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Chow? Ciao!

Skillet Pizza, or more authentically Pizza in Padella, is Italian made easy: fresh ingredients, dough just so, cook it!

By Paula Riley

When it’s time to celebrate fall’s cooler evenings and deepening sky with flavorful dishes that can feed a family or a party gathered round the fire pit, inveterate Reno cook Lorena Merighi hand-makes pizza using fresh vegetables from the garden. She serves it with birra (beer), of course! When pressed for time, she says, “quality Italian vegetables preserved in oil and drained well make fine substitutes for fresh.” A Sardinia-born friend of hers inspired this skillet version.

Skillet Pizza (NOTE: Italian cooks weigh ingredients for accurate baking. This recipe for three 10-inch pizzas provides approximate conversions).

For the Dough:
480 grams (3 3/4 cups) Italian 00 flour (preferably pizza flour)
300 grams (1 1/4 cup) warm water
2 grams (3/4 tsp, or 2/3 envelope) dry active yeast
10 grams (2 teaspoons) salt
1 pinch sugar

Toppings (quantities per your personal taste):
Bell peppers
Bratwurst or sausages
Hard-boiled eggs
Shredded mozzarella

Keep yeast and salt from direct contact. In a small bowl place yeast and sugar, then add a little of the warm water. When this foams, mix in a few tablespoons of the flour. In a separate medium bowl, mix the remaining flour and salt; to this dry mixture add the yeast/flour combo and begin adding water, stirring, until all the water is incorporated. Transfer the resulting dough to a floured work surface and knead until it forms a smooth ball. Lightly grease the ball and transfer it to a lightly greased large bowl. Cover bowl with a clean tea towel, leaving dough to double in volume (approximately two hours). Divide the doubled dough into three balls, knead each briefly, then space them in a covered baking dish to double again (approximately four–five more hours).

In the meantime, saute thinly sliced vegetables and sausages until done. Slice eggs, crumble the meat.

Heat your oven-safe skillet at medium-high on the stovetop while you hand stretch or roll each ball of dough into a 10-inch round for the crust. Cook one round in a lightly oiled skillet and while it cooks, top with veggies and meat (1/3 of your total), then sprinkle with cheese. When the round is crisp on the bottom, place the skillet under the broiler to melt the cheese and finish the cooking. (Tip: A baking sheet works for the broiling phase, allowing you to start the next pizza in the skillet.)

Photo of Couple

Lorena Mreighi and Marco Ciurnelli. Photo by Paula Riley.

About the Cook

Originally from northern Italy, Lorena Merighi and her photographer husband, Marco Ciurnelli, own and operate Bella Italia, a specialty food store located in Reno’s Arlington Gardens Mall.

She also teaches cooking and prepares custom Italian meals in clients’ homes. “I love to cook. I started cooking with my mom…who was a phenomenal cook,” Merighi says. “I probably was 4, putting my hands in the family tortellini production.” These decades later, she experiments with recipes and ingredients (like fresh zucchini blossoms) and posts cooking how-to videos online as friends and family cheer her on—and savor the finished products.

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