Starches: Grains, Pasta, Potatoes and Bread-Based Dishes

Quinoa Salad

Yields: 8 cups
Serving size: 1.33-2 cups
Servings: 4-6

Based on a recipe from Peter Berley's A Modern Vegetarian Kitchen. Derek claims this is the "best salad ever." I think it's the seeds that he adores. This is a pretty large recipe, but whenever I make it the salad doesn't last more than a few days. This is great for picnics or potlucks because it's colorful and served cold (although Derek always insists on warming it up).

Preheat the oven to 375F.

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring to a boil:

Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed. Let cool.

Spread on a baking sheet:

Toast in the oven for about 12(?) minutes, or until golden brown, being very careful not to burn them, especially the pumpkin seeds. I would check them and stir every 4 minutes, especially if your oven is hotter on one side or the rear.

(Optional) Combine and set aside for 10 minutes, then drain:

In a pot fitted with a steamer, combine:

Steam for 3 minutes, until crisp-tender. Remove from steam and let cool.

Mix together:

Into a large bowl place:

Add the nuts, the arame (optional), the corn and onion, the quinoa, and the marinade. Toss and chill before serving, at least 20 minutes.

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

Yields: 6 cups
Serving size: 2 cups (main dish) 0.75 cups (side)
Servings: 3 (main) or 8 (side)

Based on a recipe given to me by Anna Biscotti. The flavorings look strong, but are surprisingly mild and blend together wonderfully. Plus the nutritional value for this salad is great. This is great for picnics or potlucks because it's colorful and good at room temperature. If you replace the red pepper with (what to add in winter?, 1 grated carrot?, frozen corn?) and the cilantro with parsley?, this is a great salad for winter. If the sun-dried tomatoes are very dry, it might be necessary to soak them in boiling water briefly (or cook them with the quinoa?) The onion can be added raw, but once the salad sits overnight the onion flavor can become overpowering, so if you're not going to eat it all immediately I'd recommend briefly steaming the onion or leaving it on the side to be added by each individual.

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring to a boil:

Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed. Let cool.

In a pot fitted with a steamer, steam:

Steam for 3 minutes, until crisp-tender. Remove from steam and let cool. (Or pour boiling water over them?)

Meanwhile, toast in a dry skillet:

Combine the red onion and nuts together in a medium bowl, and add:

Toss in the warm quinoa and serve immediately. Or to give the flavors time to blend, refrigerate overnight, and reheat or eat cold for a lovely lunch.

Kasha Varnishkes

Adapted from Joan Nathan's Jewish Cooking in America. I first had this traditional Jewish dish at Ratner's in Manhattan... it was inedible. Why, oh why, I asked myself, didn't I order blintzes? After many years, the experience (and awful taste) had time to fade away, and I finally got up the nerve to try making kasha myself. I discovered that kasha is sweet and nutty, but subtle. Nothing like the terrible dish I had at Ratner's. The Varnishkes were originally a kreplach-type noodle, but for convenience packaged bow-tie noodles have become the standard. The noodles add a nice textural contrast, but I find them a bit extraneous. The dish is interesting and tasty even without the noodles. This recipe is very quick to make. It will be done by the time the noodles are cooked.

Put a large pot of water on the stove. While the water is coming to a boil...

Toast over high heat for 2 to 4 minutes until you start smelling the aroma of the kasha:

This will seal the groats so that there is a nutty, crunchy taste to them, a good foil to the soft taste of the noodles.

Sauté in a heavy frying pan:

When the onions begin to soften add: Saute until onions are golden and mushrooms cooked lightly. Remove vegetables to a plate.

Beat in a small mixing bowl:

Stir in the toasted kasha. Mix, making sure all the grains are coated.

Put the kasha in the frying pan in which the onions were sauted, and turn the heat to high. Flatten, stir, and break up the egg-coated kasha with a fork or wooden spoon for 2 to 4 minutes or until the egg has dried on the kasha and the kernels brown and mostly separate.

Add and bring to a boil:

Add the vegetables, cover tightly, and cook over low heat, steaming the kasha for 10 minutes. Remove the cover, stir, and quickly check to see if the kernels are tender and the liquid has been absorbed. If not, cover and continue steaming for 3 to 5 minutes more. While the kasha is cooking, cook according to the directions on the package. Drain the noodles, and combine with the kasha. Sprinkle with: Serves 6 to 8?

