Deep Dish Pizza with Arugula

I don’t know where to begin with this pizza. It was good—so good that I ate leftover slices for lunch and dinner on Monday.

The pizza was inspired by several recent revelations in the kitchen. For starters, the bread in 5 minutes a day dough recipe makes great pizza crust. I’ve baked delicious pizzas in the oven and on the grill using my refrigerated dough. For another, I’ve learned that baking loaves of said dough on my big cast iron skillet, rather than a baking sheet, produces crispier, crustier bread. The authors of the book recommend using a pizza stone, but they’re expensive and I’m getting by just fine with my cast iron skillet.

The idea for this pizza struck me last week. If I can bake flat bread in my cast iron skillet, surely I can bake a pizza, I thought. At twelve inches in diameter, with deep, sloping sides, the skillet is just the right size for deep dish. And while I’m at it, why not top my pizza with the arugula I picked up at the farmer’s market this weekend? I’m crazy for the arugula-topped pizza at The Wedge, a local pizzeria with a brick oven.

I invited my friend Matt over and we gave it a shot. We improvised along the way, basing our decisions on his recollection of a deep dish pizza story on a cooking show, and my memories of mouthwatering deep dish pizzas at Giordano’s, which is always my first stop after the long drive to Chicago.

The pizza didn’t turn out 100% perfect, but it was close. Round two will surely be better. I’ll explain what we did in each photo, and what changes I’ll make next time. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

First, we coated the inside of the skillet with olive oil. I pulled out a refrigerated ball of dough about the size of a large orange. Next time, I’ll use a little more dough (about a grapefruit-sized ball) so the crust will be a little thicker.

I used my rolling pin to roll out the dough until it was several inches in diameter wider than the base of the skillet. We lifted the dough into the skillet, and I pressed the dough against the sides of the skillet. Then I sprinkled it with dried basil, oregano and garlic. We baked it in the oven for five minutes at 500 degrees.

We then sprinkled a layer of shredded cheese (Matt’s idea) over the crust. We added fresh basil from my herb garden, and asparagus, red bell pepper, red onions, and jalapenos. Next time I’ll go without the jalapenos, because the arugula and sauce were plenty spicy.

We smothered the cheese and vegetables with organic marinara sauce. The sauce wasn’t thick enough; next time we’ll make our own with tomato paste and other ingredients. Or I might just try straining the sauce in a colander, if that seems easier when the time comes.

Then we sprinkled on a layer of freshly grated parmesan and more mozzarella.

The more cheese, the better, right?

We baked the pizza at 500 degrees for a little under 15 minutes. I was surprised it didn’t take longer.

As you can see, the sauce was a little too saucy.

We agreed that topping it off with spicy, fresh arugula was exactly what the pizza needed. I highly recommend it.

What do you think? There’s a lot to like about this pizza. While it was filling, I didn’t feel like I need a nap afterward, like I usually do after eating a lot of greasy cheese and white bread. One slice filled me up, so one 12 inch pizza could easily feed four to six people. Lastly, it was surprisingly easy to put together and didn’t take long to bake. It’s a new favorite!

Have you ever eaten authentic Chicago deep dish? If you have any suggestions or input, please share! I’m eager to hear what you have to say about deep dish pizza.


    • says

      Thanks, Charissa! I just poured in some olive oil and used a paper towel to spread it evenly on the bottom and sides of the pan. It worked great!

  1. says

    This looks so tasty! I’ll admit, I’m usually more fond of thin crust pizzas, but I love the idea of a deep dish pizza with whole wheat dough, lots of veggies, and good organic tomato sauce. And of course, lots of yummy cheese!

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