Pizza is one of the most American of foods. On average, we each eat about 46 slices per year. Although 3 billion pizzas are sold annually in the U.S., a lot are made at home. It’s a project in which the whole family can take part.

Pizza is one of the most American of foods. On average, we each eat about 46 slices per year.


Although 3 billion pizzas are sold annually in the U.S., a lot are made at home. It’s a project in which the whole family can take part.


“It’s good for the little ones. They can play with the pizza roller and help put the toppings on,” said Sharon Michel of Kincaid, Ill., who has made pizzas with her granddaughters, 6 and 13, for years.


“They make their own. It’s a little messy, but that’s OK,” she said.


Start with a crust. Michel makes her own, but ready-made pizza dough can be bought in supermarkets and from pizza parlors. Sauce can also be purchased or homemade.


Michel uses a combination of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, which she puts over the toppings so they don’t dry out when baking.


“We like everything on the pizza – sausage, pepperoni, peppers, onions and anchovies,” she said. She buys bulk Italian sausage and chops it fine as it cooks.


According to www.homemade-pizza-made-easy.com, pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in the U.S., followed by mushrooms, extra cheese, sausage, green pepper and onions.


Customize your pizza to suit your preferences. Here are some recipes to get you started.


Classic Pizza Margherita




1 package refrigerated pizza dough

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 package mild Italian sausage, links or bulk

1/2 medium red onion, minced

1 tablespoon parsley, minced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon oregano

8 Roma tomatoes, sliced (save 10 slices for the top)

10 fresh basil leaves

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 cup fontina cheese, shredded

Pepper and sea salt

1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated

Position oven rack on lowest shelf and preheat to 425 degrees. Lightly oil pizza pan. Roll out dough as thin as possible. Let rest 10 minutes.


In small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage, and cook until browned. Remove from skillet, cool slightly and slice if using links. In same pan, sauté onion and parsley to golden, then stir in garlic and oregano for a few seconds. Add tomatoes to pan, crushing them as they are mixed (do not substitute crushed tomatoes). Boil, stirring 5 minutes or until thick.


Spread sauce over crust, sprinkle with half the basil, mozzarella, fontina, sausage, remaining slices of tomatoes and remaining olive oil. Finish with generous pepper and a little sea salt. Bake for 10 minutes.


Using a spatula and an oven mitt, slip pizza off pan directly onto oven rack, bake for 2 minutes. Slip pizza back onto pan and remove from oven. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and remaining fresh basil.


Makes 4 to 6 servings.


-- Adapted from Johnsonville


Sausage Diavolo Pizza




1 refrigerated pizza dough crust, rolled out thin

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 package hot Italian sausage links

3/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

5 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced

3/4 cup onion, chopped

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 can crushed tomatoes (14 ounces)

1 1/2 cups dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried

Sea salt and pepper

3 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped

1 cup Italian blend cheese, grated

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 long, sweet red pepper, cut into rings

Other fresh herbs such as basil (optional)

Position oven rack to center and preheat to 450 degrees. Lightly oil a pizza pan and roll out crust, thin. In large skillet, heat oil and sauté sausage and red pepper flakes until browned. Remove from heat, drain fat, cool slightly and chop, roughly.


Add garlic and onion to skillet and cook about 5 minutes until onion is soft. Add cherry tomatoes, canned tomatoes, wine and oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer about 20 minutes, stirring when necessary, until cherry tomatoes are soft and sauce thickens. Add parsley and sausage back into skillet. Remove from heat.


Top pizza crust with sausage mixture, grated cheeses and red pepper rings. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and, if desired, sprinkle with fresh herbs.


Makes 4 to 6 servings.


-- From Johnsonville


Homemade Pizza Crust




1 package yeast

1 cup warm water

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 cups flour

2 ½ tablespoons sugar (optional)

Mix yeast in warm water. Add all ingredients and blend thoroughly. Cover and put in warm place for 45 minutes. Spread on two well-greased pizza pans. Add pizza sauce and your favorite toppings.


Note: A warmed oven with a pan of hot water is a good place to let the dough rise.


Makes 2 pizza crusts.


-- From Sharon Michel and “Marvelous Memorial Cuisine” cookbook


Kathryn Rem can be reached at kathryn.rem@sj-r.com.