Try adding cabbage? Red bell peppers? Walnuts? Other herbs?

Saffron Risotto

Serving size:
Servings: 4-6?

Based on a recipe from the Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook. The saffron flavor is maximized by dissolving it in a little hot stock then adding it to the rice toward the end of the cooking time. This dish is plain, but very satisfying. The daisy-yellow color and creamy consistency make me feel like I'm eating macaroni and cheese.

Bring to a simmer over in a medium sauce pan: Keep it warm over low heat. Place in a small bowl and set aside to diffuse:
In a heavy bottomed, medium pot, heat:
Add: Sauté over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in: Cook for 1 minute. Add: Cook just until the alcohol aroma fades, 1 to 2 minutes. Add in 1/2 cup of the warm stock and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue adding stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring, for 20 minutes. Add the saffron-infused stock and continue cooking, stirring, until the rice is creamy and soft but still a bit al dente, about 5 minutes. (Add hot water if you run out of stock.)
Remove the pot from the heat and vigorously stir in the 1/2 cup cheese. Add salt to taste. Serve immediately.
Strain the soaking liquid through a fine strainer into the the warmed broth.

Red Wine Risotto with Rosemary and Garlic

Based on a recipe from The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook. The recipe was good the first time we made it, but we like it with just a bit more of all the flavors: garlic, rosemary, and wine. What comes out is true comfort food.

Serving size:
Servings: 3-4 large

Bring to a simmer over in a medium sauce pan: Keep it warm over low heat.
In a heavy bottomed, medium pot, heat:
Add: Sauté over medium heat until the garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in: Cook for 1 minute. Add: Cook just until the alcohol aroma fades, 1 to 2 minutes. Add in 1/2 cup of the warm stock and cook, stirring frequently, until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue adding stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring, until the rice is creamy and soft but still a bit al dente, about 25 minutes. (Add hot water if you run out of stock.)
Remove the pot from the heat and vigorously stir in Serve immediately.

Arroz sin Pollo

Adapted from This Organic Life. Saffron rice with peas (minus the chicken and salt pork). A very satisfying, comfort food. This dish gave me my first love of saffron. And Derek swears he can taste the chicken.... This is a very homey dish, but if you want to dress it up a little you can serve it paella style, in a large shallow pan with colorful veggies layed out on top in a star pattern, and a head of roasted garlic in the middle. Roasted cauliflower is especially nice.

Heat in a heavy 3 to 4 quart casserole: Add: Cook to soften but not brown. Stir in: Bring to a fast boil over medium heat, stirring until most of the liquid evaporates. Add: Bring to a boil quickly, then cover tightly, reduce heat, and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until rice has absorbed the liquid. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. The peas tend to get soft and dull colored. You can add the peas closer to the end of the cooking time to maintain their bright color and crispness, but then the flavors do not blend as well and the dish is not as coherent.

Veggie Paella

Based on a recipe from Cook's Illustrated. Par-cooked rice, a spicy make-ahead base, and a 450-degree oven make it possible to assemble this intricate Spanish dish in fifteen almost unattended minutes.

Yields: 6 cups
Serving size:


It is the rice that can be critical to the dish and also creates the most problems. If you cook it at too high a temperature, the liquid will evaporate rather than absorb and you end up with hard, undercooked rice. On the other hand, if you overcook the rice, which is particularly easy to do when cooking paella, then the grains will burst, and the paella turns heavy and gummy.

Another paella recipe

1. Bring stock to boil in large saucepan; simmer over low heat. Heat oil in large skillet; add rice, and stir constantly to toast rice, about 1 minute. Slowly add broth to rice; bring to boil over high heat, stirring constantly until some of the liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat; cover and set aside until broth is completely absorbed.

2. Move partially cooked rice to bowl and refrigerate until ready to assemble paella.

Can be refrigerated up to 2 days


This tomato base can be used as a base for dishes like black beans, chili, soups and stews. If poblano chilies are unavailable, substitute one red bell pepper and one jalapeno, each roasted, peeled and seeded; cut the bell pepper into medium dice, and mince the jalapeno.

