You can either make your own pizza dough or buy it already made at your market. I go to my local pizza parlor and ask them for fresh pizza dough. One roll of pizza dough can typically be cut and shaped into four small balls to make four 9- to 10-inch pizzas, so make or order your dough accordingly. (I usually count two pizzas per person.)
Make sure to preheat your oven to 500 degrees and use a pizza stone if you can—sprinkle it with cornmeal before you place the pizza (complete with toppings) in the oven to avoid the dough from sticking. The pizzas usually take 12 to 15 minutes at that temperature to bake. Keep an eye out so you don't burn the crust.
For added flavor to the crust, I roll in fresh herbs such as chopped basil, oregano, rosemary or thyme. After I roll it out, I pour olive oil over the top, add kosher salt and cracked pepper, bake it and eat it warm right out of the oven with a squeeze of lemon juice. So good!
Go to town on the toppings! Here are some suggestions, and you can eyeball how much you want or don't want on your individual pizza.
- Top raw dough with buffalo mozzarella cheese, fresh sliced heirloom tomatoes, freshly chopped basil and oregano and a drizzle of olive oil, kosher salt and cracked pepper. Throw on anchovies, if you like!
- Top raw dough with three cheeses: feta cheese, shaved Parmesan cheese and goat cheese. When the pizza is done baking, top with thinly sliced prosciutto, fresh basil and thyme leaves.
- Top raw dough with sausages, roasted red pepper, Fontina cheese, tomato sauce, sautéed onions, red pepper flakes and fresh basil.
- Bake pizza dough, then top with a fresh handful of wild or baby arugula, Parmesan cheese curls and pomegranate seeds. Add thinly sliced steak, grilled chicken or barbecue chicken. Drizzle on extra-virgin olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of kosher salt.
- Make a cooled, baked pizza crust with crème fraîche, smoked salmon, fresh dill and chives.
- Create a hamburger pizza! Start with cooked pizza dough topped with cooked ground beef (1 cup) and plenty of extra-sharp cheddar cheese. Bake only until the cheese has melted (1 to 2 minutes), then top with lettuce, tomato, ketchup and pickles. I also put jalapeños on mine.
- Create a taco pizza: Start with baked pizza dough and top with seasoned ground beef, Monterey Jack cheese, jalapeños, cilantro, scallions and sour cream, along with your favorite spicy guacamole.
- Bake pizza dough, then add burrata cheese, prosciutto and cut-up cold melon topped with fresh mint leaves, basil and olive oil.
- Create a Greek pizza: Start with baked pizza dough topped with Romaine lettuce, cucumbers, thinly sliced red onion, feta cheese, Greek olives, fresh oregano, mint, sliced red bell peppers, olive oil and red wine vinegar.
- Make a meatball pizza: Start with raw dough and your favorite meatball recipe, covered with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan and Romano cheese, red pepper flakes and fresh basil.
Use your imagination as far as toppings are concerned and put things on the table in any order, then watch people go to town. No topping is too crazy! It's fun to watch what everyone comes up with.
Everything can be made and chopped in advance and placed in plastic bags in the refrigerator the day of your party to save space and time. Even the pizza dough can be made the day before and kept wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator overnight.
I don't like to use too many bowls because of the cleanup afterward, so when it comes time to make the pizzas, I take two huge platters and take out the toppings and arrange them on that. Cold champagne goes perfectly with our pizzas, but I also like beer!
Happy New Year!
My new show, Cristina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love, debuts on OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network January 3 at 3:30 p.m. Watch a sneak peek.