Three-Cheese Calzones with Marinara and Salame Toscano

IMG_1166It was a busy day here in the Solberg house, as we are preparing for Spring’s arrival (someday).  There was cleaning to do on every level of the house, by every member of the household.  There was some initial lawnwork to be done – don’t ask – and both the Twins and the Wild were playing.   In the midst of this there was grocery shopping, laundry to be done, a soccer game and a soccer practice.  Busy, busy, busy!

With all of that, Cath looked over her dinner menu for the day and decided, “I don’t think I want this.  Can you make a pizza dough so we can have calzones?”  Are you kidding?  I always have time to make pizza dough.  Especially for calzones!

We hadn’t made this particular recipe before, and Cath assembled the ingredients for the filling ahead of time.  That was very thoughtful, as all I needed to do was make the crusts and then actually bake them.  The last few times we’ve made calzones they were pretty tough, and I have to take full responsibility.  I worked far too much flour into the dough, and it became very difficult to use.  In addition, I’ve never really measured out that dough, and when it came time to make an individual calzone there was just too much crust!

I’ve learned a lot about pizza dough from my experience with the recipes from Bon Appetit, and that experience served me well here.  I didn’t have the 18 hours of rise time I needed for that crust (no exaggeration!), but I was able to give this crust an extended rise throughout the day.  I also worked in the bare minimum amount of flour needed, so that it was quite sticky.  I’ve found that a high moisture content is a key for producing texture that is crispy on the outside, yet tender and chewy on the inside.  Finally, there was almost no kneading of the dough.  I mixed it, let it rise, and that was about it.

One last key to the success of this dough?  I actually measured it out – gasp! – to ensure I used what the recipe called for.  I know, that just sounds wrong doesn’t it?  Turns out it’s a pretty good idea.  I cut off what I thought was the right amount for a single calzone, and then, for kicks, I decided to weigh it.  The recipe specified each crust to be a quarter pound of dough, but when I measured mine I found I had 8 ounces.  Twice as much!  I was a little shocked, but I dutifully cut the dough in half, rolled it into a ball and let it rise for another 45 minutes.  It didn’t look like it would be enough at all, but it worked perfectly.  Who knew?  Lesson learned; when in doubt measure your ingredients.

These calzones were simple, but they tasted terrific.  We served them with a warmed marinara sauce for dipping, as well as a few slices of Salame Toscano from the deli at our local market.  The cheese filling was a savory mixture of the cheese flavors, and I think I enjoyed the ricotta most of all.  The crust was very light and crispy, with the thicker portions on the ends being delightfully chewy.  The warm marinara was perfect for dipping, and we complemented this flavor with a glass of Spanish red tempranillo we had left over from the evening before.  The salame toscano provided a rich contrast to the cheese flavors, which really helped to make this meal interesting with the changes in flavor in every bite.  In all it was a wonderfully hearty meal for the end of a very busy Sunday.



  • 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 8 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound prepared pizza dough, at room temperature
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Marinara sauce, warmed, for dipping
  • 4 ounces sliced salame toscano


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  NOTE:  We are big believers in the pizza stone, and that’s what I used for this recipe.  I placed the stones in the oven, and then preheated to 450 degrees F. for 45 minutes to ensure they were at the proper temperature.
  2. Make the filling: Mix the mozzarella, ricotta, basil, scallions, 1/4 cup parmesan and the breadcrumbs in a medium bowl until combined. Divide the pizza dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface into a 7-to-8-inch round.
  3. Spoon one-quarter of the filling onto one half of each dough round, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Lightly brush the edges of the dough with some of the beaten egg; fold the dough over the filling and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Transfer the calzones to the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Brush the calzones with the remaining beaten egg and cut 2 slits in the top of each to let steam escape. Sprinkle the calzones with the remaining 2 teaspoons parmesan, then bake until golden brown and cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve with marinara sauce and the salami toscano.

Jay’s Signature Pizza Crust

NOTE: I honestly don’t know who Jay is, but I found his pizza crust recipe years ago and it’s been a staple in our house.  It’s very tasty, and wherever Jay is I hope he knows we appreciate it very much!