Heat in a large, nonreactive saute pan: Add and saute until softened, about five minutes: Add: Simmer uncovered, until most of the liquid evaporates, about 20 minutes. Stir in: Set aside until ready to assemble paella.

Can be cooled to room temperature, covered, and refrigerated up to 1 week


Saute individually on high heat, until starting to carmelize but still crisp:

1-3 heads of garlic, roasted, placed in center of paella

other possible ingredients: asparagus, rosemary, paprika, lemon wedges/zest, parsley, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, orange peel, aioli?


Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Bring tomato base, broth, wine and saffron to simmer in paella pan. If you don't have a paella pan, use a 13-inch or larger skillet, or divide the ingredients between two medium skillets. Stainless-steel or anodized-aluminum skillets work best. Don't use cast iron or nonstick (but nonstick seemed okay?).

Add rice and veggie sausage; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally to keep rice from sticking, until heated completely through, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in peas and scallions; seasons to taste with salt.

Remove pan from heat and quickly arrange vegetables over rice mixture. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven, cover, and let stand for rice to complete cooking and remaining liquid to absorb, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.


I consider polenta to be one of the ultimate comfort foods. I've heard complaints that it is dull, but I find this is often due to insufficient salt. Well-seasoned polenta served right out of the pan, when it's still hot and creamy, is heavenly on a cold winter night. Plus, it is very simple to make. Some recipes add olive oil while cooking, but I have not noticed this improving either the flavor or the texture, so I recommend waiting, and drizzling extra virgin olive oil on your polenta after it is cooked, for flavor. If I don't use a nonstick pan, no matter how low I set my flame or how often I stir, I always seem to get sticking on the bottom of my pan. After a night's soak, however, it comes right off. Someday I'll figure out how to save that bottom layer of polenta from ruin.

Yields: 5? cups
Serving size:
Servings: 4-6 side servings

Combine in a large saucepan and bring to a boil: Reduce heat to low and very slowly pour in, stirring continuously: Stir until the mixture has begun to congeal into one mass rather than water + polenta grains, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to very low (warm on my stove), cover, and cook for about 60 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. If the polenta bubbles or sputters at all after the first 10 minutes, the heat is too high, and you either need to reduce it, use a heavier-bottomed pot, or potentially even use a heat-tamer. Properly heated polenta will do little more than release wisps of steam. If you're in a rush, the polenta can be made more quickly with the lid off, and more continuous stirring, but the texture will never be quite as creamy. When done, the polenta should be thick and smooth and beginning to pull away from the side of pan.
Remove from heat and serve immediately for a warm, comforting porridge. Alternatively, poor it into a mold and let it thicken. It can then be cut and fried or used in other recipes.

Variations For a very colorful polenta, try Peter Berley's suggestion of adding corn, hijiki, and grated carrot. Start the polenta. Meanwhile, soak 2 Tbs hijiki in water and grate a large carrot. Drain the hijiki after 20 minutes, and add the hijiki, corn, and grated carrot to the partially-cooked polenta. Neither the hijiki or the carrot will be enough to add much flavor, but the corn will be sweet and moist, and the polenta will have a lovely, somewhat exotic look. Other possible mix-ins or toppings include:

Five-Grain Croquettes

Based on a recipe from Peter Berley's The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen. These croquettes don't have any herbs or spices, but they're not at all bland. The sauted vegetables remind me a bit of stuffing, but the croquette have a fresh, simple flavor of their own. If you don't have amaranth, teff, quinoa, or millet, just substitute a little more of the other grains that you do have. Berley serves them with a carrot sauce, but his recipe wasn't great. I like them alot with a potent salsa verde.

Combine in a 3-quart saucepan over high heat: Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

While the grains cook, warm in a medium skillet:

Add and cook on medium-low for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking: Reduce the heat to low, cover, and continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender and slightly carmelized. You may need to add a tablespoon or two of water if they begin to burn.

Lightly oil a baking sheet (or two?)

When the grains are done, add the vegetables to the grains and mix thoroughly. Set the mixture aside until it is cool enough to handle. If you're in a hurry move it to a larger bowl or a tray for cooling.

