When my sister and brother-in-law first moved to Athens, OH a few years ago for my sister’s new job, they were less than thrilled about the dining options in town. But while the food options were somewhat limited and the number of non-chain restaurants were even more limited, they managed to find some really great gems in town ranging from an awesome hotdog dive to a great Middle Eastern restaurant. My favorite though, is Avalanche Pizza.
Avalanche sells bread at the farmer’s market on Saturdays in the summer that makes me want to cry it’s so good. As great as their bread is, it’s no surprise that their real focus, pizza, is no disappointment. The first time I visited, my brother-in-law pulled out their menu and we all gathered around to pick out a couple of pizzas. They were excited about the pesto chicken pizza, which they had had and really liked, but frankly it sounded a little weird to me because it had cashews. They really wanted to get it though, and I wasn’t going to get in the way of my hosts getting what they wanted, so we ordered the pesto chicken pizza and they let me pick another one. I have no memory of what the other one – the one I picked – was. My skepticism of the pesto chicken pizza vanished the second I took a bite. After that, all other pizzas paled in comparison.
Ironically, the same day Joseph and I went to the store to stock up on lots of garlic and olive oil so that we could start making our own garlic olive oil for our pizza instead of buying it, the store was out of the fresh tomato sauce we usually buy for pizza. Why not make that too, I figured?
Of course I’ve known all along that we could make our own sauce, and we have done this occasionally, but we often make pizza on Friday nights and after a long week, yes, I’ll admit it, we cut some corners and tend to just rely on store-bought sauce. The small Italian store near my office makes some great marinara sauce and it’s pretty cheap. So pure laziness wins out.
Although not that many pizza recipes end up here on Pixelated Crumb, we do in fact make pizza quite often. Once a week in fact, usually Fridays. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to pizza night, and it’s not just the eating part. Pizza is one of my favorite things to make. The act of pulling out the dough, picking out the toppings, and best of all, watching it transform from some dough with toppings to a golden thing of beauty after only 10 minutes in the oven.
There’s a myriad of wonderful, jazzed up pizzas you can create, but lately we’ve been taking the deliciously easy way out and keeping it simple with just pepperoni and mozzarella. When you’re using Vermont Smoke and Cure pepperoni, you simply cannot go wrong. But there’s one thing that we always, always put on our pizza whether we’re using one topping or several, tomato sauce, pesto, or no sauce at all (like one of our favorites, sweet potato and kale pizza): garlic olive oil. We just brush it all over the dough from edge to edge to give the pizza some oomph, with the added bonus of protecting the dough from getting soggy from any wet toppings.
Remember my sweet potato and kale craving and my accidental overabundance of kale? Well, when I saw this pizza on Two Peas and Their Pod, I knew I had to have it. I counted the days and minutes until I could have it and we finally got to make it last weekend. And again this past weekend because, yes, it is that good.
It’s funny that I have so few pizza posts on Pixelated Crumb, because we generally have pizza once a week. Growing up, Friday was always pizza night and it’s a tradition that I have taken seriously into adulthood, only now instead of ordering takeout or delivery, I make my own pizza. Luckily Joseph has been willing to make take this tradition seriously, because it just doesn’t feel like the beginning of the weekend if I haven’t had my pizza. And because pizza night is all about celebrating the start of the weekend, I’m generally too busy relaxing to take out the camera and take pictures.
If we have dinner plans on Friday, we make the pizza on Saturday. If we also have dinner plans Saturday, we make pizza on Sunday night and I’m thrown off all week. I have to constantly remind myself that the next day is Monday and I have to get up and go to work. Funny how food and habit can take such hold over you. Continue reading