  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour


  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour.
  3. Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out. Use for your favorite pizza recipe.

Fire Roasted Tomato & Ricotta Pizza

Okay, everyone, let’s give it up once again for the good people at Bon Appetit magazine!  Honestly, when it comes to cooking magazines I’m an easy mark.  I was walking through the Kowalski’s Market near work, innocently looking for lunch of some sort, when I saw the cover photo of the March 2012 issue and knew immediately that I had to have it.  It was a brilliantly colorful image (of course) of a Tomato & Stracciatella Pizza with a big headline that read “Make Pizza Like a Pro”.  It was a wonderful rustic looking thing, with charred bits on the edges of the crust, and dotted with swirled dollops of a creamy cheese which I later learned was stracciatella.

Hmm.  Pizza like a pro sounded like a challenge, and I have to admit I’m getting to be pretty confident with my pizza skills.  It’s not always perfect, but it’s usually pretty darned good.  But right below that bold headline it said “Pie Master Jim Lahey Shares His Secrets”, and at that point I knew I had to have it.  Blast you, Marketing staff at Bon Appetit!

So, fast forward to the results:  I did learn something from this article, and I’m glad they pushed my buttons to make me buy it.  First, I learned how to get tomatoes onto my pie without going for the can of sauce.  I don’t mind sauce, but it really isn’t a favorite in my house.  My girls are partial to the sauceless variety, with a layering of extra virgin olive oil instead.  I did brush the crust with olive oil, but the addition of crushed tomatoes was wonderful.  I will say that the original recipe calls for canned tomatoes, and I trusted my instincts and substituted canned fire-roasted tomatoes instead.  Big flavor win!

Secondly, the method for making crust here takes more time (overnight), but the resulting texture is something that I’ve been wanting to create for a long, long time.  It definitely required some skill in handling, but the slightly wet and sticky dough yielded a crust that was crispy on the bottom but light and chewy everywhere else.  I’ll go back to my other methods for crust from time to time, but this is probably my favorite of any I’ve made.  We were very happy with this pie.

To sum it up: thanks Jim Lahey for sharing your secrets!  We’re pizza hounds in this house, and you just made our dining experience a little bit better!  I can’t wait to apply these methods to some of my tried-and-true ingredient combinations to see what happens.  Bon Appetit!

Crust (2 pizzas):


  • 3-3/4 Cup All-Purpose Unbleached Flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast


Whisk flour, salt and yeast in a medium bowl.  While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add 1-1/2 cups of warm water; stir until well incorporated.  Mix dough gently with your hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball.  Transfer to a large clean bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature (about 72 degrees F) in a draft-free area until surface is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, about 18 hours (time will vary depending on the temperature in the room).

Transfer dough to a floured work surface.  Gently shape into a rough rectangle.  Divide into two equal portions.  Working with one portion at a time, gather four corners to center to create four folds.  Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball.  Dust dough with flour; set aside on a work surface or a floured baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining portion.

Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about one hour.



  • 1 ball of dough for crust
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup freshly shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ricotta cheese
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt
  • extra virgin olive oil


During last hour of dough’s resting, prepare oven:  place pizza stone on rack in upper third of oven.  Preheat the oven to its hottest setting:  500-550 degrees F for one hour.

To prepare tomatoes, place contents of the can (with juices) in a stainless steel bowl, and crush with your hands.  Alternatively, puree in a blender.

Working with one dough ball, dust dough generously with flour and place on a floured work surface.  Gently shape dough into a disk.  Sprinkle pizza peel (or cutting board) lightly with flour.  Place dough disk on peel.  Drizzle olive oil over the crust.  Spread 1/2 of the crushed tomatoes over the crust, almost to the edges.  Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the crust, leaving approximately 1/2″ of the crust uncovered.

Using small back-and-forth movements, slide pizza from the peel onto the hot pizza stone.  Bake for 7-9 minutes, or until well browned on top.