Form the mixture into croquettes the size of golf balls. Place them 1 inch apart on the baking sheet and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Bake for 20 minutes.

Should make about 18-24? golf-ball sized croquettes, or if you prefer make 12-16? larger croquettes and fit them all on one tray.

Makes 4 main-dish servings if you have two sides.


Sauté together in cast iron frying pan: Pour vegetable mixture onto: Moisten bread with: Mix in: (add these to vegetables while cooking?) Return mixture to same greased cast iron pan.
Bake at ? degrees for ? minutes.

Baked Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes

Seven ounce Russett potatoes, up to 6:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place potatoes on middle rack of oven, and bake 75 minutes. Romove from oven and pierce with a fork to create a dotted "X." Press in at ends of potato to push flesh up and out. To get a fluffy potato it's very important to open it wide when it's hot and let the steam escape, rather than being trapped in the potato.

Medium sweet potatoes, up to 6:

Wash and dry the sweet potatoes, then lightly prick with a fork in 3 places. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange potatoes on foil-lined baking sheet (to catch any drips) as far apart as possible. Bake until knife tip slips easily into potato center, 40 to 50 minutes. Slit each potato lengthwise; using kitchen towel, hold ends and squeeze together slightly until soft flesh mounds up. Season to taste with salt and plenty of pepper. Dot with butter to taste and serve. Note, this cooking time applies to the orange-fleshed varieties of sweet potatoes; drier white-fleshed types take longer to bake and require larger amounts of fat and/or liquid to counteract their drier texture.

Mashed sweet potatoes:

Bake 2 lbs. sweet potatoes (about 2 medium) until done. Peel, then mash flesh with salt, 1 Tbs. butter, orange zest from one orange, 1 Tbs. brown sugar (or orange concentrate?), vanilla?, spices? For a thicker texture keep on low in oven for a while?

Stuffed Hashbrowns

I was always asking my mom to make me "hashbrowns" when I was a kid. Sometimes it would just be a simple paper-thin pancake of grated, lightly fried potatoes, but more often the pancake would be filled with steamed vegetables and folded in half like an omelet. I could never get enough, and neither could any of my siblings. This dish is very fast and easy to make, but takes a bit of experimentation to get the right temperature and timing. Every stove and pan are different, and it's a fine line between undercooked potatoes and mushy, overcooked ones. Using Russet potatoes is important, as the more watery ones tend not to fry up as nicely.

Heat large skillet on high.
Add, spreading potatoes evenly in pan and sprinkling on salt:
Reduce heat to medium high and cook for 2-3 minutes or until browned. Flip, and add: When bottom begins to brown, fold in half like an omelet and serve.

Crusty Oven Fries

Oven fries are basically nice fat, well-seasoned french fries, without tons of oil. This recipe from the AMA cookbook gives the trick to getting very crispy fries: the starch must be rinsed off, and the potatoes dried thoroughly before baking.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and position a rack in the upper level of the oven. Lighly coat a rimmed baking sheet with oil spray.
Wash: Cut each potato lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick slices; stack the slices and cut into 1/2-inch wide strips. Place the potatoes in a colander, run them under cold water to rinse off some of the starch, and pat them dry on several layers of paper towels. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine:

Greek-Style Garlic-Lemon Potatoes

Serving size:
Servings: 4

Based on a recipe in Cook's Illustrated May 2002. The addition of raw garlic and fresh oregano give these potatoes a full flavor with plenty of bite. The zest is a must. With just lemon juice and no zest the potatoes taste sharp, shallow, and acidic.

Perhaps cut potatoes thinner (10 rather than 8 slices per potato?) Only 3 potatoes fit in large skillet. 1.5 Tbs. was just fine. Cook on *low*.

If your potatoes are larger than the size we recommend, you may have to increase the covered cooking time by up to 4 minutes. Though a nonstick pan makes cleanup easier, it is not essential. Heat in a heavy-bottomed 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until butter melts and foaming subsides, swirling pan occasionally:

Add in a single layer Cook until golden brown (pan should sizzle but not smoke), about 6 minutes. Using tongs, turn potatoes so second cut sides are down; cook until deep golden brown on second side, about 5 minutes longer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover tightly, and cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with tip of paring knife, about 5 minutes. While potatoes cook, combine in a small bowl: When potatoes are tender, add garlic-lemon mixture; stir carefully (so as not to break potato wedges) to distribute. Cook, uncovered, until seasoning mixture is heated through and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle potatoes with Stir gently to distribute; serve immediately.

