Vary crust, toppings for world of pizza

Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD  -- Take advantage of convenience products to make pizzas at home. Clockwise, from top left, are taco pizza with homemade crust; fresh basil-parsley pizza with fresh tomato and mozzarella; pita round pizza with pepperoni, cheese and fresh spinach; naan pizza with asparagus, roasted peppers, olives and mozzarella cheese; thin-crust prepared crustl pizza with artichoke hearts, pesto, onions, yellow peppers and feta; and homemade crust pizza with shrimp, fresh mushrooms, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
Advocate staff photo by CATHERINE THRELKELD -- Take advantage of convenience products to make pizzas at home. Clockwise, from top left, are taco pizza with homemade crust; fresh basil-parsley pizza with fresh tomato and mozzarella; pita round pizza with pepperoni, cheese and fresh spinach; naan pizza with asparagus, roasted peppers, olives and mozzarella cheese; thin-crust prepared crustl pizza with artichoke hearts, pesto, onions, yellow peppers and feta; and homemade crust pizza with shrimp, fresh mushrooms, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

By Corinne Cook

Special to Food

I met Charmaine Dupré, a friend from Ville Platte, at a restaurant last week and she mentioned making pizzas on naan. Naan is a delicious-tasting East Indian flatbread.

Traditionally, naan was made by placing a disc of flattened dough onto a cloth puff. That puff was used to slap the dough against the side wall of a very hot tandoor oven.

In a minute, the bread touching the wall was golden, bubbly and had a nice smoky flavor. It was removed by sticking a skewer through it. I’m seeing it in many large grocery stores now and you can also find several recipes on the Internet for making naan at home.

Besides the idea of making pizzas on naan, Dupré shared recipes for a quick pizza sauce and two different pesto recipes from a cooking class she taught.

After making the sauce and pesto, I was ready to experiment. I used naan and then mixed up a batch of homemade pizza dough from a recipe Melissa Johnson shared with me a few years ago. I rolled that dough thin and topped it with the sauce, fresh pesto and various toppings.

When your fresh basil is large enough to snip off several leaves, make the Basil and Parsley Pesto or the Basil and Cilantro Pesto. Besides using on a pizza, try the pesto on sandwiches, in pasta and dips, on potatoes, or thin it for a salad dressing. The quick tomato sauce is made from canned tomatoes.

Create your own pesto pizza party with cheese and any number of toppings. Make your own dough or check the grocery store for the premade ones. Use 8-inch flour tortillas for individual pizzas or you can buy ultra-thin and crispy pizza crusts; Boboli crusts in two sizes; pizza dough in a can; frozen dough; and many other forms and shapes of pizza crusts.

The choices for cheese and vegetable toppings are unlimited. Go beyond the usual pepperoni and mozzarella. Use fresh mozzarella, lightly steamed fresh broccoli, asparagus, squash, peppers, spinach, kale, etc.

Here are a few suggestions for creating your own pizza with good cheese and fresh ingredients for a real treat.

Corinne Cook is a columnist for The Advocate. Reach her at food@theadvocate.com.