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Tomato and Basil Pizza

No-knead pizza dough? Check. Simple tomato sauce? Check. Dinner that will please young palettes while satisfying adult tastes? Double check. Tracy Benjamin of Shutterbean is no stranger to pizza. She’s crafted quite a few kid-friendly pizzas on her blog, but we love this one for its year-round appeal and classic flavors. Small hands can help form the dough and spread on the sauce and cheese. And the nice thing about this pizza is its adaptability. If you have zucchini to use up or leftover spinach, toss it on top. You can also encourage the kids to think up their own toppings and customize away.

Notes: This recipe makes enough dough for two pizzas. You can freeze one round of dough or refrigerate it for a day if need be. Regarding the dough—if at first it springs back when you shape it, let it rest for 5 minutes and try again.


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The dough

3 1/4 cups bread flour

2 1/2 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast

3/4 teaspoon table salt

3/4 teaspoon sugar

1 1/3 cups water

Extra virgin olive oil for pan


1. In a bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the water, and using a spoon, your hand, or a baker’s plastic bench scraper, mix together until blended—this should take a couple of minutes.

2. Cover the dough and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours.

3. Dump out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut it in half. Use both pieces, or save one in the refrigerator (use a zip-top bag) for up to 1 day.

4. Oil a 13-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet liberally with good extra virgin olive oil. Then gently plop the dough on the pan and stretch and press it out to the edges. If it springs back wait 5 minutes and then proceed. The dough is very thin. If it tears, piece it back together.

The toppings

1 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

a few pinches red pepper flakes

6 large leaves fresh basil, chopped

12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese

Parmesan cheese for topping


1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

2. Use a blender or food processor to pulse together the tomatoes, juice, olive oil and salt until they are chunky. The mixture will be quite liquidy.

3. Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the dough, going all the way to the edges. Make sure no sauce piles up in the center of the pie.

4. Sprinkle with a few pinches of red pepper flakes, top with chopped basil and tear pieces of the fresh mozzarella and scatter it over the pie.

5. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until the edges are slightly charred. Sprinkle with extra basil and fresh Parmesan cheese and serve hot or at room temperature.

Makes: One 13-by-18-inch pizza

Recipe slightly adapted from My Bread, by Jim Lahey

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