Variation 1: GREEK-STYLE GARLIC-LEMON POTATOES WITH SPINACH Follow recipe for Greek-Style Garlic-Lemon Potatoes, after stirring garlic-lemon mixture add 2 1/2 ounces clean baby spinach leaves (about 3 cups), and gently stir mixture again to distribute. Omit parsley.

Variation 2: SPICY GREEK-STYLE GARLIC-LEMON POTATOES In keeping with the bold flavors of the dish, this variation is very spicy. Follow recipe for Greek-Style Garlic-Lemon Potatoes, adding 2 small jalapeño chiles, cut into 1/4-inch slices (with seeds and membranes), to pan just before covering skillet in step 1.

Mashed Potatoes

For light, fluffy, slightly mealy mashed potatoes, use a high-starch variety, such as the Russet (i.e., Idaho potatoes). For smooth and creamy mashed potatoes, use a high-moisture variety such as Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold.

Bring ? cups water (and some salt) to a boil.

Wash, peel, and cut up ? lbs of potatoes.

When making mashed potatoes, the first thing you should do is put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Then, fill a big bowl partway with cold water and place it on your work surface. As you peel each potato, place it in the bowl of cold water to prevent it from turning brown while you peel the rest. For the best results, cut the potatoes into cubes of about 3/4 inch (2 cm) square. If you cut them much bigger than this, the middle won't cook before the outside is overdone, and if you cut them much smaller than this, they will lose lots of nutrients and flavor in the water. As soon as that pot of water reaches a boil, salt it generously, drain the cold water from your bowl of cubed potatoes, and dump them in the pot.

Keep an eye on the potatoes. Do not allow the water to boil rapidly-it should not be much hotter than 180 degrees F, which means that the water should be at a heavy simmer, not a rolling boil. You should begin checking them for doneness after about 15 minutes. They should not be falling apart, but should be very soft. Don't drain them prematurely, but have the colander ready as soon as they are soft and tender all the way through.

Mash the potatoes while they're still hot. The best thing to use is a potato ricer, and the next best thing is a food mill. These two gadgets work so well because the potatoes achieve a uniform texture as they pass through evenly sized holes, and they get smashed only once. With this method, the cell walls are much less likely to break open. A traditional hand-held potato masher works passably. And unless you like your potatoes the consistency of wallpaper paste, never, ever try to mash them in a food processor.
Add for flavoring and texture:

what if they get cold, how reheat?

Spicy Indian Potatoes

Heat in large, heavy wok: When hot add: When popping starts dying off, stir in: Add, and stir until coated: Add: Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, adding more water as nedded.

Hungarian Cabbage Noodles

Serves 4.
Sauté for about 15 minutes: Add and cook until noodles hot:

Pasta Primavera

Also look at AMA recipe with mustard.

Serves 6-8.
Make 1 lb. of pasta (linguine?)
Melt 3 Tbl. of oil in a heavy pan.
Put in: Heat briefly. Sprinkle on 1/3 cup flour. Mix well. Add 3 cups of mild, gradually stirring while sauce thickens. Stir in 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and leaves of basil.
Consider adding 1 Tbs. dijon mustard and 2 Tbs. soy mayonnaise?

Fusilli with Spinach Puree

This pestolike sauce is based on a recipe from Jack Bishop's Italian Vegetarian Cookbook. I like the bright green color and fresh flavor of this sauce. The ricotta or tofu adds creaminess and helps reduce the oil content so it's less greasy than typical pestos. It also has a nice, creamy, but pleasantly rough texture. The flavor is mild (perhaps even a bit on the bland side--perhaps a little lemon juice would be good?). If you don't have pine nuts you can substitute walnuts.

Yields: about 1.5? cups
Serving size: about 1/3 cup sauce and 2.5 ounces pasta
Servings: 4 as a main dish (needs a side as well)

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot for cooking

Combine in the work bowl of a food processor: Makes enough sauce for about 10? ounces of pasta. If your pasta is hot, just toss and serve. Otherwise, you can eat the sauce cold on the pasta but I prefer to briefly warm it in a small saucepan or the microwave first.

