My kids could easily eat pizza for all three meals (and probably have, on a bad day). Since it’s such a favorite, I’m always looking for ways to make pizza a little bit healthier, and homemade is the way to go. This weekend we put a fun spin on traditional make-your-own pizzas with these homemade pizza pinwheels.
Letting kids make their own provides a good 30 minutes of entertainment, plus dinner is made. Plus, you control the quality of the toppings and they control what goes on their pies. That means fewer preservatives and other hidden unhealthy stuff you’d get if you ordered in and no complaining. Everybody wins.
Make (or Buy) Pizza Dough
If you plan on making pizza dough from scratch, you’ll want to start with that. I like this pizza dough recipe from Bobby Flay, but it takes a couple of hours (which is why it should be step one!). Otherwise, buy a round of dough from your favorite local pizzeria or the bakery section of your grocery store. My bakery will even roll it flat for me if I ask, which is a huge help! When using store-bought dough, though, start the pizza making process by prepping the sauce (see below) and make rolling the dough step two instead.
Whether you do it first or second, rolling pizza dough is the perfect job for little hands. Even when I have the store roll it out first, I let the kids have at it for a little while before coming in behind them to shape it into a really thin rectangle. And I mean really thin. We’ve made pizza pinwheels with dough that wasn’t rolled thin enough and they were huge, puffy blobs of pizza goodness. Tasty, but not exactly the pinwheels we were looking for.
Prep Pizza Sauce
Though you can buy pizza sauce at the store, I prefer using one made from scratch. Not only is it more wholesome than nearly every pizza sauce on the market, but I can control the flavor. You know how pizza sauce can be kind of sweet? We’re not so into that—or the extra sugar. And when making homemade pizza sauce is so easy to do, why not—right?
My pizza sauce recipe below can be made two ways: easy and easier. The easy method is to cook everything for few minutes before blending, which I like to do so that all the flavors meld together. The easier method is to just blend and top—no cooking necessary. It works great, too, especially if you’re in a rush. Either way, my bigger kids love blending the sauce themselves using an immersion blender. . . and are always willing to clean the tomato sauce spray off the cabinets and backsplash. A fair trade.
Don’t Skimp on Toppings!
With both the dough and sauce prepped, it’s time to make some pizza! Spread the pizza sauce on top of the dough, and then layer on the cheese and your favorite toppings. We tried sausage (cooked and crumbled ahead of time) and green peppers; olives, Parmesan, and Italian seasoning; and, of course, pepperoni and cheese. Hint: Mini pepperoni are really fun, because everything tiny is fun for kids. (We like Applegate Farms pepperoni, because if it’s good enough for our cheese plate, it’s good enough for pizza pinwheels!)
Roll ‘Em Up
With toppings combined just the way each kid wants them, it’s time to roll up the dough. Arrange the rectangle of dough so that the long side is horizontal in front of you, and start with the edge farthest away from you. Roll it toward you really tightly, tucking in the loose toppings as you go. Then, pinch the edge together all along the side of the roll.
Cut, Bake & Eat
Cut each roll into 2-inch slices and arrange them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If you have a few cooks with different toppings, you can use a sharpie on the parchment paper to indicate which pinwheels belong to each kid. Disaster averted.
Bake them at 375° for about 20 minutes or until they’re cooked through and the cheese is bubbly. Give them a few minutes to cool off, then time to eat. Perfect!
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 12-ounce can tomato paste
1/2 cup diced onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1. No cook method: Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until desired consistency. Use the puree to top your pizzas; this yields a bright, snappy tomato sauce with a lot of flavor.
2. Quick cook method: Place all of the ingredients in a medium pot set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer, reducing heat if necessary, for 20 minutes, allowing the flavors to come together. Using an immersion or stand blender, puree until desired consistency (if using a stand blender, you may need to do this in batches). Cool before using the puree to top your pizzas; this yields a heartier and more savory sauce.