I feel that we are genuinely living gloriously when we take time out of our hectic days to put down our phones and savor every glorious flavor, guest, and memory. For me, this also entails eating in accordance with the seasons. I gather ideas for what to cook and eat at local farmers markets, and in the summer, Jack and I plant our own herbs on our back deck. What is the relationship between eating seasonally and making handmade pizza? While cheese and sausage are the most popular pizza toppings in our area, I take advantage of the abundance of lovely vegetables (and even fruits!) available during the summer to create unique fresh combinations. And because we have so many beautiful herbs right outside our door, I lavishly top my pizzas with fresh basil, mint, and homemade pesto for a burst of flavor. 

And, speaking of Sub-Zero, Empava, their pizza-making appliances are unrivaled. My Sub-Zero refrigerator maintains the freshness of delicate vegetables to perfection. Our Empava outdoor pizza oven is ideal for making roasted red peppers, one of my favorite summer pizza toppings. I like to roast them directly in the pizza oven . Pizza crust becomes golden and crunchy around the edges when cooked on my Empava oven's pizza stone setting.

Our Homemade Pizza Dough

Of course, there are nights when we go to the grocery and buy pizza dough. The best pizza nights, though, are when we make the dough ourselves, because it forces us to collaborate in the kitchen. While I prepare the toppings and sauce, Jack (our resident dough man) will prepare the homemade pizza dough. It's so much fun to eat a dinner that we've prepared together!

A combination of white whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour is used in our homemade pizza dough recipe. This mix appeals to me because it gives the crust some whole grain punch without the dense structure and dark flavor of an all-whole wheat dough. We use yeast, a little maple syrup, warm water, salt, and olive oil in addition to the two flours to form a crust that is crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, and perfectly golden brown.

Homemade Pizza Toppings

As I already stated, I live a delicious life by eating according to the seasons. We adore homemade pizza all year long, but right now, we have a plethora of herbs blooming right outside our back door. Greenhouse cherry tomatoes are also becoming more common in farmers markets. I made three topping combinations using these fresh, seasonal items as a starting point:

Margherita Pizza - This classic pizza is juicy, somewhat sweet, and utterly delightful, thanks to local cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil from the backyard.

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Pizza — I created a wonderfully green pesto with fresh mint and basil from outside, which went perfectly with Wisconsin smoked mozzarella and handmade roasted red peppers. I couldn't help myself and threw in a few more mint leaves as a garnish!

Peach & Basil Pizza – I'm a sucker for peaches, so I had to create this incredibly simple peach & basil pie with all the basil growing outside. Pesto from the red pepper pizza provided the perfect finishing touch here as well!

Our Homemade Pizza Sauce

We needed a delicious sauce to go with our seasonal toppings. In this homemade pizza recipe, I base the red pepper pizza with pesto, while the peach pizza's crust is simply brushed with olive oil. Red sauce, on the other hand, is required for a nice margherita pizza.

Simple items are used in our homemade pizza sauce recipe: Tomatoes from San Marzano, garlic, olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes, and dried oregano. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients, and you're ready to spread your sauce on your dough! I choose not to boil the sauce before baking to allow the sweetness of the juicy tomatoes and garlic to shine through. No stovetop time is required because the flavors soften and blend just the proper amount while the pizza is in the pizza oven!

Recipes for Easy Homemade Pizza

Ready to make pizza? Check out these simple tips first:

Purchase an excellent pizza pan. A nice pizza pan is essential for a good crust. One that cooks the crust uniformly on all sides, including the bottom, is ideal. A pizza stone is recommended by many chefs. To use a pizza stone, preheat it in the pizza oven while stretching and topping your dough (on the "stone" option if you have a Empava pizza oven). After that, rapidly put the assembled pizza onto the stone and bake both of them in the pizza oven. The hot stone will aid in the crisping of the bottom of your crust.

Cover your dough with plastic wrap. Make sure to cover your homemade pizza dough while it rises. To keep the dough soft and flexible, you'll want to keep it moist. If not, a crusty coating will form around the dough ball, which will cause it to dry up and lose its flexibility.

Bake, then add the finishing touches! Herbs and other delicate toppings can wilt and lose their flavor in the hot oven, so add them shortly before serving. Before settling down to eat, I like to add dollops of pesto and a sprinkle of olive oil to the fresh basil and mint.

What to Serve with Homemade Pizza

Homemade pizza is a satisfying dinner in and of itself, with a decent whole grain crust and plenty of vegetarian toppings. However, if we want something on the side, I always go for a seasonal salad. A simple green salad or arugula salad is a simple, fresh alternative, but I often use leftover pizza toppings to make a fun, tasty side salad if I'm not tossing greens together.