Cold Sesame Noodles

I love the cold sesame noodles at the local China Palace. This isn't quite the same, but it's rich and salty and complex all the same. Based on a recipe from Madhur Jeffrey's World of the East. The sauce is also tasty on cauliflower, ?, and other vegetables.

Cook, following instructions:

Drain the noodles, and put in a serving bowl. Let cool.

Mix together with a fork until you have a smooth paste:

When ready to serve, pour the sauce over the noodles. Place in a heap on top of the mound of noodles, and top with: Toss the noodles at the table before serving.

Pumpkin Lasagna with a Sage "Cream" Sauce

Pumpkin filling:

I used two medium butternut squashes, steamed then scraped and mashed. They were a bit stringy. After mashing there was about 2.5 pounds. I think perhaps three pounds would have been better. Next time I may just try using canned pumpkin puree. I seasoned with 4 Tbs brown sugar, 2 Tbs maple syrup, 1/4? tsp salt, black pepper, 1/4? tsp nutmeg, and 2.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice from penzey's. It wasn't bad, perhaps a bit to much cinnamon. Don't add butter to the squash since you had to add a lot before you can actually detect it. Save it for the cream sauce. This is a sage bechamel sauce. Make a roux then add the (warm?) milk whisking until uniform. Off heat--no need to thicken the sauce since it will thicken when the lasagna is cooked. Add in the minced sage and stir once.

Sage "cream" sauce

In a 8x10 baking pan I sprayed with pam I placed a layer of dry lasagna noodles, used a spatula to cover with a thin layer of pumpkin puree, ladled on about 2? cups of the bechamel sauce, then repeated. I only had two layers of noodle/pumpkin plus a top layer of noodles, but it was too thin. Definitely need three layers of noodle/pumpkin plus the top layer. I ladled the end of the white sauce on top and sprinkled with mixed italian grated cheeses. I used some kraft mix but I think the cheeses were too bland--stronger parmesan etc might have been better.

Cover the bottom of a 9x13? lasagna pan with lasagna noodles. Pour over some sauce. Spread a layer of pumpkin filling. Repeat process, ending with noodles and pour sauce over top.

Cover with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. Remove foil, increase heat to 500? and brown the cheese for 10 minutes.

The noodles cooked well, no need for no-bake noodles or pre-boiling the normal ones. The texture was good--cooking the squash puree to thicken it and eliminate some water help alot I think. Needed another layer, more white sauce, more sage, stronger cheese.

Perhaps missing something? Try adding hazelnuts?

Fine Pizza Crust

Yields: two 16" pizzas or (supposedly) four 8" pizzas
Serving size:

This recipe was given to me by my friend Dan Spoonhower. This is the pizza recipe from Fine Cooking, March 2002. It makes a light and stretchy dough that, when baked, becomes thin and crispy.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl.

While stirring the flour mixture, add the water-yeast in a steady stream. Add the oil and continue to mix.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead together into one mass. Continue to knead until the dough is smooth. It should be silky, not sticky to the touch.

Divide into the number of pizzas that you are making and form individual balls. Cover them with a clean dish towel and leave them in a warm place to rise, 45 minutes.

After rising, one at a time, place each ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and flatten into a cake about .5 inch think (flattening from the center out). Then, with both hands underneath the dough, stretch using your knuckles and the backs of your hands until the dough is .25 inch thick.

Add toppings.

The recipe says bake at 500 for 8 minutes. I usually bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, until the crust is golden.

Yields: 1 16 inch pizza
Serving size:

Here's a variant of that recipe that results in a thicker and a more bread-like crust. Here's the differences: Instead of "1.5 cups water," use ".75 cup milk and .5 cup water." Add .25 cup sugar to the water-yeast mixture, just before adding it to the flour. I also may use slightly less flour: I just add more until it becomes smooth.

