1 - If you have access to a mixer, place the dough hook on it and add the water, salt, sugar, olive oil, and yeast. Allow the mixture to activate for five minutes before adding any of the flour. Turn the mixer on low speed, and slowly add 1 cup of sifted flour at a time, allowing it to completely mix before adding the remaining flour. You may need to turn off the mixer and pull the dough off the hook to reposition it in the bowl if the dough starts to look too dry. When you reach the right consistency the dough should be firm and shiny without being sticky. You may need to add more water or flour until it feels right. All this can be done by hand as well, but that requires a little more work. Roll the dough into a ball and coat it with additional olive oil. Place the dough in a used (but clean) plastic shopping bag, tied loosely so as to not allow too much air inside. This dough is best when you allow it to rise overnight inside your refrigerator, however you can let it rise on your counter for three hours if you are in a rush.
2 - The sauce starts with something the Italians like to call a "soffritto." I use it in every tomato sauce that I make. Place the garlic, carrot, onion, and celery inside a food processor and pulse it a few seconds at a time until it turns into a fine, smooth paste. Add butter to your sauce pan and allow it to gently melt down before adding the soffritto. You may need to add more butter depending on the size of the vegetables you used. Make sure there is enough butter bubbling in the pan to keep the mixture very wet, and allow it to cook for 5 - 10 minutes until the ingredients have melted together, lightly browned, and smell great. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper (more or less, to taste) to the sauce. Cover the pot and allow it to come to a slow saute before adding the diced basil. Cook the sauce until reduced to a thicker consistency, since you don't want a runny pizza. Once fully cooked, remove the sauce from heat and allow it to cool.
3 - Roasted red peppers are simple to make at home, right on your range. Stores always get away with charging outrageous prices for them, and once you see how easy they are to make you won't buy them again. Coat the peppers in olive oil, and place them directly on the top of your range, over a medium flame. Be sure to have tongs available, otherwise you won't be able to turn them as they cook. Don't worry about the skin turning black, you can really scorch the peppers while they roast and it only makes it easier in the end to remove the skins. Once the peppers are blackened all around, remove them from the heat and place them under cold running water. Be careful when pulling off the stem as there is hot liquid inside and you don't want to burn your hands. Allow the peppers to fill up with cold water until the heat is gone. Removing the skins is easy, just scrape them off with your hands, or use the back of a spoon. Once all the skins are removed, slice the peppers into strips the width of a pencil.
4 - When sauteing the spinach, start by completely melting the butter in your frying pan. Add the sliced onion, and allow it to cook until almost translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 - 3 minutes until the garlic is on the cusp of starting to brown. Next, add the baby spinach and cover the pan for a minute while it wilts down. Using tongs, combine all the butter, onion and garlic with the spinach and turn off heat once the spinach is wilted and combined. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
5 - A balsamic reduction is easy to make. Simply combine the vinegar with the honey in a small sauce pan and bring it to a boil, stirring consistently. Continue boiling until the mixture has reduced in half, to the consistency of molasses (about seven minutes). When it's hot it will drip off the spoon much easier, so be sure not to over-boil it. If you have a vent above your range, this would be a good time to turn it on!
6 - Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and position your oven rack on the bottom. Prepare a 11 X 17 sheet pan (or larger) by cutting a piece of parchment paper to place underneath the dough (to help prevent sticking). Use a liberal amount of olive oil on the pan and parchment paper. If your you have allowed the dough to rise overnight in the refrigerator, then it will need a few hours to warm up before you can stretch it to the pan. Once the dough is ready, knead it down to shape the pan and stretch it to fit. Be sure that the dough is even on all corners. You should flip it after pressing so that both sides of the dough are coated with the olive oil. If the dough is resisting being stretched, simply let it rest for 15 minutes on the pan and try again.
7 - Before adding all the ingredients, we like to season the dough with fresh cracked sea salt, either white or black pepper, and 1 cup of your parmesan, sprinkled evenly over the surface. Then. using a rubber spatula, spread the sauce evenly over the dough and cheese so that it covers the surface, leaving edges for the crust. Add the final cup of parmesan on top of the tomato sauce, this time being sure to add some to the crust. Distribute the spinach mixture evenly on top of the cheese, followed by the roasted red peppers. I like to do this all by hand because it makes less of a mess and is easier to control. Next, sprinkle the 2 cups of mozzarella evenly on the top of the pizza. Finally, drizzle the balsamic reduction over the top of the entire pizza in whichever fashion you choose. Reserve a little to finish the pizza after it is done cooking.
8 - Bake the pizza in the preheated oven for 35 - 40 minutes (or longer, depending on how well-done you want it). The crust should be a deep golden brown. If the cheese starts to darken before the crust, place a piece of tin foil on top. Remove the pizza from the oven and allow 15 minutes to cool before cutting. We like to cut the pizza in squares so that we get 8 pieces out of it. Most people are full from 1 slice, but people like me always end up eating more than one, especially if I am not watching my carbs. If you'd like to add more balsamic reduction, do so before serving to give an extra tang to the pizza. Enjoy!