A Pizza Party for Purim

A Pizza Party for Purim

The festival of Purim is a fun-filled holiday, where the focus is on Queen Esther, who helped defeat the king’s wicked prime minister, Haman, in ancient Persia. It is a time when the children dress up in costumes, representing the characters in the story, and take part in masquerades, singing, dancing, playing games and more. The grown-ups have their rewards, too, because it is the only holiday where a generous intake of wine is encouraged.

This year, the holiday begins on the night of March 15, and it’s all about having a fun time with family and friends. One of our favorite get-togethers, in general, is to enjoy an informal pizza party, and Purim offers the perfect opportunity for one. Pizza dough is almost the same as that used in making hamantaschen, the filled pastry that represents Haman’s hat or pockets, depending on which tale your bubbe told you. And pizza slices are cut into triangles, the same shape as hamantaschen.

For a do-it-yourself pizza party, prepare all the fillings in advance and simply set them out in bowls for everyone to choose their own selections. Make the dough a half hour before everyone arrives, and it will be ready to roll out. Individual pies are a perfect size, and everyone can make their own creation. The dough and toppings can also be prepared in advance, or the day before, and stored in the fridge. Buon appetito!


  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (110-115F)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups flour

Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in 1/2 cup water; set aside until foamy.

In a large mixing bowl, combine remaining 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup olive oil and yeast mixture. Stir in salt and flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough begins to come together into a rough ball.

Turn onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, oil its top, cover, and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.

Makes enough for about 4 individual pizzas.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 can (28 ounces)
  • whole peeled tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a heavy skillet, heat olive oil. Add garlic, onions, red pepper, carrots and celery; sauté until onions are transparent. Add tomatoes with their liquid, wine, oregano, basil, parsley and sugar. Bring to a boil and simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

Makes about 6 cups.


Part of the fun of making a pizza is adding your own toppings. Consider anything from anchovies to sliced mushrooms, sliced onions, sliced zucchini, oven-dried tomatoes or roasted peppers, cut into strips.

  • Classic Marinara Tomato Sauce (recipe above)
  • Basic Pizza Dough (recipe above)
  • Cornmeal
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Prepare Classic Marinara Tomato Sauce; set aside.
  • Prepare Basic Pizza Dough.

Punch down the dough and break off golf ball-size pieces to make 8- to 10-inch individual pizzas. Knead each piece of dough on a floured board for 1 minute, working in additional flour to make it smooth and no longer sticky. Roll it out into a thin circle. Dust a round pizza baking pan with cornmeal and place the rolled-out dough on top.

Spoon a thin coating of the Classic Marinara Tomato Sauce onto the pizza, spreading it with the back of a spoon to within 1 inch of the edge. Add any other toppings you desire. Sprinkle generously with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and bake on the lowest rack of the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is crisp and brown and the cheese is hot and bubbling. Serve immediately.

Makes about 4 pizzas.



This dish, often served on the Italian Riviera, consists of a thinly rolled pizza dough topped with a savory mixture of slow-cooked onions and garlic, garnished with pungent anchovies and drizzled with olive oil. (From “Italy Cooks,” by Judy Zeidler) 

  • Basic Pizza Dough (recipe above)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 pounds (3 large) onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Flour
  • Cornmeal
  • 1 can (2 ounces) anchovy fillets, drained

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Prepare Basic Pizza Dough. Brush with olive oil, then cover with a clean kitchen towel until ready to use.

In a large skillet, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil. Add onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Do not allow onions to brown. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

Punch down dough and divide into 4 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, knead on a floured board for 2 or 3 minutes, working in a small amount of flour, a little at a time, until dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Roll out into a thin circle, about 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Repeat with remaining dough pieces.

Brush a round pizza baking pan with olive oil, dust with cornmeal, and arrange one or two dough rounds on the baking pan (bake as many as will fit on the pan; you may have to bake them in batches). Place one-fourth of the onion mixture on each pizza round. Arrange one-fourth of the anchovies in a circular pattern on each. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden.

Makes 4 pizzas.


  • 1 cup Classic Marinara Tomato Sauce, warmed (recipe above)
  • Basic Pizza Dough (recipe above)
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 bunch (5 cups) fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped (remove and discard thick stems)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Prepare Classic Marinara Tomato Sauce; set aside.

Prepare Basic Pizza Dough. On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, roll out and cut or shape into an 8-inch square. Repeat with remaining portions.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, spinach, and salt and pepper.

Spoon one-fourth of the filling on one corner of each dough square; fold opposite corner over the filling. Pinch edges to seal. Brush tops of calzones with olive oil.

Transfer calzones to a foil- or Silpat-lined baking sheet and bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve with Classic Marinara Tomato Sauce.

Makes 4 calzones.


This comfort food from Liguria, the region flanking Genoa along Italy’s northwest coast, is a deceptively simple street food. Farinata is somewhat like a large, thin chickpea crepe or pancake, and traditionally baked in brick wood-burning ovens in pizza pans — crisp and golden on the top, soft and moist on the inside. My method calls for using a skillet on the stovetop, then moving the pizza to the broiler.

  • 2/3 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons capers (optional)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the broiler.

Sift the chickpea flour with the salt into a medium bowl. Slowly add 1/4 cup water, whisking constantly to form a paste. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk in remaining 1/2 cup remaining water and, if time permits, let the batter stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, then stir in the rosemary.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick ovenproof skillet. Stir batter once, pour about 3/4 cup of batter into skillet. Cook over moderately high heat until the bottom is golden and crisp and the top is almost set, 2 to 3 minutes. Burst any large air bubbles with the tip of a knife.

Sprinkle half of the tomato, onion, capers, Parmesan cheese and pepper over the top, and drizzle the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil on top. Place the skillet under the broiler and cook until the pancake is golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Slide onto a wooden board; using a pizza cutter, cut into wedges, and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining batter.

Makes 2 farinatas.

Main photo: Three-Cheese Calzone / Photos by Dan Kacvinski. Food preparation and styling by Judy Zeidler

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