swipe of sauce. A sprinkle of cheese. And just like that, dinner is made and everyone is happily full.
This isn’t necessarily a recipe, but a way to do family dinner. Or your kids’ next playdate. Or even a dinner party. Once you’ve figured out how to bake multiple pizzas in your oven, this may just be your favourite night of the week, too.
The essential are simple enough: pizza dough, sauce, cheese, toppings. Then, assemble and bake.
Pizza Night is the one night of the week we don’t use utensils. We eat with our hands, using the parchment paper as plates. Sometimes there are crudites in the center of the table to round out the carbs and cheese, sometimes there’s none.
Make a big batch of dough. Oil the dough, cover with plastic wrap, then let it ferment in your fridge for a few days.
Do you know what makes kimchi taste good? Fermentation. Do you know what makes pizza dough taste good? Fermentation.
Yeah, it sounds weird. But trust me. Those few days of fermentation will give you the best crust and all those strange, charred bubbles that poof up and make your dough amazingly authentic.
When people arrive, hand out individual pieces of parchment paper, and divide the dough into equal size chunks. My recipe makes enough for 4 adult-sized pizzas or 6-8 kid-sized ones. Now comes the fun: shaping the dough.
With kids and adults alike, get through the tricky parts together. Avoid holes in the dough by pinching it back together. Lay out rolling pins to guarantee thin enough crusts. And let everyone have fun with it!
Yes, homemade marinara sauce always tastes better. But if you don’t have the time or inclination, jarred pasta sauce will do just fine.
For sauce alternatives, pesto is a great option. Barbecue sauce also works. This makes for a great Southern-style barbecue flavoured pizza. Not the classic Margherita pizza, but still really really good.
Pizza night is usually a good time to clear out leftovers. That little bit of curry chicken. Those two meatballs that didn’t get eaten. The random hotdog or leftover bits of pork roast. All of these will provide an amazing assortment of toppings that will put your local pizzeria to shame.
Think of toppings in terms of groups. What tastes good together? What veggies pair well with what meats? I think it’s nice to have a good variety but no too much. Then your guests will get stuck in the decision-making paralysis that comes with too much choice.
Just remember, you don’t need much. Except for cheese. You will always needs more cheese than you think. Mozzarella reigns supreme here.
Here’s some inspiration to get you started:
Curry Chicken + Raisins
Salami + Olives + Spicy Peppers
Really, anything goes so be as creative as you want!
Assembling + Baking Pizzas
Parchment paper is key. That way, it’s easy to slide the pizzas in and out of the oven. I use a rimless baking sheet as a pseudo pizza wheel. It takes a few tries, but you’ll get the hang of it.
If all goes well, you can bake 4 pizzas at the same time. Two on the middle rack and two on the bottom rack. Then, it’s time to eat!!! Ah, so tasty!!
- 4 cups flour
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1/4 cup olive oil plus more for the bowl
- 1 28 oz can (796 ml) whole, peeled tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp chili flakes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 16 ounces cheese grated
- 1/4 cup basil and/or Italian parsley optional
To make the dough:
- In a food processor with the dough attachment, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Process a few times to combine.
- In a measuring cup (at least 2 cups), combine warm water and olive oil. While the food processor is running, add water mixture to the flour mixture until a rough ball forms. Let the dough rest 2 minutes. Then process for 30 more seconds.
- Oil a large bowl with 1 tsp of olive oil and add the dough to the bowl. Flip the dough over so that both sides are coated with oil. Cover with saran wrap.
- If using the dough immediately, place in a warm area. Let dough rise for about an hour, until it's doubled in size.
- If you have the time, let dough rest in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. That extra time will allow the dough to ferment and taste extra good.
To make the marinara sauce:
- In a large stock pot, add the olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the oregano, chili flakes, and garlic. Mix until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes. Break up tomatoes with a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Add sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a gentle simmer.
- Let cook for 20-25 minutes until the tomato sauce is thick and rich. Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl.
To make the pizzas:
- Hand out individual pieces of parchment paper to each person and one dough ball. Everyone should shape their dough directly on top of the parchment paper and add sauce, cheese, toppings.
- About 30 minutes before baking and while everyone is making their pizzas, heat up the oven to 500F/260C.
- When it's time to bake the pizza, use a rimless baking sheet as a pizza wheel. Slide the parchment paper and accompanying pizza onto the rimless baking sheet one by one and slide into the oven. Two pizzas should fit in the middle rack and two pizzas should fit on the bottom rack, directly on top of the grates, for a total of 4 pizzas.
- Lower heat to 450F/230C and bake pizzas for 8 minutes.
- Remove from oven, one by one, with the rimless baking sheet. Sprinkle with fresh herbs. Let cool slightly and then cut into equal-sized wedges. Serve with salad or vegetable crudites, if you like.