Remove pizza from oven, and allow to rest on pizza stone.  Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt, then sprinkle with red pepper flakes.  Place dollops of ricotta cheese in random locations on the top of the pie, and then sprinkle the oregano to taste.


Buona Lisa Pizza

It’s so easy to fall victim to hyperbole when blogging about food, so I want to be careful to say this accurately:  I think this may have been the best pizza I’ve ever made.


There, I think that says it about right.  It was the best, and that from a guy who has made some pretty darned good pizza along the way.  If I do say so myself. 

I wasn’t sure when I first saw the recipe.  I mean, I like everything on it.  Maybe it was the mood I was in, or the way the day had gone.  Or something.  Whatever, when we took the first bite we were blown away by the flavor of roasted garlic.  In the second bite the hot pulp of the cherry tomatoes literally exploded in the mouth.  On the next we found the smoky sweetness of the yellow peppers that I had roasted on the grill earlier that day.  And then, a personal favorite, toasted pine nuts.  Throughout, the creamy goat cheese provided an incredible backdrop.  And then it all began again, bite after bite, flavor after flavor.  Sublime.

We paired this pizza with a Tuscan Sangiovese from Antinori, and the combination was intense and wonderful.  We knew it would be, and we weren’t disappointed.  There are days when you get it right, and this meal was right.

We found the recipe in the October 2009 issue of Food Network Magazine, and it originates from a restaurant in Long Beach, CA called Buono’s.  I’ve never been there,  but if this is a staple, I’m happy to recommend it to you.  If anyone is lucky enough to go there, please stop back and leave a comment.  I’d love to hear all about it.


  • 1/2 cup thin strips roasted yellow or red peppers
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup sliced fresh basil
  • 3 cloves garlic; 1 minced, 2 sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound pizza dough, thawed if frozen
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • Cornmeal, for dusting
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 ounces provolone cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled


Place a pizza stone or an inverted rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees.

Toss the roasted peppers, tomatoes, basil and minced garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Cook the sliced garlic in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until golden, about 1 minute. Cool slightly.

Stretch or roll out the pizza dough into a 12-to-14-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Generously dust a pizza peel or another inverted baking sheet with cornmeal and place the dough on top. Drizzle with a little of the garlic oil and season with salt. Top with the mozzarella, provolone and tomato-pepper mixture, then sprinkle with the pine nuts and sliced garlic.

Slip the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone or baking sheet and cook until the crust is golden and crisp and the cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes. Top with goat cheese before slicing.


Pecorino with Lamb and Leek Pizza

Pecorino with Lamb and Leek Pizza

Don’t tell the kids, but it appears I have a thing for lamb.  Every now and then I have a craving for the delicously rich flavor of lamb, and this pizza from Food & Wine magazine certainly satisfied my need.  Thankfully, ground lamb is becoming readily available at better grocery stores!

I did have a little adventure in shopping for my ingredients.  I shopped our local Byerly’s Market, where they have an incredible selection of cheeses from all over the world.  So much so that I spent a good amount of time hunched over a cooler trying to find the truffled pecorino as listed in the ingredients.  Finally, the cheese specialist came over to ask if I had any questions.  I stifled the urge to ask when the grocery stores started having cheese specialists, and instead inquired about pecorino.  She told me that she’d never had anyone ask for plain pecorino, as it was usually Pecorino Romano.  I agreed, and considered substituting something else as, in my experience, the Pecorino Romano was usually pretty sharp and salty.  I didn’t think I wanted that for a pizza.  She pointed me instead to a brand called Cubeddu, imported from Italy by a company in Denmark, Wisconsin.  She explained that it was a creamier, less salty Pecorino Romano, and so I decided to give it a try.  Wow!  This is fantastic, and I urge you to bring some home if you happen to find it in your market.  It was a great complement to the earthy flavor of the lamb and sauteed leeks, and I highly recommend it.

The recipe calls for a Pinot Noir to enjoy with this pizza, and I think that would be an excellent choice as well.  We’ve always enjoyed Pinot Noir with deep, rich flavors such as lamb and mushrooms, and here it would be great.  We didn’t happen to have one on hand (the cellar is getting low!), so instead we enjoyed a bottle of Yellow Tail Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon, and that was pretty darned good as well.

