Remember the other day when I waxed poetic about both the ideally designed new Cast Iron Always Pan and this alluring simple skillet-pizza situation? Welp, since then, we’ve made this exact meal twice over (for those counting, that’s skillet pizza three times this week (guess that nursing hunger is still real at six months…), which feels like reason enough to formally give the recipes a post of their own.
So, here we are. A seriously foolproof recipe for what Lana has deemed “the best pizza she’s ever had” (I won’t make that claim, but it is fuh-reaking tasty) and a salad that’s so mind-blowingly delicious, you’ll find yourself turning to it over and over again when you hit that midweek rut where you stare blankly at the fridge summoning the will to prepare something vaguely vegetable.
And it all comes together with seriously minimal effort. The proof? I assembled both the pizza and the salad in this post while little Elle happily sucked on a toy elephant thing, and it took maaaaybe 20 minutes. And that includes my photog, Carolyn, and me hamming it up quite a bit in the process. So, yeah, simple.
Ditch The Hard Recipes: This Cast-Iron-Skillet Pizza Is A Weekday Dinner Staple
There’s something really special about a pan pizza that just keeps me coming back for more. Maybe it’s the deeply burnished, crisp, olive-oil-soaked crust that feels almost more like focaccia than pizza. Maybe it’s the transition, as you tuck into a slice, from the melty, gooey center to the crunchy, browned edge crowned with lacy cheese. In all likelihood, it’s both — with a dash of nostalgia thrown in for good measure too.
Regardless, it’s a classic for a reason. And this skillet pizza is as easy a recipe as they come: rest dough, smush dough, top and bake. No rolling pin involved. You don’t even need to dirty the countertops with flour, and thanks to a store-bought cheese blend (which I really do think is superior here for this type of pizza), there’s nary a cheese grater in sight.
It’s a recipe — or, rather, a method, really — worth keeping in your back pocket for both a fast weeknight fix or an impressive, low-key entertaining situation. If you’ve got more than one skillet, you can even bake up two at a time.
- 1.5 T olive oil
- 1 lb prepared pizza dough
- 6 oz (typically 1 package) shredded cheese (we always like an "Italian" or "Pizza" blend)
- marinara or pizza sauce
- sliced pepperoni (or other toppings of your choice!)
- basil, micro-greens, grated parmesan and red pepper flakes, for serving
- About an hour before cooking, remove dough from the fridge. Drizzle olive oil into your cold skillet, coating the bottom and sides of the skillet well, and turn the cold dough out into the skillet. Allow the dough to rest like this for about 30 mins.
- Once dough has rested, preheat oven to 450F and position racks in the bottom third and top third of the oven.
- While oven preheats, turn the rested dough well in the oil, then press it as best you can to fit the width of the pan, dimpling it deeply with your fingers. If it still shrinks away from the edges of the pan, that's ok. Allow dough to rest this way while the oven continues to preheat, or about 15 mins.
- When the oven is heated, press the dough back out again to reach the edges of the pan (or near enough). It should be more relaxed now -- soft, slightly puffy and more cooperative about maintaining its shape.
- Time to get topping! Scatter half the cheese over the dough, making sure there's plenty edge-to-edge (we're not aiming to leave a ring of exposed crust like you would with traditional pizza. Rather, you want that cheese nestled right up against the skillet to ensure a browned, lacey crust). Drop the the sauce in tablespoon dollops over the cheese, leaving room between the blobs of sauce. (If it helps to visualize how much to use, imagine a pepperoni pizza, but where the pepperoni is the sauce.) Top the sauce layer with the remaining cheese, then pepperoni to taste.
- Bake pizza on the lower-third rack for 25 mins or until the cheese is bubbling, just turning brown in places, and the pepperoni crisp; if not, return pizza to the top-third of the oven for another 5 mins.
- Allow pizza to cool slightly before loosening it from the skillet with a wooden or silicone spatula. Cut into wedges, top with micro-greens, if using (micro-basil is my favorite here, if you can find it), finely grated parmesan, and pepper flakes. Enjoy!
The method for this recipe is adapted from The New York Times. Of course, you can vary the toppings to suit your taste/diet. While pepperoni is the preferred classic in our house, we also love a variation topped with prosciutto, sliced figs, and thinly sliced red onion (finished with a drizzle of honey after baking); and my favorite veggie option combines salty kalamata olives, chewy sundried tomatoes and pepperoncini.
The Elegant, Easy (Kid-Friendly!) Salad Recipe We’ve Been Making On Repeat
This salad couldn’t be simpler, but the payoff is huge. Tender, mild butter lettuce meets sweet-tart grapefruit (or any snacking citrus fruit, really) and a shower of fresh herbs, and the whole lot is “dressed” with nothing more than a little olive oil and salt. I use a sharp knife to simply peel, quarter and slice the grapefruit (I like to think leaving the segments intact preserves a bit of fiber), but if you want to get fancy, you could absolutely supreme the segments too.
If you’re making this complete meal, the salad easily comes together in the last 10 minutes the pizza is in the oven. (If you plan to make the salad ahead of time, just hold off on adding the olive oil and salt until right before serving). But it’s also become our default salad for a variety of entertaining meals. Even Lana loves it, thanks in large part to its simplicity and that fact that it’s not technically “dressed.”
Oh, and one last bonus: The fixings for this salad are easy to keep on hand. Grapefruit (or oranges) last approximately forever in the fridge, and look for the “living” heads of butter lettuce, with the roots intact, which stay fresh far longer than those wimpy bags of spring mix that tend to get swampy fast. If you keep your fresh herbs wrapped in a paper towel within a zip-lock or resealable silicone bag (we love these), they’ll even last a decent amount of time too.
- 1 large head butter lettuce (I like the kind purchased with the roots intact)
- 1 grapefruit (or navel oranges, cara cara oranges or tangerines will work, too)
- fresh dill, chopped
- fresh chives, finely chopped
- extra virgin olive oil
- flakey salt
- freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- Gently remove lettuce leaves, keeping them whole. Wash them well and spin or pat them dry.
- Using a sharp knife, cut away the rind and pith from the grapefruit. Then quarter it and cut each quarter into thin slices, picking out any seeds you encounter as you go.
- Arrange the lettuce leaves on a serving platter (I usually put the larger leaves at the bottom). Distribute the grapefruit segments over the top. Scatter over the dill and chives. Right before serving, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the flakey salt. If desired, allow diners to add freshly ground black pepper to portions to taste. Enjoy!
This salad is so versatile, and because it employs tender, mild butter lettuce and it's not formally "dressed" (the olive oil and the acidity of the citrus act as dressing, enough), even my particular kiddo loves it. Use any citrus fruit that looks decent in the store. (Cara cara oranges are a favorite, when they're in season.) Looking to make it more of a meal? Add shredded leftover or rotisserie chicken and toasted, sliced almonds.
Honestly, this meal could grace our table a fourth time this week, and I don’t think there’d be any complaints. Not counting, of course, the button on my jeans. But let’s face it. That’s what joggers are for.
Cheers, and happy cooking, friends!
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Food photography by yours truly; all others by Carolyn Stockman.