Friday, March 2, 2012

Veggie Pizza

It all started with an episode of Caillou on the Sprout TV channel. For the uninitiated (read those without toddlers at home) Caillou (pronounced "kai-you") is an animated series about a 4 year old boy. And whatever Caillou does, my until recent 4 year old, would want to do too. BTW, he just turned 5 and keeps asking me when Caillou is going to be 5!

To get back on track, there was this episode on the series where Caillou and his friends make their own pizzas during a play date. Ever since that day I have been cajoled and pestered to do something similar for him. Finally I gave in today. Friday's are pizza days at school, so my little one doesn't carry lunch from home. But today was a half day, and he felt cheated out of his pizza! So we decided to have his friend over for a play date right after school, and the first activity would be - you guessed it right, making their own pizza.

So, what should have been a quick pop in the oven, turned out into an hour long event involving much fun, laughter, cheese grabbing, sulking over who got more toppings and of course the inevitable mess! But it was a good time bonding over cooking and we'll probably be doing more such stuff! And no, no one got burnt, or caused the fire alarm to scream or tripped and fell over anything, which was a small miracle in itself - ask my friend and collaborator, who goes by the name of "Saffron" in my blog world!

If you decide to make pizza with your kids, one piece of advice, please make the crust yourself - or before you know it, they are going to toss the dough in the air, singing "Mambo Italiano"! Oh yes, these budding chefs wanted to make pizza just the way Caillou's dad did! Another thing - spread the sauce yourself too - its easier to clean veggies and cheese crumbs, than to wipe a saucy gooey mess off the floor!

So, all set? Lets get started...

Preparation & Cooking: 1 hour to let the dough rise and another 45 minutes approx.        
Serves: 2 very hungry kids and 2 not so hungry adults :)


For the crust:

All purpose flour - 2 cups
Yeast - 1 tablespoon
Salt - ½ teaspoon
Sugar - a pinch
Warm water - 2/3 cup
Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons
Mrs.Dash's table blend (unsalted) - 1 teaspoon (or you could use a blend of dry spices like basil, parsley, oregano, garlic powder and pepper)

For the toppings:

Onion - ½ of a small one, sliced
Capsicum (Bell Peppers) - ½, sliced
Tomato - 1 small, sliced
Broccoli - ¼ cup, broken into small florets
Mushrooms - ¼ cup, sliced
Pineapples - ¼ cup, diced
Carrots - ¼ cup, sliced
Pizza/Pasta Sauce - ½ cup
Shredded Cheese - 2 cups (we used the Italian five cheese blend which has mozzarella, smoked provolone, white cheddar, Romano and Asiago cheeses)


For the crust:

  1. Take all the dry ingredients along with olive oil and gradually add water to form a soft dough.
  2. Knead it well and coat it with a little bit of olive oil before covering with a cling wrap and leaving it in a warm corner for at least an hour.
  3. After about an hour or so, the dough would have risen to double its original size.

How to proceed:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit or  195 degree Celsius.

  2. For making the pizza base, we adopted 2 different methods. First of all we divided the dough into 2 small round pieces and one big one. My friend Saffron decided to use her hands to roll and pat the dough for the base, while I used a rolling pin and a floured rolling board to get the round shape for the crust.

  3. Then we each laid out the base on an aluminum foil, placed these on a plate and spread out 3-4 tablespoons of the sauce on each of them.

  4. Next, we handed them over to the kids to be topped with whatever they wanted, to their heart's content.

  5. After this came the sprinkling of cheese till all the veggies got thoroughly covered with it! Well, I suspect more cheese went directly into their tummies than on the pizza!

  6. Finally we popped them in the oven for about 25 minutes. Oven timings may vary, keep checking and switch off the oven once the cheese melts completely and begins to brown.

  7. Take them out of the oven carefully, slice them with a pizza cutter, and dig in!

We made our own adult version with the remaining toppings. We went for a thin crust pizza. The crust was nice and crunchy while the top was cheesy & soft. We sprinkled some red chilli flakes over our pizza to spice it up. All that was missing was a bottle of coke! And as my son pointed out - olives. He loves black olives on his pizza and that was the one ingredient missing from my pantry. Oh well, there is always a next time...

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