Pizza with Ricotta, Tomatoes, and Basil

I’ve always enjoyed making pizzas at home. When I was younger, my parents used to buy the Pillsbury pizza dough that you roll out of the can. Pour on some sauce, add cheese, maybe a little pepperoni, and you’re good to go.

I have this one fond memory, however, of making pizza with my dad. My mom must have been out for the afternoon, because we decided to make dinner. By “we” I mean my dad threw something together and I was probably just watching. I must have been 5 or 6. Dad pulled out the good ol’ Pillsbury pizza dough and then stood there looking at it for a few minutes. He was clearly baffled as to what he should do next. Out came the rolling pin. Maybe he was supposed to roll it out?No. Even at 5 years old (ok, maybe I was 7 or 8, I don’t remember) I could see that the nice folks at Pillsbury tried to make this as easy as possible. All you had to do was unroll the dough; it was ready to use. I tried to show my dad that he was doing it all wrong. It took a while, but I believe we eventually rescued the pizza dough from its near-fatal disaster. Ever since, my parents laugh and recall how my dad screwed up the store-ready pizza dough. Good thing I was there to save the day!

Now I make pizzas all the time. They’re affordable and much healthier than ordering from your favorite pizzeria. This might not be the gooiest, cheesiest pizza you’ve ever had, but when it’s Sunday evening, you don’t feel like going to the store, and the goal is to use up whatever’s in your fridge, it’ll do just fine.

To make your own pizza sauce, you’ll need:

Directions
Place all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings per your own taste.

Easy, right? This recipe makes about two cups of sauce. Whatever I don’t use the night of, I freeze.

Speaking of freezing, making extra pizza dough, pie crusts, etc. is a great way to save time in the future. I normally make enough dough for two or three pizzas, take what I want, and save the rest for a rainy day. Just pop each round of dough into individual containers or Ziploc bags and store in the freezer until you’re ready to use. To defrost, move dough from the freezer to your refrigerator the night before use.

On this particular night, I felt like keeping things simple. Like I said earlier, pizzas are a great way to use up ingredients in your fridge. As it just so happens, I had some pizza sauce, ricotta cheese, tomatoes, and fresh basil. I always have a few fresh herbs on hand. Currently, we’ve got chives, basil, thyme, and sage (my absolute favorite). I’ve got something working in my oven right now that will eventually get some sage added to it and I cannot wait to share that recipe with you!

To make this simple, lazy-night pizza, you’ll need:

Directions
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. If you’ve got a pizza stone, place it in the oven while preheating, and keep it in there for about an hour. You want this nice and hot so as soon as you place your pizza on it, the bottom begins to crisp up.

Roll out your pizza dough to your desired shape and thickness. For me, the thinner, the better. I had previously sectioned out my dough into smaller portions than I thought, so we ended up with a baby pizza. If you’re making a large pizza (which I’m all for), you’ll probably want to increase the amount of ingredients used, as well. Just eye ball it.

Next, pour the pizza sauce on the dough. Using the back of a large spoon, spread the sauce out until it covers the pizza, making sure to leave ½ an inch or so around the edge.

Sprinkle on your chopped garlic, dollop on the ricotta cheese, and lay out your sliced tomatoes. Looking back at this, I definitely should’ve added more cheese. Maybe some fresh mozzarella? Some parmesan? Do the right thing and use more cheese than I did.

Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, depending on how crispy you like it.

To make it even more delicious, add your chopped basil, sprinkle a little salt, and drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil. Slice. Eat. Enjoy.

I like this pizza. It’s comfortable, it’s low-calorie, and it’s really quite simple to make. Do I like this more than the roasted veggie pesto pizza I frequently make? No. Is it more delicious than the prosciutto, gorgonzola, and fig pizza I made a week or two ago? Definitely not. But it was light and meant I could have dessert at the end of the evening.

Moral of the story? Use more cheese.

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