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Garden Pizza, Easy as 1-2-3

By Diana Wind (windSeptember 1, 2010
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Pizza-themed gardens are a fun way to involve children in the garden and teach them about gardening, food science, and nutritious, healthy foods. Making a pizza from scratch is fun and rewarding for both adults and children. A homemade pizza becomes a work of food art, your very own creation to be savored and enjoyed by all, and it's as easy as 1-2-3.

Gardening picture
  • 1- Make the dough
  • 2- Make the pizza
  • 3- Bake and serve

So simple, and oh so good when topped with tomato sauce, melted cheese and fresh toppings. My personal favorite is homemade pizza topped with vegetables and herbs fresh picked right from the garden. Preparing a homemade garden pizza is rewarding and fun to make. Making pizza is a great way to involve and educate children in the joy of cooking, food science and gardening. Quick pizza snacks or meals can be made anytime, using homemade dough, store bought dough, or even on Italian bread, flat bread, or English muffins. 

A Pizza Garden

Being so popular with all age groups, pizza can become a themed garden all on its own. A pizza garden, along with hands-on pizza making--utilizing fresh garden-grown foods--can be both educational and fun. The ideal children's Pizza Garden includes garden vegetables and herbs that would make tasty pizza toppings, such as peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic, basil, and oregano. 

For the most delicious and nutritious garden pizza follow a recipe for the dough; try to use restraint with high fat and high sodium products, like pepperoni, sausage and cheese; top with healthy garden vegetables and herbs and add even more nutrients to the crust.

Added Nutrients

A delicious pizza begins with a good dough base. Dough can be made anytime when it is convenient for you. For best results, plan on making pizza dough on a day when you will be home. This way, you can check on the dough as it is rising.

Pre-made dough can be then be frozen for later use, or refrigerated the day before you plan to use it. Making your own dough enables you to incorporate added nutritional ingredients, such as whole grain flour, flax seeds, other seeds, or even herbs and spices.

Garden Pizza, Easy as 1-2-3

Hesitant to make Dough from Scratch?

Don't be.  Making your own pizza dough saves dough: it is less expensive and really easy to do, and shouldn't be a mystery. Start a new family tradition; you won't even need a mixer to make it.

Also, at the end of this article, check out the video shared by Eric of Breadtopia. He includes his pizza dough recipe and provides you with a visual demonstration of how to hand knead the dough.

Pizza dough can also be used for Ciabatta, Grissini (bread sticks), Focaccia, Calzone or Stromboli.

Putting it all together:

Notes: The recipe can be divided in half; however, you may find it most convenient to make at least two dough balls at a time, enough to yield two 10-inch pizza crusts. The dough freezes well and can be used as needed.

Larger batches of dough become difficult to hand knead. A machine mixer is recommended if you increase the recipe.

Also, check the date on your instant yeast packets and do not use if expired. Instant dried yeast is available in bulk at discount markets.

Ingredients

Dough:

Yields: 2, 10" pizzas

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet) instant dried yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (Not too hot or it will kill the yeast)
  • Pinch sugar
  • 4 cups unbleached all purpose white wheat flour (add more if the dough seems sticky)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Garden Pizza:

  • Flour and corn meal for dusting the baking sheet or peel*
  • Pasta sauce or olive oil and garlic, or pesto - enough to spread a layer on the base of the dough
  • Cheese
  • Assorted garden vegetables and herbs
When it comes to topping your pizza, go for availability, creativity and fun; there is no measuring. The more veggies you pile on, the healthier your pizza becomes -- be generous!

* A peel is a flat wooden board with a handle, used to slide the pizza onto the cooking surface

 

Make the Dough

Wash hands.

Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup warm water. Feed the yeast with a pinch of sugar, stir and set aside. In a few minutes you should see some foaming, indicating the yeast is alive and active. This is a good time to teach curious onlookers about the science of yeast fermentation.

Mixing the dough can be done by machine, but is most fun by hand. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, add the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to come together.

Remove the dough onto a lightly floured cutting board and hand knead until the dough becomes elastic and smooth: approximately 5 minutes.

Test the dough: pull out and stretch a piece of the dough -- if it tears --keep kneading a little longer to further stretch it and develop what is called gluten.

Dough for immediate use:

Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap, in a lightly oiled bowl and allow to rise in a draft-free location until doubled in size. This usually takes a few hours. The time will vary depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

Dough for future use:

Divide the dough in half.* Roll each portion into a ball, wrap well and freeze, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate in a bowl large enough for the dough to rise overnight in the refrigerator for use in the next day or two.

