When it’s time to celebrate, kick back, or just enjoy friends and family, pizza is the life of the party. But the star of a slice of pizza is the cheese. Creamy, salty, warm, and stretchy each cheesy bite brings a smile to everyone’s face. According to Statista, there were 75,243 pizza restaurants in the U.S. in 2017, and New England has its fair share. Even though eating out is an occasion, you can have fun making your own cheese pizza at home.
From Simple to Adventurous
No home chef is needed to make a good and quick pizza at home. You haven’t lived until you made your first English muffin pizza (a toaster oven favorite). If English muffins aren’t your jam, a plain or whole grain bagel will do just as well. Top it with sauce, cheese, and bake until bubbly and crisp. To take it up a notch, there are pre-baked or par-baked crusts in the supermarket that are fast and taste great.
Some people are more experienced (or daring) and may want to grab a ball of raw dough from the deli section at the market–no measuring or mixing needed. To work with raw dough, flour a clean surface, just enough to not stick. Too much flour can dry out your dough and crust. Knead the dough until it’s smooth. Let it rest for 10 minutes to let the gluten, protein in dough that gives pizza crust its structure, relax. Roll out and top. Cook the pizza in a 450-degree oven until the bottom crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly. For a pizza-shop crust, pick up a pizza stone; it gives that brick oven appeal.
Creative Cheese Creations
At home, you’re in control so amp up the creativity. Cheese comes in so many different flavors and textures. Mix it up to add a tasty twist.
Here are some quick ideas:
- Sharp VT cheddar gives a buttery, nutty flavor.
- Smoked cheese (like gouda) adds that smokehouse appeal.
- Pepper jack brings the heat and spices up your slice.
- Herbed cheddar delivers a touch of elegance and freshness.
To work with these cheeses, blend then with equal parts of mozzarella.
But wait? Cheese isn’t good for you, right?
For years we’ve been told to stay away from cheese and full-fat dairy because saturated fat isn’t good for our hearts.
But new, emerging research suggests that the fat in full-fat dairy like cheese may have a neutral affect or even help lower cholesterol levels, which is good for your heart. Remember, overdoing anything isn’t healthy so stick to a slice or two. More research on full-fat dairy is needed, and the current recommendations for the inclusion of dairy in the diet are based on fat-free and low-fat dairy options.
You can boost the nutritional appeal of pizza by adding veggies like broccoli, peppers and onions, eggplant, or mushrooms; top with lean meat like chicken; or add some pineapple (yes, a fruit) for that trendy salty-sweet flavor combo.
Embrace your inner pizza desire, let loose, and have fun trying new cheese combos and toppings wherever you are.