This is just a wonderful gathering of flavors, and we enjoyed it greatly.  You may want to do the same.

(Lesson for the day:  Pecorino is from the Italian word “Pecora”, meaning sheep.  Now you know!) 


  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 1/2 pounds pizza dough, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 large leeks, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 pound ground lamb
  • 32 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 pound truffled pecorino cheese, thinly sliced


Preheat the oven to 500°. Heat a pizza stone on the bottom of the oven for 45 minutes. (Alternatively, heat a large inverted baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven for 5 minutes.)

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each piece of dough to a 7-inch round. Oil 3 large baking sheets and place the dough rounds on the sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 8 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Add the lamb, season with salt and pepper and cook until no pink remains, about 5 minutes.

Generously flour a pizza peel. Place a dough round on the peel and brush with olive oil. Top with some of the leeks, lamb, tomatoes and pecorino cheese. Slide the dough round onto the hot stone or baking sheet and bake for about 4 minutes, until bubbling and crisp. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and serve.

Chicken, Red Grape and Pesto Pizza

Chicken Red Grape and Pesto Pizza

Grapes and pesto on a pizza?  We’ve enjoyed some interesting flavors on our pizzas over the years, but I’m not sure that red grapes and pesto were ever among the choices.  Maybe that’s why we thought we had to give this recipe a try when we found it in the September 2009 issue of Cooking Light Magazine.  I’m very happy we did.

This pizza was an excellent example of how the flavors of certain foods mellow and change as they are roasted in a 475 degree oven.  As we assembled the ingredients, the scent of the thinly sliced oregano and the roasted chicken were nearly overwhelming, and we wondered how this was going to play out in the finished product.  Not to worry!  After only twelve minutes in the hot stove, the garlic was mellow and earthy and delicious.  The grapes took on an incredible savoriness, and their flavor married incredibly with the now warmed pesto.

One note, the recipe calls for refrigerated thin-crust pizza dough, but anyone who knows me knows that I always make my own pizza crusts.  In this case I used the “Olive Oil Dough” recipe from “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day“, by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.  I use 1/4 of the dough from a batch of their standard recipe, and then bake the pizza for 12 minutes at 475 degrees on a baking stone.  The flavor is incredible, and it’s well worth the extra effort.

This was a fantastic pizza, perhaps one of my new favorites.  I didn’t actually try the wine suggestion from the magazine, but I have to think that a crisp sauvignon blanc would be a wonderful complement.  I recommend you give this pizza a try when you’re feeling just a little adventurous.  I’m sure you’ll be surprised and pleased!


  • 1 (11-ounce) can refrigerated thin-crust pizza dough
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup refrigerated pesto
  • 1 1/2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
  • 8 ounces shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions


  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, pat dough into a 12-inch circle; gently place dough on a pizza pan coated with cooking spray. Spread pesto evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edges. Arrange grapes evenly over dough; top evenly with chicken. Top with garlic and mozzarella; sprinkle with Romano and pepper. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Sprinkle with onions. Cut into 12 wedges.

White Pizza with Arugula


We lean toward pizza in our lists of favorite foods, but because of the incredible variety of possible flavors I really don’t mind.  This recipe, from Ina Garten of the Food Network, is a case in point.  The photos were terrific, but I don’t think they adequately prepared us for the different levels of flavor we experienced. 

This wasn’t, of course, the powerful blast of flavor we expect from a more Italian pizza.  In this case, it was layers of summery treats like lemon and fontina, along with the sharp bite of a bitter arugula.  The goat cheese provided a rich mouthfeel, which was contrasted expertly by the garlic and red pepper flakes.  We enjoyed this as a knife and fork pizza, and we were only sorry when it was finally ended.  I’m a Food Network fan, and The Barefoot Contessa is probably my favorite chef.  A meal like this will tell you why.  Enjoy!


