I’ve probably mentioned that one of my absolute favorite things to eat is pizza. If I really HAVE to pick a favorite food, that would be it. You can do so much with it and it just tastes SO good. I mean, do I really need to explain why I love pizza? No, I didn’t think so.
Now quite some time ago (although it was recent when I first started this post in early January), we’ve had two occasions of pizza-making gatherings at my apartment. The first time, I bought some ready-made Pillsbury pizza dough, the kind the comes in those tubes you have to break open.
There were two cans of dough. “Cans of dough” seems like quite a strange thing to say, don’t you think? Oh well. So, two pizzas for four people. I can’t remember if there were leftovers but considering the amount of toppings we added, there was definitely plenty to eat that night. There was chicken, chorizo, avocado, mushrooms, broccoli, cheese of course, and probably quite a few other things that I’ve forgotten by now.
Since one of our number was vegetarian, we made sure there were several sections without meat as we got creative with our topping combinations. As I said at the time (or something like it), one of the perks of making pizza at home is that you can do really interesting things with the toppings that would probably take fifteen minutes to fully explain if you were placing an order.
(The kitchen light was highly uncooperative, as is my camera, so unfortunately the pictures aren’t very good.)
The instructions say to pre-bake the crusts a little. We did not do this, but we were still satisfied with the end result. For my tastes, this crust does not make the optimal pizza. It tastes almost exactly like the crescent roll dough, which is great for crescent rolls, but not the right base for pizza in my opinion. I will be much more likely in the future to buy the pizzeria-style dough that you can usually find somewhere near the deli section when I buy premade dough again. However, this Pillsbury option would be a good choice if you wanted it to be a little faster. You don’t have to let it sit out at room temperature or spend time flattening it out–just unroll and go. In that, at least, the doughboy has the advantage.
The second pizza-making occurrence yielded a much more delicious result. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have any pictures–or if I do, I can’t find them. That time, one of my roommates made challah dough and we used that for the crust. That can result in a very thick crust unless someone wants to spend ages rolling it out, so if you like thin crust this might not be the way to achieve it. However, it tasted incredible. I can’t remember what we put on it anymore, but it doesn’t matter, because I remember that it was wonderful. And the lesson is to live with someone who likes making bread.
Buying fresh herbs kind of sucks–because they always sell you more than you can use, and then all that goodness goes to waste! The last time I bought cilantro, half of it turned into rotting mush in the bag before I got a chance to make the thing I’d been planning to make with it.
But sometimes I just really want to buy they anyway. There’s a small produce store in Brighton Center that generally has really good stuff at good prices, so I like to go there sometimes so I’ll have good fresh fruits and vegetables. They sell fresh basil and cilantro for a dollar a bunch. (Not that this is really different from most grocery stores, but it’s still a nice price). I wanted basil, so I got one bunch.
One bunch is just too much. I’ve gotten more used to the idea of copious fresh basil, instead of adding it as an afterthought or a garnish. I like it in salads, particularly if I have blueberries or strawberries to put on the salad as well. Add a little drizzle of olive oil, and you’ve got a great thing going. Unfortunately I have no berries, but that’s ok. Just using basil in a regular old salad definitely kicks up the flavor, at least one notch, if not two.
I’m sure most people are aware that basil is great for cooking, too. Pizza, sauteed with vegetables, mixed up into a marinade for some chicken… whatever you think will taste good, there’s a good chance you can do it with basil. (Wow, that sounded weirder than I thought before I typed it out.)
Of course, one way to use up a substantial portion of that bunch is to make a nice batch of tomato sauce. I had that intention, but unfortunately I left the burner on too high for too long on my pot of tomatoes, and they burned horribly. They were not salvageable, and I didn’t want to go out and get more tomatoes, so I had to just scrap that whole idea. In this case, my cooking failure was due to not paying attention, rather than not having a recipe going in! I’ve made tomato sauce a whole bunch of times and this has never happened before.
I wish they would sell smaller bunches of herbs for 50c. I don’t want good basil going bad because I only wanted to use small amounts… but what am I supposed to do? I only have so many ingredients that will logically combine with basil. And I’m not planning to shop again before Thanksgiving. I suppose I can always freeze the rest if I don’t feel like using it right now.
Maybe I can make a basil-mozzarella omelet tomorrow morning. I might even spare some of the grape tomatoes that I plan to put on my salad for tomorrow’s lunch.
If you feel inclined, leave a comment and let me know what you do with your basil.