When I was in 7th grade, I learned how to make pizza dough in a class called Home & Careers, which was basically the evolution of our parents’ generation’s Home-Ec class. I remember bringing home the recipe, which was written on a piece of notebook paper and had tomato sauce stains all over it. I couldn’t wait to try it out in my mom’s kitchen, to make use of her mixing bowls and measuring cups, rolling pin and cookie sheet. My little brother and I made pizza from scratch at home, and it was a hit. It was probably the first time I made a full dinner and felt proud of it. Thereafter, from time to time, my brother and I would whip out that piece of paper and cook pizza for my parents. We began to get creative with it, adding different toppings according to our personal tastes…pineapple for me, pepperoni for him, mushrooms for my dad, spinach for my mom. Soon, we discovered that the dough could be used for other things – calzones, dessert pizza, garlic knots, pretzels. It was the most versatile recipe in the world, and probably the most simple, given to me by my Home & Careers teacher, whose name I cannot recall.
Somewhere along the line, we lost the recipe, or forgot about it, and we slowly stopped making pizza. From time to time, we’d say to each other, “Hey, remember when we used to make pizza dough? That was fun. We should do that again.” But, for one reason or another, we never did. In retrospect, I suppose we could have cooked from memory…we didn’t need that tomato-stained paper.
Luckily, my culinary inspiration didn’t die out entirely, and nowadays, pizza is one of my favorite things to make. Photog-boyf and I make one hell of a mega-pizza, and if I showed you a picture of it, you probably wouldn’t believe that the two of us manage to eat the entire thing in one sitting, but we usually do. To be honest, I prefer the pizza that we make at home to any store-bought pie. And for as obscenely large and overflowing as our pizza creations are, I never have to press a napkin to it to wipe off the grease. Nothing kills a pizza-buzz like the grease napkin.
Additionally, pizza is one of the easiest meals to adapt for both vegetarians and omnis alike. Nothing is as simple as creating an invisible line between pepperoni and peppers, sausage and spinach, meatballs and mushrooms. Hello, compromise.
I took this split-pizza idea one step further and made mini pizzas the other night. I must admit that part of the reasoning behind this dish has to do with the fact that the last time I tried to make pizza, by rolling out dough and spreading it on a pizza stone, I totally butchered it. Really, it was unsalvageable. I decided to play it safe and create fresh-tasting mini pizzas atop store-bought naan bread.
Naan bread, or South Asian leavened/oven-baked flatbread, is super versatile and great to use as a base for mini pizzas. I chose to use an organic wheat kind, but any kind will do. Here is the rcipe…
Mini Naan Pizzas
You will need…
- 2 pieces of naan bread
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- salt, pepper to taste
- 1 cup tomato sauce (preferably homemade)
- handful of fresh spinach, washed and dried
- 3 small bocconcini balls, or fresh mozzarella balls, shredded into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup pepperoni
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
- parmesan cheese, for topping
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush the naan with 1 tbsp of olive oil per piece. Then, rub spices into the bread, dividing the portions between each piece. Bake the naan in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, until heated through and slightly golden.
- Remove naan from oven. Spoon the tomato sauce on each piece, dividing equally between the two. Lay spinach atop the sauce on both pieces, followed by the bocconcini or mozzarella. Next, sprinkle the onion, pepper, and sundried tomato on each piece. Lay the pepperoni on one of the pieces.
- Bake the pizzas for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted and edges are starting to get crispy. Let the pizzas sit under the broiler for 45 seconds – 1 minute, but watch carefully so it doesn’t burn. Remove pizzas from oven, sprinkle with fresh basil and parmesan. Enjoy!!
Oh, pizza. I’d say that you can never go wrong with pizza, but then I remember the stone disaster of 2010. My 12-year-old self would not be proud.