Thawing premade frozen dough

Unwrap the dough and place it in a lightly oiled bowl, large enough for expansion as it rises. Keep the bowl in a draft-free location covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel to keep it from drying out. Allow the dough to come to room temperature and rise until doubled in size.

  • Punch the dough down and scrape the dough out onto a cutting board. Press the dough into a circle and roll it out.

  • Your first attempt may not be the best time to give the dough a whirl and toss it up to the ceiling! Pizza shop employees make it look so easy, don't they? While rolling out your dough, use a sprinkle of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. Then press out the shape with your hands into an 8- to 10-inch circular shell.
  • Place your pizza shell on a cornmeal-dusted wooden peel or cookie sheet.

* An inexpensive bench scraper keeps your work surface clean and easily cuts dough

 Garden Pizza Topping Ideas

We welcome your comments at the end of this article telling us your favorite Pizza toppings and garden vegetable and herb cultivars

 Herbs & Spices Veggies & Fruits
 Cheese

Garlic

Chives

Garlic Chives

Purslane

Parsley

Thyme

Tarragon


True Oregano

Greek Oregano

Thyme Oregano

Rosemary

Chervil

Basil

Lovage

Tomatoes

Arugula

Broccoli

Radish

Carrots

Pumpkin

Zucchini

Eggplant

Artichokes

Olives

Green Onions

Onions

Bell Peppers

Sweet Banana Peppers

Hot Peppers!

Fresh mozzarella balls

Low fat or FF shredded mozz

Shredded Italian Fontina

Goat cheese crumbles

Gorgonzola

Parmesan

Romano

Shredded Soy cheese

Grated Soy cheese

Are you a Pepperoni lover? Pepperoni is flavorful, but really high in fat. 16 round slices (~32g) of pork or beef pepperoni contains 14g of fat and over 500mg of sodium. A healthier option of Turkey Pepperoni or Vegetarian Pepperoni is lower in fat, only 1.0g per 16 slices. Veggie Pepperoni is lower in sodium, 390mg; and is an excellent source of iron, zinc, thiamin and vitamin B-12. 

Assemble the Pizza

For your toppings in-season, visit your local farmers market or take a stroll through your own garden and snip or harvest whatever you want to serve on your pizza. in the off season, store-bought Slide Garden Pizza onto a baking stone in ovenvegetables and herbs are readily available. Wash and prepare your produce into bite size pieces. Broccoli, carrots and zucchini are best precooked before adding. When applying toppings, leave about a one-inch border without sauce around the outer edge.

White Pizza: Brush or finger-paint your pizza shell with olive oil and garlic or a spread of homemade pesto

Classic Pizza: Spread some pasta sauce (tomato sauce) on top of the dough

Magherita Pizza: Olive oil, sliced tomato, shredded mozzarella and fresh basil

Harvest Pizza: Mix half red sauce and half pumpkin puree. No one will tell that you've added Vitamin A and beta carotene to this healthy pizza. Great all year long and most fun at Halloween time; children can creatively decorate large or mini pizzas with pumpkin faces

Personal Pizza: Your own combination of toppings you and your family will enjoy!

Bake & Serve!

Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C)

This is when a baking stone comes in handy it really is the next best thing to brick oven style pizza, but a cookie sheet will work too. Place on oven rack and bake 7 to 10 minutes or until crust is golden brown.


Photos: Copyright ©Wind. All rights reserved.

 

Related Links:

Gluten Free Pizza by Carol Fenster, PhD

Teach Young Gardeners about Yeast Article 'Yeast Alive' by Vicki Cobb, Education World®. Yeast is used in bread doughs to create the airy texture by producing CO2 in a process called fermentation.

Healthy Pizza Recipes & Cooking Tips by Eating Well Magazine


  About Diana Wind  
Diana WindDiana is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a passion for gardening and sustainable foods. She is a graduate of the Academy of Culinary Arts and member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Food from the garden fuels her enthusiasm for eating right and nutritional science. She especially loves gardening as part of a healthy lifestyle. Gardening engages us with nature, gives us health benefits from exercise, and rewards us with fresh, nutritious foods. To assess your food and garden activity level, visit choosemyplate.gov or her blog. You can also follow Diana on Google.

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
wood fired pizza boleslaus 1 10 Sep 6, 2010 6:46 PM
YUMMMMMM.... Gitagal 5 23 Sep 6, 2010 6:39 PM
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