My husband and I have been making homemade pizza for years and now that we have kids, it’s even more fun and exciting. It’s something we love to do, along with making homemade mozzarella. When we decide to have a pizza night, we break out the pizza stone, fire up the oven to 500 degrees and do it up right with only the freshest ingredients. Everyone gets involved and has a blast creating different pies. It’s an activity as much as it is a meal so we usually reserve “pizza nights” for Friday’s or the weekend when we have time to cook leisurely and clean up the mess that undoubtedly comes when children mix with flour.
Recently I found myself in a homemade pizza mood mid-week but I was alone with the kids and definitely didn’t have the time or energy for a pizza making party. I wanted to keep things simple and relatively mess free so I decided to make a pan pizza instead of our usual thin crust/stone baked one. When making a margarita-style pan pizza, I like to add a deeper flavor to it by slathering the dough with a layer of tomato paste before topping with sauce and cheese. Tomato paste adds a deeper, slightly richer tomato flavor to the pie and really makes it a little different. Most people can’t pinpoint my “trick” but they know there’s something special about my pan pizza and now you know the secret too.
Pan pizza or “Sicillian” pizza (as we call it in Brooklyn) is made in a pan rather than on a stone and therefore has a thicker , heartier crust. It’s as equally delicious as a thin crust but in my opinion, much less fussy to make. You simply take store bought dough and press it into a greased 18″ x 13″ x 1″ (half sheet) pan, top it and bake it and in 15 minutes (or less) you have yourself a piping hot pie that’s bubbling with cheesy goodness. It’s easy clean up because, if your dough is properly rested, you don’t need to roll or toss the dough to form it, simply press it to fit the pan and your done! This is also a great way to feed a lot of people because it comes together in minutes and you can make two half sheet pans of pizza in the same time as it takes to make one. Make two different types (maybe one sweet and one savory?), cut them into smaller squares and you have yourself lunch for a crowd or a bunch delicious appetizers.
Easy Pan Pizza
1 store bought pizza dough, well rested
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup marinara sauce
8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 18″ x 13″ x 1″ (half sheet) pan with cooking spray. Press the dough into the pan until it covers the entire pan evenly.
Spread tomato paste over the dough evenly, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge of the entire pizza.
Top with sauce and cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until crust is lightly golden. Cool slightly in the pan before cutting. Enjoy!