One of my favorite lessons I have learned over the past year is a simple one. We need fun. We need to find it and make it whenever we can. When life is feeling stressful and serious? That’s when we need it the most. An easy way to make some fun at home is through a good old-fashioned pizza night. We make pizzas at home a handful of times throughout the year, and every time it feels like a party.

While there is prep time involved, once the dough is ready, the making and baking of the pizzas can go as fast or leisurely as you want. It’s also a natural activity for kids and grown-up kids (that’s us) as there is plenty to do to keep hands busy; dough needs flattening, sauce needs spreading, and cheese and toppings need sprinkling. When it comes to the type of crust, sauce and toppings, the possibilities are endless, but I wanted to share some of my favorite pizza night recipes with you. Pick and choose which ones sound best to you. The only requirement for pizza night is fun!

Pizza night

Makes: 6 pizzas for 6-10 people

For classic pizza dough:

21/2 cups warm water

1 teaspoon dry yeast

5¼ cups bread flour

2 teaspoons honey

4 teaspoons flaky sea salt

extra-virgin olive oil

extra flour for dusting board

For cauliflower “dough”:

2 large heads of cauliflower, cut into florets

2 eggs

2 cups almond flour

4 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

For one-minute pizza sauce:

3 large, ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges

3 garlic cloves

handful of fresh basil leaves

pinch of salt

couple twists of black pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

For cashew arugula sauce:

¾ cup raw cashews

1 tablespoons avocado oil

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

¼ red onion, sliced

1 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk

salt and pepper to taste

4 cups of arugula

For the hot honey (for crust dipping):

¼ cup honey

2 teaspoons dried crushed red chile

To finish the pizza:

gather your favorite pizza toppings

1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese

To make the classic dough: Mix together water and yeast. Add flour, honey and rest 5 minutes. Add salt and knead for 15 minutes by hand or 10 minutes with a dough hook in a stand mixer. Move dough to a floured work surface and fold over four sides. Drizzle olive oil in a large bowl and let dough rise for 45 minutes. Fold again and let rise another 45 minutes. Cut dough into 6 pieces. Fold into balls. drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, cover and let rise for another 45 minutes.

To make the cauliflower “dough”: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor or use a box grater until the cauliflower resembles small grains of rice. Transfer the cauliflower to a parchment lined sheet tray and roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Once cool enough to handle (around 15 minutes), transfer cauliflower to a nut milk bag or fine mesh strainer and start squeezing/pressing out as much liquid as possible. Once you feel like you can’t remove any more water, transfer this cauliflower to a large bowl. Add egg, almond flour, garlic powder, sea salt and pepper. Mix well. On a large parchment lined sheet tray, press out cauliflower dough with your hands into six flat pizza rounds. The thinner the crust, the crispier it will be. Bake in the 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Carefully flip the crust over (placing another piece of parchment on top and gently flipping with your hand will help). Cook for another 5 minutes and remove from the oven until you are ready to add toppings and finish pizza.

To make the one-minute pizza sauce: Buzz all ingredients into a blender. Boom — you’re done.

To make the cashew arugula sauce: Prepare the cashews. You can either soak them in cool water overnight in the fridge or soak them for 30 minutes in boiling water. After soaking, drain them and reserve. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, add oil. Add the garlic and onion and cook until caramelized to a golden brown (but not burned). Add the almond milk, salt and pepper and arugula. Let simmer until arugula is completely wilted and incorporated into the sauce. Carefully blend this mixture in a blender until smooth.

To make the hot honey: Combine honey and crushed chile in a saucepan over low heat for around 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a glass jar and let cool to room temperature. Serve this on the table for crust dipping.

To assemble and bake the pizzas: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees or as hot as your oven goes. If you have a pizza stone, use it. Otherwise find all the sheet trays you have in the house. Line them with parchment paper. Gather your people and let people pick their dough ball (or prepared cauliflower crust) and let them spread it out and form their pizza shape. Spoon sauce on top, leaving as much crust as you want around the border. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese and any other topping you want. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown, or a bit darker depending on your preference. Transfer pizza to a cutting board to cut and serve. Serve with hot honey on the side for crust dipping.

Marianne Sundquist is a chef, food business consultant and shares recipes for home cooks on Instagram @chefmariannesundquist. She co-founded Stokli in 2020, an online general store with a mission to champion local growers and makers of dry goods. Visit stokli.com and email her at marianne@stokli.com.

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