My Valentine table for two

By Don Bingham

Though it is difficult to really define love, and to do so would take volume after volume of written experience, history and tradition, Nancy and I often enjoy a simple night of carefree dining to celebrate any special occasion — especially Valentine’s Day! One of our favorite dishes during our dating days was the timeless and ever-popular dating feast — PIZZA! 

Our first date (56 years ago!) was on a snowy-icy February 14 night, when I was a freshman in college in Birmingham, Ala. You might know, as we were leaving her dorm for the car, I managed to slip on the ice-covered path and made a royal thud on the ground! I was trying so hard to impress, to be the manly choice of Nancy’s dreams, and this hilarious fall began the evening of memories that would last a lifetime. We were headed for a local pizza establishment, where stromboli, steak sandwiches and pizzas were their specialty. And as with many couples, pizza has remained one of our favorite “go-to’s” for relaxed and fun dining!

When we published our first cookbook, we had studied with a well-known celebrity chef, who gave us these unique but simple recipes for crust and tomato sauce. We have tweaked it through the years, and the crust recipe remains the same (makes wonderful sticks and bread for tomato sauce dunking) and have simplified the recipe to include our favorite toppings, pepperoni and green olives. You can make the topping and sauce from the original recipe or adapt them to toppers of your choice, or even purchase a can of your favorite tomato sauce from the grocery shelf. The important thing is to enjoy each other and savor the flavors of a love affair with pizza!

Pizza Crust

1 package yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. granulated sugar

1 tsp. salt

2/3 cup warm water

3 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes. Put olive oil, sugar, salt and water in a mixer bowl. Add yeast mixture. Beat in flour, 1 cup at a time. Will be stiff. Knead 5 minutes. Let rest for 30 minutes. Punch down. Stretch dough into a 10″ pizza pan.

Pizza Toppings

4 cups onion, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tsp. garlic

2 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

2-3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese

6 ounces goat cheese (or your favorite cheese)

1/2 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes

8 quartered green or black olives

Parsley, chopped

Saute chopped onions in olive oil, garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes. Spread onions over dough. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Crumble goat cheese. Sprinkle with tomatoes and olives. Bake 10-15 minutes more, until the crust is done. Dust with chopped parsley.

Don Bingham
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