It's pizza time, and for this post, I am sharing a simple Sicilian-style pizza recipe from my Grandmother. My family version is a thick, almost focaccia-like crust, topped with onions, sweet tomatoes, and herbs. There is nothing better than fresh homemade pizza with healthy toppings, a crispy bottom, and a soft, chewy bite in the middle. Of course, I'll also talk about alternative ingredients and how you can make pizza dough with Spelt flour.
My homemade Italian Pizza recipe is made by hand, but it is easy, authentic, contains only fresh ingredients, and has tons of flavor. And it is enough to
- Feed a large family;
- Serve at parties or events;
- Enjoy on Movie nights and even have the neighbors over;
- Better yet, do something different during the Holiday season and serve this Sicilian-style pizza on New Year's Eve.
- You can also easily store leftovers in the fridge or freezer (more on that later.)
GRANDMOTHER'S ITALIAN SICILIAN-STYLE PIZZA
My Grandmother would make this pizza only once or twice a year. It was a specialty food when I grew up, and it is so good!
I want to share it on the blog, because it is part of my childhood, and I still make it a few times a year—especially around the Holidays. Homemade comfort food can easily fit into a healthy lifestyle as long as enjoyed in moderation—and this pizza is pure homemade goodness. The only deviation from the original recipe is the fresh yeast—it has a short two-week shelf life, cost more, needs to be refrigerated, not all markets carry it, plus I don't use yeast all that much. So, I use active dry yeast instead, and it works just as well.
So, let's look at the ingredients!
SICILIAN-STYLE PIZZA—INGREDIENTS AND ALTERNATIVES
Homemade thick crust is the heart of this pizza, and it contains simple ingredients such as flour, water, a bit of salt, and yeast. The lovely thick, rectangular-shaped, spongy bread base is baked in an oiled oven pan sheet. You will appreciate it's freshness when it comes out of the oven with its soft middle and crispy bottom that has soaked up the olive oil. The recipe calls for bread flour, but you can also use all-purpose flour instead—or make my tried-and-tested Spelt flour dough recipe if you prefer to use an ancient grain.
Good quality crushed or diced tomatoes are used instead of a red sauce. Best to pick pure sweet tomatoes straight out of the jar or can with no additions (I love the Jovial brand.) They will be seasoned together with the onions, and it brings tons of flavor without extra calories. You can, of course, opt for a pre-made red pasta sauce, but I encourage you first to try my version.
Traditionally it is a meatless sauce made from tomatoes, lots of onions, and herbs sans the anchovies. If you are going for the New York Style Sicilian pizza sprinkle on top mozzarella (if you don't mind some dairy) during the last 15 minutes of baking time.
Always use a good quality olive oil!
SPELT FLOUR PIZZA DOUGH
Over the years, I have started baking more with Organic Sprouted Spelt flour. It produces baked goods with a rather light and airy texture, and it is a good source of fiber, proteins, B vitamins, and minerals, with a natural sweet-like flavor. Although NOT gluten-free, it is a type of grain that is far easier to digest than modern wheat (at least among my family members.)
Using Spelt Flour—Challenges
There are a few challenges when using it to make this thick pizza crust. I have made this Spelt flour version so many times now, and I finally found the recipe that I think you will love as well. A few notes:
- If you make the crust with this ancient grain, I recommend making it more flavorful with extra herbs. Therefore I am adding garlic and onion powder, salt, and the right amount of dried oregano into the flour mix.
- This type of flour can also use some olive oil, but I am adding less water instead—the crust becomes crispier, and it adds a beautiful Mediterranean flavor.
- Be careful not to over-knead this dough. A good rule is to mix the dough for about three to four minutes; otherwise, it might lose some of its elasticity.
- It also needs less rising time. One rise is all you need and a short one after forming it in the sheet.
- Lastly, I use Organic Sprouted Spelt Flour from One Degree to make this healthy Spelt pizza dough. Sometimes you can find it much cheaper in your local health stores than online, so double-check the stores first.
