- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Takeout pizza prices have nearly reached the outrageous. Seriously, buy some frozen puff pastry and stash it in your freezer. Or buy a pre-baked pizza crust and have it ready in the refrigerator.

Then the next Friday night that rolls around or the next time you have that craving for pizza, put down the phone and get chopping.

Not only can you create a better pizza in your own kitchen, but you can create some fun and wonderful memories for your family as you cook together.

The puff-pastry pizza that follows can be served for dinner along with a salad or in smaller portions as an elegant appetizer.

Whether baked on a metal sheet pan or on a pizza stone, this pizza turns out crisp and delicious every time. Add a green salad or fruit, then ice cream sundaes for dessert.


Artichoke and feta puff-pastry pizza and/or other homemade pizzas of your choice

Green salad or fruit salad skewers

Ice cream sundaes

Time-shaving pizza tips: Begin with a pre-baked pizza crust and layer on something good, then bake until bubbly.

• Top with marinated mozzarella balls and slices of fresh tomato.

• Scatter thinly sliced cooked sausage and quickly sauteed baby bella mushrooms over pizza sauce, and top with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese.

• Spoon thawed frozen chopped spinach onto the crust. Add spoonfuls of ricotta cheese, a generous sprinkling of dried oregano, chopped marinated artichoke hearts and a healthy sprinkling of shredded mozzarella cheese.

• Spread crust with pizza sauce or salsa. Top with ground beef that has been cooked with taco seasoning. Add drained canned corn or black beans, chopped scallion and a Mexican blend of shredded cheese.

• Brush the crust with olive oil, and bake until lightly browned and heated through. Smear on a thin coating of mayonnaise, and add chopped onion, black pepper, crumbled bacon, shredded lettuce and chopped tomato for a BLT pizza.

Artichoke and feta puff-pastry pizza

The preparation time is 10 to 12 minutes, and the baking time is 20 to 25 minutes.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of a 17.3-ounce package)

cup drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

1 6-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained

1 cup (4 ounces) pre-crumbled feta cheese

1/3 cup pre-chopped pecans or pine nuts, optional

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or teaspoon dried oregano

Place puff pastry on a baking sheet or pizza stone and let it thaw while you prepare the toppings.

Chop the sun-dried tomatoes and the artichoke hearts. Unfold puff pastry and roll it out to an 8-inch square or an 8-by-10-inch rectangle, using a rolling pin.

Sprinkle on feta cheese followed by the chopped tomatoes, artichokes, nuts, if using, and oregano.

Bake in preheated 400-degree oven until pastry puffs up tall and is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove pan from oven, immediately cut pizza into squares with a pizza cutter and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


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