Yields: 1 giant pizza crust
Serving size:

A whole wheat pizza crust recipe

Make dough in bread machine: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may place your toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it. Bake pizza in preheated oven, until the cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Real Pizza

After our first disastrous attempt to make pizza at home, Derek's mom bought us a pizza stone and peel. This was the first stepping stone on our way to marvelous, brick-oven style pizza at home. The next step was Peter Reinhart's book The Bread Baker's Apprentice, which insists that the more slowy the dough rises, the better the flavor and texture. The rest was experimentation on our part. What we've learned...

Making The Dough
Get directions from bread baking book:

Use less yeast than you normally would. One teaspoon(?) for four cups of flour is plenty. After the dough is formed into a cohesive ball, let it rise in a warm place for only a short amount of time (an hour?). Then let rest (and rise) in an oiled bowl in the the refridgerator for up to three nights, but at least one. The dough takes quite a while to warm up so remove from the fridge a few hours (3,4?) before you want to serve the pizza. When the dough is room temperature, shape into pizzas.

Shaping the Crust
We like to shape the dough on some lightly floured parchment paper, cut to the same size as our pizza stone. We also bake the pizza on this piece of parchment paper. This prevent us from dirtying another surface and makes it easy to move the pizza around (since we have a dearth of surfaces in our kitchen and only one peel). Since we haven't quite mastered the art of throwing the pizza around, I still sometimes resort to a rolling pin. I like to roll out the crust as large and thin as possible, then let it rise awhile for a thicker, chewier crust. If you bake the pizza immediately after shaping it will be thinner and crisper. If you let it rise for an hour (or more?) it will be thick and chewy. Just cover to prevent from drying out. The size and thickness of the crust when you put it in the oven will be very close to the size and thickness of what comes out. Because of this, I recommend shaping all the pizzas at once and letting them rise for a while before baking.

Topping the Pizza
The most important feature of toppings is their moisture content. High-moisture toppings like mushrooms can leave your pizza soggy instead of crisp. A light coat of olive oil (or non-stick oil spray), a brief saute of vegetables, and a thick, non-watery sauce can prevent a soggy pizza (test if these steps are really necessary). Our favorite toppings:

Don't put too many toppings on any one pizza. Simpler is better.

Intense heat is what you want. Put the baking stove on the bottom(?) rack, take out the top rack, and turn your oven to 500 degrees. Let it preheat for 30 minutes to an hour. You need the stone to get to 500 degrees as well as the air in the oven. Use your peel to place the pizza (and the parchment paper) on the baking stone. The parchment paper will start to brown where it is not covered by pizza, and if this bothers you you can trim it before placing it in the oven. Note that wax paper is not the same as parchment paper, and cannot be used in a 500 degree oven. We previously tried putting the pizza directly on the baking stone, with cornmeal on the bottom to prevent it from sticking to the peel, but the cornmeal tends to burn in the hot oven and creates lots of smoke and lots of mess. If you're just making one pizza and going to turn the oven off immediately afterwards, the cornmeal will probably work, but otherwise the parchment paper is a huge improvement. The pizza should be done in about 12(?) minutes, when the crust starts to brown and the cheese starts to get flecked with brown. Use your peel to remove the pizza from the oven. Slice it (on what!!!) (scissors work well if you don't have a pizza cutter), sprinkle on any last minute toppings (like fresh herbs) and enjoy. Let the oven heat up again for at least 15(?) minutes before baking another pizza.

I've found that each cup of flour makes approximately 5 pieces of pizza (check this), and four pieces is usually very filling for one person. So I recommend 3.25 cups of flour to serve four people, but you can use more if you are serving teenage boys or less if you have a salad and dessert as well. This amount of flour will make two large (inches?) or three small (inches?) pizzas.

You'll need about 12(?) ounces grated mozarella and 2 1/3 (?) cups tomato sauce to cover this amount of pizza. Obviously if you're making a pesto or margharita pizza, you'll use less sauce and cheese.

Southwestern Pizza

This is an attempt to emulate my favorite pizza in Pittsburgh: the southwestern pizza at the Church Brew Works, a local pub and brewery located in an old church, with the original stained glass windows and organ, but the distillery(?) on the altar and a brick oven off to the side. Some may call this sacreligious, but all I can say is that their southwestern pizza is heavenly.

The basic directions are the same as the basic pizza recipe above. For a third(?) of the 3.25 cups flour, use the following sauce and toppings...

Mix together for sauce: