No Need to Knead: Homemade Herbed Turkey & Vegetable Pizza

Whenever my dad tastes a loaf of bread that is particularly fresh and delicious, he is sure to say, “Whoever said ‘man cannot live on bread alone’ was clearly mistaken.” They haven’t yet uncovered the Carboholic gene, but without a shred of doubt, I have inherited my infatuation with bread and carbohydrates from him. I’m careful  now, or at least more careful than I was before finding out my triglycerides were a little funky, but I will still ultimately hand my heart over to anyone with a warm baguette who’s willing to share.  Melt some cheese on it and add some toppings, and you’ll never get me to leave.

Pizza is one of my absolute favorite foods – but not just any old pizza. Sure, Mack n Manco’s is a staple during my annual summer trips to Ocean City NJ, and I ate so much Eliot’s pizza as a kid I’m surprised I didn’t turn into a frozen slab of it myself, but what I really go nuts over is the earthier, artisan-type pizzas, the ones that are more akin to a fancied up flatbread than a pizzeria-produced pie. And, by true Floptimist nature, I just had to learn how to make one myself.

Right now, I’m sitting at my desk, beside my bedroom’s sole window, and even beyond the crowd of trees that usually shades my room, I can tell the sun is hiding. It feels like rain has already come and gone, though the weather report claims it is still on its way, and it has brought the recent heat-wave, at least temporarily, to a halt. I wore a sweater earlier to walk outside briefly, and came back into the apartment, warm from the oven cranked up to 450 as my best-yet pizza attempt sat inside, turning golden-brown and melty. Today was a perfect day for pizza.

Yes, I think I’ve done it – or, more realistically, I think Jim Lahey and Dinner with Julie have done it, since I can take no credit for this recipe. I was skeptical that a pizza dough made with minimal handling – a dough that formed by literally just sitting on your counter for a day – would really be that incredible, but its level of ease combined with my wanting to spend as much time with L while he was visiting as possible made me decide to give it a try. We whipped up the dough in a couple of minutes flat yesterday afternoon, then stuck it loosely covered on top of the fridge and nearly forgot about it until today.

What came out of my oven just a few hours ago was a beautiful, beautiful pizza. The crust was a deep brown and had developed a crunchy exterior without losing its soft, doughy interior – which was perfectly spotted with holes, by the way. It tasted hearty, though a little plain, and I cannot wait to take it to the next level next time by adding in herbs and spices, and potentially brushing the top with olive oil. It’s not perfect as is – at least not for a crust kind of girl like myself. L could take it or leave it, generally eating the pizza up to the crust and then feeding the rest to his pup, but I love a good crust all on its own – and this one does need some work, but I’m okay with that. You see, with a texture as spot-on as this one without requiring much effort at all to throw it together? It’s not even a question – this pizza dough will absolutely be showing up on my menu again. And again. And again…

One Year Ago: Spring Vegetable Pizza
Homemade Herbed Turkey, Mushroom & Green Pepper Pizza
Yield: 4 servings

The Ingredients
½ - ¾ cup red sauce
¼ pound ground turkey breast
Dried oregano, basil, garlic powder & cumin, to taste
4 ounces sliced mushrooms
½ green bell pepper, diced
¾ - 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

The Method
One day in advance, prepare the pizza dough. The next day, turn the dough over itself a few times on a floured surface before spreading it onto a pizza stone or well-greased, rimmed baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and let the dough rest on the sheet while you prepare the toppings.

Mix the ground turkey with the herbs and spices, then add to a lightly greased skillet. Cook over medium heat, breaking up the turkey until very little pink is left. Add the mushrooms, and sauté the two ingredients until the mushrooms have cooked and the turkey has browned nicely. Set aside.

Spread the sauce over the dough, leaving a ½” or so border for the crust. Sprinkle the peppers, mushrooms and turkey evenly over the surface of the dough and top with the cheese. Bake for 20-30 minutes, removing when the crust is golden-brown and no longer soft to the touch, and the cheese has melted and is bubbly.

*I used white whole wheat flour and a scant 1 teaspoon of salt, but aside from that followed Julie’s recipe to a T.

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