- It is a fine flour to work with and tastes fantastic!
MAKE SURE TO ACTIVATE DRY YEAST
The package instructions are pretty clear, but here are a few notes:
- Use 7 to 9 grams of active dry yeast and place the content of the package in a small bowl.
- Add a bit of sugar—about ½ teaspoon. It doesn't do anything for the rising of the dough itself, but it does help you in determining if the yeast is still active. A pinch of sugar will make the yeast bubble, and that proves that it hasn't expired.
- Stir in ¼ cup lukewarm water! And I mean not too hot—it will kill the yeast—and not too cold. Heat some water, then let it cool a bit until you can safely dip in your pinky, but it still feels warm — no need to measure the temperature of your water.
- Then let it rest for about 5 minutes. If active, the yeast should dissolve in the water and bubble.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH PIZZA
Here are a few healthy combo and topping suggestions:
- You can't go wrong with a more classic Italian salad—with our without the chicken. It is simple yet incredibly hearty.
- Go for a creamy kale salad, or pair it with a healthy spicy mango-avocado salad.
- During colder days, I like to serve it with a cup of nourishing vegetable soup like the Butternut Squash-Zucchini and Rosemary Soup, or the Red Kuri Squash Soup.
- Top it off with extra (vegan) cheese of your choice, arugula or Basil leaves, or add some spice with red pepper flakes.
- Are you making it for Movie night? Add a platter with raw veggies on the table. Anything from sliced red bell peppers, cucumbers, fresh fennel pieces, sweet Romaine lettuce leaves will add some crunchy pizzaz to your pizza. And don't forget maybe some olives and fresh figs!
HOW TO STORE OR FREEZE LEFTOVER PIZZA
- I usually store leftovers in the fridge, stacked in between parchment paper, and sealed in an airtight container.
- It will last you four to five days.
- Just reheat in the microwave or pop it back into 350 degrees preheated oven on an olive oil brushed baking sheet (my preference) until hot—time varies on the level of crispiness you want.
- You can, of course, freeze it too (I never do.)
- Best to wrap each pizza square tightly in waxed paper sheets—you can even use a first-layer of unbleached butcher paper.
- Then seal it with freezer tape and store either in a container or bag.
- Reheat it directly in the oven to avoid a chewy crust and until thoroughly warmed (time varies here again on the level of crispiness you want.)
Now all that is left to do is for you to try out my family's delicious Sicilian-style pizza recipe or make it with the Spelt flour pizza dough. Have questions? DM me or comment below.
OTHER DELICIOUS ITALIAN RECIPES YOU MIGHT LIKE
- A SWEET AND SPICY RED PASTA SAUCE WITH CREAMY CANNELLINI BEANS (ALSO VEGAN)
- ITALIAN CHICKEN SAUSAGE AND VEGETABLE SKILLET
- HEALTHY ITALIAN SEASONED TURKEY BURGERS ON BISCUITS
- TENDER ITALIAN MEATBALLS IN FRESH BASIC TOMATO SAUCE
- THE PERFECT PARSLEY AND ANCHOVY MINI FRITTATAS
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To make authentic Sicilian-style pizza dough
- 1 package of active dry yeast (7 to 9 grams), rehydrated according to package instructions
- 3 teaspoons fine salt
- 7 ½ cups/1-kilo unbleached bread flour
- 2 ½ cups/600 ml water, or as required, at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
To make Spelt flour pizza dough
- 1 package of active dry yeast (7 to 9 grams), rehydrated according to package instructions
- 3 teaspoons fine salt
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 7 ½ cups/1-kilo organic sprouted Spelt flour
- 2 ¼ cups/560 ml water, or as required, at room temperature
- ¼ cup olive oil
To make the pizza toppings
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 large yellow onions thinly sliced (about 30 ounces/850 grams)
- 1 (18.3-ounce/520-gram) jar diced or crushed tomatoes
- 2 ½ teaspoons fine salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Flakes of red chili pepper, as desired
Make the Sicilian-style Pizza Dough in Preparation for Making the Pizza
- Combine salt and flour in a large bowl. Then use a wooden spoon to stir in the rehydrated yeast.
