February 18, 2008

Dark Days Challenge Week 7: Sausage Pizza and Roasted Beet Salad


I've made pizza before, but it always came out dense and crunchy throughout. This time I was amazed to open the oven and see a beautiful golden brown puffy crust. It may have actually risen this time because I used sugar instead of raw honey. I know I shouldn't use raw honey, since I've read it sometimes has bacteria that can kill yeast, but I love the idea of using local honey too much to give it up. Well maybe I should.

Or it could have been because I kneaded the dough in the food processor instead of by hand. I have always been afraid of using the dough option on my food processor, worried that the dough would come out over-kneaded. However, it was so amazingly easy and quick that I'll have to do it again. I'm horribly inefficient at kneading dough. First I am never sure if the consistency is right so I keep adding water and flour. Then I feel like I'm kneading forever but the dough never stops being sticky. But 45 seconds in the food processor and the dough was perfectly kneaded.

I topped this with flavorful DiPaolo turkey sausage, tomato sauce, and some parmesan. I'm not big on cheesy, greasy pizzas and can thus hardly stand most pizzeria pizzas these days - so this simple combination was enough for me. On the side, we enjoyed a roasted beet salad again. Amazing how I gobble down roasted beets these days, when I barely knew beets existed before this year.

Pizza Dough
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp raw sugar

1 cup tomato sauce (from a jar or can since it's winter)
2 large cloves garlic
1/2 onion
1/3 lb turkey sausage, not in casing

Pour flour and salt into a food processor and stir to combine. In a small bowl, combine water, yeast, oil, and sugar. Pour wet mixture into food processor. Process on dough button for 45 seconds. Use a spatula to turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a couple times. Form dough into a ball and place in a large bowl, covered with a plate, and let rise in a warm spot (I place the bowl inside my oven, turned off and propped slightly open) for 45-90 minutes, depending on the temperature of the ingredients and your warm spot. My yeast came straight from the fridge and the flour straight from the freezer, so it took a full 90 minutes to double in size.

Turn dough out upside down on a lightly floured surface and gently press down to deflate. Form dough into a ball and return to bowl. Let rise another 25-40 minutes, approximately half the time of the first rise.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place a large cookie sheet at bottom rung of oven to preheat.

Meanwhile, sautee diced onion and garlic in olive oil over low heat. Add turkey sausage, stir and chop it into crumbles, and continue to cook until browned.

Turn dough out upside down on lightly floured surface and gently press down to deflate. Roll dough out into a thin, flat circle. Top pizza with drizzled olive oil, then tomato sauce, then sausage mixture, then grated parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper, and oregano and basil.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and sprinkle cornmeal over it. Carefully slide pizza onto the sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until puffed and golden brown.

Makes two filling servings.

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