Pizza is marvelous food. Not because it comes in a million different versions. For purists, the thought of pineapple or shrimp is heresy, for authentic pizza naturally rises to the top of the food greatness pyramid. Well made, there is nothing better.

And making great pizza at home is actually within your grasp. The starting point is Pizza, Anyway You Slice It by Charles and Michele Scicolone. I believe that Charles wrote the book with significant help from Michele. Very significant.

Charles is a wine expert, but you should watch him make pizza. There is this very knowing smile on his face as the dough whirls in his hands, arcs through the air, and falls to his grasp for yet another spin.

Suzen has become a pizza pro using this wonderful book. I simply build a fire, tend it, and move the pizza around in our oven. You don’t need a wood fired oven for these recipes, but it’s a nice touch.

On our last pizza night, Suzen made it classic, simple and delicious: thin dough, fresh mozzarella, select prosciutto, and aromatic arugula. I’m including Michele’s terrific sauce recipe below. For making the dough, I truly believe you should consult this book and see Charles’ detailed tips on creating authentic dough by hand. The Scicolone’s have spent uncountable days in Italy watching real pizza being made, tasting the marvel of fresh from the oven, and experimenting with how to get Italian flavor in an American kitchen with American ingredients. They have succeeded beautifully.

Take a look at Pizza, Anyway You Slice It. This isn’t just “anyway” pizza. It’s perfect.

Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza

Ingredients:

Prepared dough for one-nine inch pizza [please consult Pizza]
About ½ cup Simple Pizza Sauce


2 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1 cup arugula, touch stems removed
3 to 4 thin slices prosciutto

Preparation:

At least 30 minutes to an hour before you plan to bake your pizza, place the oven rack on the lowest level and arrange a stone or tiles on top. Heat the oven to the maximum temperature, 500° t0 550° F.

Place the dough on a floured surface. Holding your hands flat, pat the ball out evenly with your fingers, lifting it and turning it over several times, until it reaches a 9-inch circle. Do not handle the dough any more than is necessary. If the dough seems sticky, dust it lightly with flour.

Dust a pizza peel or a rimless cookie sheet with flour. Carefully transfer the circle  dough to the peel. Shake the peel once or twice to make sure the dough does not stick. If it does, sprinkle the peel with more flour.

Spread the tomato sauce on the dough, leaving a ½-inch border. Arrange the mozzarella slices on top.

To slide the pizza onto the prepared baking stone, line up the edge of the peel with the back edge of the stone, then tile the peel, jerking it gently to start the pizza moving. Once the edge of the pizza touches the stone, carefully pull back on the peel until the pizza is completely off. When the pizza is on the stone, don not attempt to move it until it firms up in 2-3 minutes.

Bake 6 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is crisp and browned. Remove the pizza from the oven. Arrange the arugula over the cheese. Place the prosciutto to top. Serve immediately.

Michele’s Simple Pizza Sauce

Ingredients:

1 can (28 ounces) Italian peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, with their juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt

Preparation:

In a large saucepan, combine the tomatoes, oil and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Let the sauce cool before spreading it on the pizza dough.

Source: Pizza, Anyway You Slice It by Charles and Michele Scicolone