For the dough:

  • 1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110) water
  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Good olive oil
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

For the topping:

  • 3 cups grated Italian fontina cheese (8 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated fresh mozzarella cheese (7 ounces)
  • 11 ounces creamy goat cheese, such as montrachet, crumbled

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces baby arugula
  • 1 lemon, sliced


Mix the dough.

Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

Knead by hand.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic.

Let it rise.

Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Make garlic oil.

Place 1/2 cup of olive oil, the garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (Be sure your oven is clean!)

Portion the dough.

Dump the dough onto a board and divide it into 6 equal pieces. Place the doughs on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Stretch the dough.

Press and stretch each ball into an 8-inch circle and place 2 circles on each sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (If you’ve chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature.)

Top the dough.

Brush the pizzas with the garlic oil, and sprinkle each one liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the pizzas evenly with fontina, mozzarella and goat cheese. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon more of the garlic oil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are crisp and the cheeses begin to brown.

Make the vinaigrette.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Add the greens.

When the pizzas are done, place the arugula in a large bowl and toss with just enough lemon vinaigrette to moisten. Place a large bunch of arugula on each pizza and a slice of lemon and serve immediately.

Sausage and Red Pepper Mini Deep-Dish Pizza


Santa had our passion for pizza in mind this year, as he brought Cath a set of four mini deep-dish pizza pans from Williams-Sonoma.  (Apparently, the elves needed to save a little time this year!)  To test them we decided to make this delicious pizza with some of our favorite ingredients.  The red peppers were sauteed rather than roasted, but their smoky sweetness was still tremendous with the tang of the hot Italian sausage.  We also upped the flavor of the tomatoes with a hit of balsamic vinegar.  For us, it’s a must.  As an accompaniment, I also enjoyed a Samuel Adams Boston Lager, using the new Sam Adams glasses which Santa brought me!  This dinner was delicious, and we owe it to to the fat man.  Thanks, Santa!

Ingredients for pizza crust:

  • 1 cup very warm water
  • 1 pkg bread yeast (2-1/2 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3/4 cups all purpose bread flour

Ingredients for pizza topping:

  • 3-1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • Kosher and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 lb hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 slices provolone cheese
  • 1/4 lb mozzarella cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar


In the bowl of food processor, combine the yeast, water and honey and whisk by hand until dissolved.  Let stand for 5 minutes to proof, then add the olive oil, flour and salt.  Using dough blade, pulse several times to mix.  Turn on food processor and allow processor to run until all the flour has been incorporated into one piece, then allow to run for one minute longer.

Note: If not using food processor, combine 3/4 cup flour and yeast mixture in bowl, and mix with electric mixer for three minutes.  Add remaining flour, approximately 1/4 cup at a time, and mix with wooden spoon.  When mixture becomes too stiff to mix, empty onto floured countertop, and knead in remaining flour.  Knead for ten minutes.

Divide dough into four equal sized balls.  Wrap and freeze 2 for later use.  Place the remaining 2 in a warm place, and allow to rise for two hours.

Meanwhile, prepare topping.  In a saute pan over medium heat, warm 1 tbsp of the olive oil.  Add the bell pepper slices, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cook until soft and lightly carmelized, 5 to 7 minutes.  Transfer the peppers to a bowl.

For the tomato sauce, combine the tomatoes and tomato paste in a bowl, stirring gently until the paste is dissolved into the juices.  Add the dried basil and oregano, along with the balsamic vinegar, and stir gently.  Set aside.

Return the pan to medium heat, add the sausage and cook, breaking the meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the sausage to a separate bowl.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 450 degrees F.

Divide the remaining olive oil among 2 of the mini deep-dish pans, thoroughly greasing each pan.  Place a dough ball in each pan, and using your fingers, press the dough in an even layer across the bottom and up the sides of the pans.

Place 1 provolone slice on each dough round.  Top with the mozzarella, bell peppers and sausage, dividing evenly.  Using the back of a spoon, spread the tomato sauce on top of each pizza.  Finally, sprinkle the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano over each pizza.

Bake the pizzas until the crusts are golden, about 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove the pizzas from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.  Makes 2 mini deep-dish pizzas.