Today is International Pizza Day

Thin crust, New York Style, Deep Pan, rectangle, circle! No matter how you like your crust, pizza is one of America’s favorite foods, so it’s no surprise that there is a day to celebrate its deliciousness!

Did you know:

  • Pizza is a $30 billion a year industry in the U.S.?
  • On average, each person in the U.S. eats about 23 lbs of pizza per year?
  • Approximately three billion pizzas are sold in the United States every year, plus an additional one billion frozen pizzas?
  • 93% of Americans eat pizza at least once per month?

What you and I call pizza originated in Italy, but without cheese. In 1889, white mozzarella cheese was added to red tomato sauce and green basil leaves in order to resemble the colors of the flag of Italy in honor of Queen Margherita’s visit to Naples. The Queen enjoyed the pizza so much, it was named after her: Pizza Margherita. Pizza sure has come a long way since 1889. Just about any topping can be added to pizza nowadays. From pepperoni, to sardines, fresh vegetables like green peppers and broccoli, even duck pizza toppings are as creative as your imagination. Here are some popular pizza variations throughout the world.

  • I think the Brazilians are most creative when it comes to pizza toppings: hearts of palm, catupiry cheese, fresh corn, fresh herbs, mashed potatoes, grilled sausages, potato sticks, and curried chicken with coconut milk are mixed with more traditional toppings like olives, ham, bacon, oregano, and tomatoes.
  • In Russia, they serve pizza covered with “mockba,” a combination of sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon and onions. Red herring is also a topping of choice.
  • In India, some of the more popular international toppings in India are pickled ginger, minced mutton and “paneer,” (a form of cottage cheese), which looks quite like tofu but is obviously a dairy product. Tandoori chicken and chicken “tikka” are also increasingly popular toppings in India.
  • Americans tend to play on the safer side, when it comes to pizza. It should be no surprise that pepperoni is by far the most requested topping (36% of all pizza made in the U.S. is served with pepperoni). However, new gourmet pizza’s are popping up every where. Toppings like cajun shrimp, barbecue chicken, and even venison are gaining popularity.

Tell us, what is your favorite pizza topping?

Here’s a delicious recipe for Pizzeria Luigi’s Mona Lisa Pizza

INGREDIENTS:

Pizza Dough (makes enough for 2 16-18 inch pizzas)

Oil, for the bowls

1 ½ c Warm Water

Pinch of Sugar

½ ounce Dry Active Yeast

Pinch of Salt

3 ½ – 3 ¾ c All Purpose Flour

Pizza (makes 1 16-18 inch pizza)

Flour, for dusting work surface and pizza peel

Oil for a pizza pan

1 piece Pizza Dough ( ½ recipe from above)

14 ounce Pizza Sauce

12 ounces Whole Milk Mozzarella Cheese, shredded

4 ounces Italian Sausage, cooked

4 ounce Sliced Pepperoni

4 ounces Mushroom, sliced

1 small Red Onion, sliced

1 small Green Bell Pepper, diced

¾ c Sliced Black Olives

DIRECTIONS:

Pizza Dough: Lightly oil 2 large bowls. Put the warm water and sugar in a medium bowl, sprinkle over the yeast and stir until dissolved.  Let the yeast activate- 2 to 5 minutes. Add salt and 2 c of flour. Stir until well blended. Stir in another 1 ½ – 1 ¾ c flour until the dough is too stiff to stir with a spoon.

Divide dough in half. Knead each half about 7 times- do not knead too hard or the dough will rip at the top. Shape dough into round balls and put in oiled large bowls. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until the dough doubles in size- 30 to 60 minutes. Put the dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour after it rises to gain elasticity.

Pizza Recipe: Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. If you’re using a pizza stone, heat that too or lightly oil a pizza/baking pan sheet.

Put 1 piece of dough on floured surface and push down with your finger tips to get rid of any bubbles. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough to the size and thickness you desire (16-18 inches)/ Transfer dough to pan. If using a stone, sprinkle a wooden pizza peel with flour and place the dough on top.

Spread on sauce, then sprinkle with cheese and toppings- leave a 1 inch border. Put the pan in the oven or slip the pizza from off the peel, directly onto the stone. Cook pizza for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

ENJOY!

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