Pizza Night

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Teaching vegetarian cooking classes at the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-Op, is definitely one of my favorite things to do. The employees are happy, friendly and helpful. The students that register are eager to learn, eager to share and overall happy, positive people. I always leave having learned something from them and with a happy heart.

Tonight we made “Gourmet Vegetarian Pizzas.” We used the below recipes for our whole wheat crust and pizza sauce.

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Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

•    1 teaspoon white sugar
•    1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
•    1 tablespoon active dry yeast
•    1 tablespoon olive oil
•    1 teaspoon salt
•    2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Cornmeal to sprinkle pizza pans.

Directions
In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.
Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining all-purpose flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Form into a tight ball. Let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further. Then, drape it over both of your fists, and gently pull the edges outward, while rotating the crust. When the circle has reached the desired size, place on a well oiled pizza pan that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.
Bake for 16 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness) in the preheated oven, until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges, and cheese is melted on the top

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Basic Pizza Sauce
Recipe courtesy Don Pintabona, Food Network
Yield:
about 3 cups, or enough for 2
Ingredients
•    1 can (28-ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, in juice
•    1 small white or sweet onion, finely diced and minced
•    1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
•    3 to 4 fresh basil leaves
•    1 teaspoon dried oregano
•    Pinch salt
•    Pinch fresh ground black pepper
•    Pinch sugar, optional
•    2 tablespoons olive oil, to saute
Directions
Empty the contents of the tomato can in a mixing bowl and coarsely crush the tomatoes with a fork or your hands, leaving them just a little chunky. In a heavy bottom 2-quart sauce-pot, add the olive oil, over a medium high flame and heat a little. Add the onions and saute until slightly translucent. Add the garlic and saute about a minute until golden. Quickly add the crushed tomatoes to the mix. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and add the fresh basil and oregano. You can add a touch of sugar (I always add a bit of sugar! ). Simmer on a low flame, stirring often for at least 15 minutes.
*I did add one step to this. I found that I made a better sauce by pouring the tomato mixture into the food processor for  a few seconds. I highly recommend doing this too!
If not using right away, cool down and store in airtight container in the refrigerator, up to 1 week.

We created a Mediterranean Pizza with the below toppings and pizza sauce

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-Pizza sauce
-4 oz. Feta Cheese
-black olives (kalamata are the best!)
-roasted red peppers
-red onions
-Italian cheese blend

We created a Spinach Goat Cheese with the below toppings. We did not  use the pizza sauce on this one.

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-pesto sauce
-Kale/spinach mix
-goat cheese
-Italian cheese blend
-drizzled with olive oil

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We created a Margarita Pizza with these toppings.

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-pizza sauce
-buffalo mozzarella
-fresh basil
-fresh tomatoes
-Italian cheese blend

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Our final pizza we created impromptu this evening. One of the students brought in a large bowl of fresh figs from her fig tree as a special treat. (See, I told you this is such a nice place!) We decided to use the fresh figs on our final pizza.

We used these toppings:

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-no sauce
-goat cheese
-fresh figs
-kale/spinach mix
-Italian cheese blend
-drizzled with olive oil

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*we did make half of this pie with sauce and the Italian cheese blend.

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You can make so many variations. Please share with us some of your favorite toppings!

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American wife to this Indian life. I am a right-brained, American woman married to a left-brained Indian man. I love art, design, up-cycling and multiple DIY projects at the same time. He loves simplicity and order. Follow us on this cultural collision as I combine our personalities and cultural differences through art, design, food, and raising kids. When I am not working on a craft or project, I co-host a lifestyle/entertainment show called "Daytime Blue Ridge," on our local NBC affiliate, WSLS 10. www.DaytimeBlueRidge.com

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