Cook up the perfect pizza for a delicious dinner anytime

Speck and Arugula pizza. Courtesy photo
Speck and Arugula pizza. Courtesy photo

Families cooking together, sharing recipes and enjoying each others company is the exception rather than the norm in America today.

I know when the children hit the kitchen, the mess to clean up is considerably larger, but let me tell you, there is nothing more fulfilling then hearing their giggles and laughter and banter that goes back and forth as they each work to create their own pie.

A side benefit of cooking as a family according to www.webmd.com is cooking with your children can help get them interested in trying healthy foods they might normally turn their noses up at. Other benefits include having structured times for family meals, offering healthier, low-calorie foods and building their self-esteem.

Research shows that children are more likely to sit down to a family meal when they helped prepare it and they aren’t spending time in front of the TV or computer while they’re cooking.

Long-term benefits of cooking with the family include learning a much-needed skill in cooking and one of my favorites, children who cook with their parents are less likely to abuse drugs. According to The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University “parents get many opportunities to compliment and support their children while they’re in the kitchen together. How important is this? Parental praise, affection, acceptance and family bonding – as perceived by children – are all associated with a reduced risk of substance use.”

Research shows that children are more likely to sit down to a family meal when they help prepare it. As a side benefit, they aren’t spending time in front of the TV or computer while they’re cooking or eating together as a family. Courtesy photo
Research shows that children are more likely to sit down to a family meal when they help prepare it. As a side benefit, they aren’t spending time in front of the TV or computer while they’re cooking or eating together as a family. Courtesy photo

When my kids were younger we would do a weekly pizza night, breaking out everything from the classic pepperoni and cheese to the makings for a mouthwatering Chicken Margherita pie that my kids happily gobble down every time. Now that the kids are grown, we still take the time to get together and have our family pizza nights, but as taste buds have changed, so have the recipes.

No matter how you slice it, make sure you have a good variety of fresh meats, vegetables and other toppings on hand and let the little ones go to town when they create their very own culinary delight. I recommend pre-slicing all the fruits (yes, fruits) and vegetables in advance.

Next up on our list of recipes to try is this delicious sounding Speck and Arugula Pizza recipe I found online at www.blackkassel.com. The dough recipe is almost identical to mine, but the topping sounds oh, so delicious.

Speck and Arugula Pizza

Serves: 4

Pizza Topping:

  • Flour, for dusting
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup partly skimmed ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 4 slices Black Kassel Speck, cut in half lengthwise

Pizza Dough:

  • 1 and 3/4 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake and pastry flour
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons instant or bread-machine dry yeast (or 1 envelope)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cup very warm water
Having a variety of vegetables, meats and a variety of toppings for children to choose from allows them to taste foods they might normally avoid.  Courtesy photo
Having a variety of vegetables, meats and a variety of toppings for children to choose from allows them to taste foods they might normally avoid. Courtesy photo

Directions:

1. To make pizza dough, stir together all-purpose flour, cake flour, yeast and salt in a mixer fitted with a dough hook; make a well in the center. Add water. Mix on medium speed until all flour is incorporated into dough; add remaining flour as needed to have soft, slightly sticky dough. Alternatively, you can mix by hand. Turn out on a well-floured surface. Let rest covered for 10 minutes. Divide into thirds.

2. Place a pizza stone or upside-down baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 450 F. Gently flatten dough into a circle or rectangle on a lightly floured surface, creating a rim. Transfer to a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel or another upside-down baking sheet; slide dough onto the hot pizza stone or baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil in a bowl with garlic, rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Remove pizza from oven. Brush with olive oil mixture and top with ricotta and mozzarella. Return pizza to oven, baking until cheese is golden and bubbly, about 6 more minutes.

4. Toss arugula and shallot slices in a large bowl with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Top the pizza with arugula salad, speck and shaved Parmesan cheese.

5. Cut into wedges or squares with scissors; serve immediately.

Tip: As an alternative to speck, you can try Black Kassel Old Forest, Picante or Mustard Seed salami. You can also buy store-made pizza dough and simply layer on the toppings.

Find more recipes at www.blackkassel.com.

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