Ghouls and goblins big and small will be out in force this weekend. And they'll be hungry for more than fake blood. • Feed them chocolate and sour-sweets all night and face the consequences of a scary sugar rush. They need real food. • They need pizza. • Cheesy pies are just the thing whether you're having a party — Halloween is on Saturday this year — or simply looking for something to feed the kids before they head out, buckets in hand.
By making pizza you can get inventive with toppings, tailoring them for simple tastes or adventurous palates. Or even make a maniacal pumpkin face with pepperoni. Pizza can be both salad (pile it high with dressed greens) and main course (lots of protein and veggies).
Okay, maybe you don't need dessert with all those fun-sized candy bars, but a Sweetie Pie Candy Pizza (recipe below) puts the punctuation point on the party. Cut slices small; it's rich.
Pizza delivery or pickup is an option, but be warned: Halloween is one of the busiest days of the year for pizza joints. Place orders early and still expect to wait. You can also go the frozen pizza route, though you'll be mostly limited to cheese, pepperoni/sausage and one with nearly everything.
Preparing a homemade pizza couldn't be easier with the choices available these days for bottled sauce and ready-to-go dough. Buy a tube of refrigerated dough or a ready-made shell like Boboli. Some grocery stores sell housemade pizza dough. If you're the type who actually makes a Halloween costume, you're the person who can prepare your own sauce and yeasty pizza dough, too.
I've included a recipe here for both, and the dough recipe, though simple, takes some time for the double rising. Cornmeal in the dough adds texture and body. Whether you're using a store-bought dough or your own, let it come to room temperature before shaping. As the dough warms, it relaxes and become pliable.
Another tip: Transfer raw dough to your pizza pan before spreading on sauce-cheese-toppings. Unless you've got a large wooden paddle, called a peel, it's tough to move a loaded unbaked pie to the baking pan. Trust me. If you're using a pizza stone, get a peel.
Bake a homemade pie for 10 to 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Besides the universally loved pepperoni (make mine with black olives, please), at right are some other combinations sure to soothe your savage beasts on Halloween.
. Quattro Formaggi Tomato sauce, smoked mozzarella, fresh mozzarella, Fontina and Parmesan.
. Mushroom Forget the canned version. Saute fresh, sliced button mushrooms in olive oil with a few shakes of dried thyme, coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pair with tomato sauce and mozzarella.
. Sausage and Artichoke Hearts Tomato sauce, smoked mozzarella, cooked bulk sausage and drained marinated artichoke hearts cut in half.
. BLT Brush dough with olive oil and cover with shredded mozzarella, diced tomatoes and cooked bacon pieces. Lightly toss shredded iceberg lettuce with mayo and pile on cooked pizza.
. Pesto Tomato Pesto sauce, fresh mozzarella and halved cherry or grape tomatoes (yellow and/or red) over all.
. Barbecue Chicken Barbecue sauce, mozzarella cheese, shredded rotisserie chicken and sliced scallion or red onion.
. Garden Veggie Mix packet of ranch dressing powder with 8 ounces cream cheese; spread on cooked pizza base. Layer on a variety of chopped, fresh veggies such as carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes.
. Shrimp Scampi Bake dough covered with mozzarella until halfway cooked. While pizza is cooking, saute peeled, medium shrimp in olive oil, minced garlic and white wine. Drain shrimp and scatter on pizza; cook remainder of time.
. Mexican Brush shell with olive oil. Add sliced cured chorizo sausage, shredded Manchego cheese and sliced, roasted red peppers.
. Meatball Tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, chopped green peppers, halved and thawed frozen meatballs and Parmesan cheese.
. Muffuletta Spread dough with olive tapenade or chopped olives; top with thinly sliced provolone and salami, ham and capicola.
. Blue Onion Caramelized onion, crumbled Gorgonzola, dried or fresh sage.
. White Spinach Mounds of ricotta and shredded mozzarella, then spinach sauteed in olive oil and garlic.
. Caprese Tomato sauce, slices of fresh mozzarella, drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with ribbons of fresh basil and coarse salt just before serving.
. Leftover Beef Salad
Spread pesto on a baked pizza shell. Layer on strips of cooked beef then top with grated Asiago cheese and chopped arugula. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Janet K. Keeler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.