- Gradually add water. Knead by hand, using your body weight, until the flour has absorbed all the water, and it starts to form a rough ball. At first, you are only kneading chunks of flour, and that is normal. The dough should hold together when all water has been used.
- Remove from the bowl. Continue to knead on a well-floured flat surface for another 5 minutes, or until dough becomes smooth and elastic. (During the kneading process, sprinkle the work surface with more flour if the dough feels too sticky, and gently knead it in.)
- Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let it rise for about 90 minutes at room temperature.
- After the initial rising time, take out the baking sheet and coat it with two tablespoons of olive oil (it adds extra flavor to the bottom of the pizza.)
- Place the risen dough in the center of the sheet. Gently stretch and push it first into a large oval. Then continue to shape it into a rectangular form, evenly covering almost the whole length of the baking sheet.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise for another 15 minutes at room temperature. After 15 minutes, check if the dough has stretched back a little, gently reshape it into its final form. Let it rise for another 90 minutes in the baking sheet, covered with a clean kitchen towel.
- Continue to make the pizza.
Make the Alternative Spelt Pizza Dough in Preparation for Making the Pizza
- Combine the spices and flour in a large bowl. Then use a wooden spoon to stir in the rehydrated yeast.
- Gradually add two cups of water. Knead by hand, using your body weight, until the flour has absorbed all the water, and it starts to form a rough ball. Then knead in the olive oil first, followed by the rest of the water (about ¼ cup).
- Remove the rough ball of dough from the bowl. Continue to knead on a well-floured flat surface for another 2 to 3 minutes or until it becomes smoother—don't overwork the Spelt flour.
- Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let it rise for 90 minutes at room temperature.
- After the initial rising time, take out the baking sheet and coat it liberally with two tablespoons of olive oil (it adds extra flavor to the bottom of the pizza.)
- Place the risen dough in the center of the sheet. Gently stretch and push it into a large oval. Continue to shape it into a rectangular form, evenly covering almost the whole length of the baking sheet.
- Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise for another 15 minutes. Check if the dough has stretched back a little, gently reshape it into its final form.
- Continue to make the pizza (no second 90-minute rising time as with bread flour.)
Make the Pizza
- During the last 15 minutes of the pizza dough's rising time, preheat the oven to 450°F/230°C.
- Meanwhile, cover the bottom of a wide skillet, large enough to hold the onions liberally with 3 tablespoons olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, frequently stirring, for about 10 minutes, or until soft.
- Stir in the tomatoes for one minute—season with salt and liberally with pepper. Remove the pan from heat; reserve.
- Bake the risen Sicilian-style pizza dough for 12 to 15 minutes on the lowest oven rack. It should look mostly pale but firm, with a few light golden brown spots. Remove the crust from the oven. Bake the risen Spelt flour pizza dough for 10 to 12 minutes. It should feel firm with lightly browned edges.
- Reset the oven temperature to 350°F/180°C.
- Brush one tablespoon of olive oil over the crust, reaching all corners.
- Distribute the reserved onions and tomatoes with any remaining olive oil in the skillet evenly on top of the pre-baked crust. Top off with dried oregano, extra pepper, and sprinkle to taste flakes of red chili pepper and a few pinches of salt (optional).
- Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil evenly over the toppings.
- Place the pizza back in the oven for another 15 minutes or until the crust is firm and crispy at the edges.
- Take out and immediately cut into squares. It allows for any olive oil on top to set further into the crust.
- Scoop up any remaining oil around the edges of the baking sheet and pour it on top of the pizza. Let sit a little bit before serving.
Equipment: 1 (11- x 17-inch) rimmed baking sheet