Za, My Way

I love a good za. Pizza that is. And what a great time in history it is for the pie-lover!

The gourmet pizza revolution is up and swinging. In Minneapolis, Punch, Pizza Luce and the stand-by Red’s Savoy are among the favorites branching out to several locations. Here in Denver Lala’s not only has great go-to za, but I must say one of the best Caesar salads I’ve had in years–garlicky dressing, white anchovies and a “small” the size of most lobster platters. Among the other pizza joints we get our fill from are Basil Doc’s, Two Fisted Mario’s Pizza, Proto’s and Denver Pizza Company, the last being my next stop.

Recently though our pizza and its fixins have been coming from the menu of my mind. With Pillsbury dough on sale, I picked up a couple rolls and set out for a homemade pizza pie.

Pizza #1

  • Pillsbury Classic Pizza Crust dough (salted and peppered)
  • Homemade pesto (basil leaves—about 15-20, one handful raw pine nuts, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, olive oil, Parmesan and squeeze of half lemon)
  • 2 cut-up already cooked artichoke hearts*
  • 10 cherry tomatoes (sliced)
  • ¼ of Columbus Salame (cut into strips)
  • 5 cloves roasted garlic (peel back white skin, cut ¼ of an inch of top, put in tin foil and douse tops with olive oil, tighten tin foil and roast 30 minutes at 400 degrees)
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan, Romano and Asiago cheese mix
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Few springs of rosemary (chopped and sprinkled on 1st layer of cheese)


* We love, love, love artichokes. So we ate the leaves as an appetizer. My mom’s recipe: chop bottom of artichoke stem and about 1/2 inch off the top, wrap in plastic wrap, microwave 7-8 minutes, remove from microwave and melt 2 tablespoons butter per person, serve hot and peel, dip and scrape off the flesh. Save bottom, or the heart, for your pizza.


Pizza #2

  • Pillsbury Thin Pizza Crust dough (salted and peppered)
  • Homemade pesto (basil leaves—about 15-20, two handfuls raw pine nuts, 3 cloves roasted garlic, olive oil, Parmesan and squeeze of half lemon)**
  • 10 cherry tomatoes (sliced)
  • 1 Russet potato (sliced, tossed in olive oil, seasoned with fresh rosemary, kosher salt and cracked pepper, roast in oven 30 minutes at 400 degrees)
  • Few springs of rosemary (for potato slices, chopped and sprinkled on)
  • ¼ of Columbus Salame (cut into strips)
  • 10 cloves roasted garlic (peel back white skin, cut ¼ of an inch of top, put in tin foil and douse tops with olive oil, tighten tin foil and roast 30 minutes at 400 degrees)
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan, Romano and Asiago cheese mix
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese

** Our pesto the second time around was much heartier. You may want to roast the pine nuts to add more flavor. The added basil and pine nuts this time around created a nice base with some nutty crunch.

Toppings tip: Cook anything you are going to put on before you top the pizza. Make sure your toppings are dry. Anything from a jar should be well drained. Anything frozen, should be thawed. When it comes to what you put on, go wild with the toppings. It’s hard to mess up a pizza.

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