(1) Ready-to-bake Pizza Crust

3-5 cloves minced garlic (or 5 cloves roasted garlic).

(1) cup shredded Mozzarrella cheese

(1) 4 oz. container goat cheese

(1 ½ ) cups sun dried tomatoes (oil packed, julienned work best) *

Diced Italian parsley for garnish

Optional: Italian seasoning, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, Prosciutto, Pancetta
Prepare uncooked pizza crust to package instructions (usually meaning unroll, place on greased cookie sheet and cook at 400º for six minutes or until crust browns slightly)

When crust begins to brown, remove from oven and add the following toppings in order:

Minced garlic (or spread the paste made from roasted garlic cloves and olive oil)

Mozzarrella cheese

Sun dried tomatoes

Goat cheese

Any optional ingredients

When all toppings are on pizza, put back in oven at 400º until all cheese is melted and outer crust is brown, about 10-12 minutes.

Remove pizza from oven and top with diced Italian parsley.

* Alternatively, you could use thin slices of good quality, vine ripened tomatoes in place of sun-dried.

Twelve nights ago I had a dream involving pizza. This happens to me a lot.At bedtime, rather than falling asleep thinking about what I didn’t get done the past twenty-four hours, I fall asleep planning meals for the following day. It’s my happy place – thinking of all the meals I can make with that shrimp stock I made from the leftover shells, deciding if pine nuts or macadamia nuts would make a better chicken breading paired with the day old bread headed for my Cuisinart. After every long day, I drift into a long-awaited slumber with an anticipatory smile on my face, awaiting my next chance to get my hands dirty in the kitchen, to create dishes that will bring smiles to the faces of those seated at the table. Yes, I dream of meals, banquets, feasts – as if to tell any possible nightmares that they don’t taste good enough to take up residence in my mind or home.

The other night at bedtime, I must have been thinking about a cornmeal dusted, fennel-seed crusted pizza, glued to itself with mounds of cheese, a silky tomato sauce peeking from under the cover of Mozzarrella, and my favorite toppings resting on the throne of this masterful food, eaten in one form or another for thousands of years.

Pizza. You say it and suddenly, a culinary solution graces celebrations, busy evenings, or brainstorming sessions. It’s also a very subjective food – for me, once I hear someone call it a pie, I must have some. With my favorite toppings (what are yours?). Preferred pizza toppings give insight into regions of origin, childhood memories, and probably, what night of the week it is. Some nights I pick up the phone and order a pie from the closest Mom & Pop Italian restaurant, but other nights, I roll off the day as I roll out the dough.

Now, I know the California-style pizza (read: anything goes) I am used to has not made it to every town in America. I mentioned to a friend across country that my sentimentally favorite pizza was comprised of sweet chunks of pineapple and salty, flat Canadian bacon, known in these parts as the “Hawaiian”. My friend had never heard of the “Hawaiian”. However, she lives in Vermont, and the revolutionary pizza chain California Pizza Kitchen hasn’t gone north of Massachusetts. I understand the quandary.

It was then that I decided to confront the dilemma facing much of America – we’re stuck in PepperoniLand. Make no mistake, the traditional pepperoni pizza has a circle shaped place in my heart, but why not branch out – for fun, for nutrition, for an easy dish to get our kids familiar with cooking, and because markets have never had such variety?

Pizza dough is a canvas waiting to be drawn upon. My kids began rolling pizza dough onto a pizza stone since Kindergarten. Taking turns rolling, spreading garlic with the back of a spatula, placing vegetable slices in hearts, shapes or faces onto the dough, we accomplished more than dinner. We did more than simply eat.

Pizza fans – you, me and everyone else I know – we’re all from families trying to figure out how to eat wisely, be together at the same time, and fit healthy choices in between what tastes the best. Our motto for pizza is simple – pile it high, and bring it on.

I encourage you to design your own pie. Take your favorite toppings and give it a try! Don’t be limited by tomato sauce or meat in casings. I’m going to give you one of my recipes for a distinctive pie, devoid of pizza sauce, pepperoni or sausage, endorsing flavorful, albeit non- traditional toppings. I haven’t used pizza sauce to make a homemade pizza yet, rather, I spread on minced garlic or make a paste of roasted garlic cloves and a few drops of extra virgin olive oil. Fresh or sun-dried tomatoes provide the pizza with an authentic, common-denominator taste.


Smantha Gianulis

Samantha recently released my her family food memoir, Little Grapes on the Vine…Mommy's Musings on Food & Family .

Samantha is a self-taught chef. She worked in the Catering and Special Events industry for seven years before becoming a stay at home, now a work at home, Mom.
She appeared on NBC's ivillage Live.

Smantha Gianulis

Latest posts by Smantha Gianulis (see all) GianulisApron Strings Cooking ColumnHome CookingCooking and RecipesRecipeIngredients:(1) Ready-to-bake Pizza Crust3-5 cloves minced garlic (or 5 cloves roasted garlic).(1) cup shredded Mozzarrella cheese(1) 4 oz. container goat cheese(1 ½ ) cups sun dried tomatoes (oil packed, julienned work best) *Diced Italian parsley for garnishOptional: Italian seasoning, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, Prosciutto, PancettaPrepare uncooked pizza crust to...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids