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Melissa Clark’s Go-To Pizza Recipe for Busy Nights

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A Good Appetite

This olive oil-enriched recipe is the fastest version you can make from scratch — and it’s one of the best.

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For years, as soon as the craving for homemade pizza struck me, it was very easy to gratify … four days later.

My family’s favorite recipe for slow-rising dough isn’t difficult, but it does need attention on consecutive evenings and a couple of overnight stints in the fridge. Those logistics are often more than our busy household can manage, and while perfectly leopard-spotted, puffy-edged pies are well worth the wait, we’re not always that patient for pizza.

Recipe: Sheet Pan Pizza al Taglio

So here is the gotta-have-it-now recipe for the hungry and impatient. Based on an easy, no-knead focaccia dough, it’s simple and speedy. It requires no resting time in the fridge, and barely any shaping. The whole thing can be made in under three hours, with pantry staples you probably already have, no Italian “00” flour needed.

What this crust loses in long-risen tang and chew, it more than makes up for with a delightful bouncy-soft texture, crisp edges and a savory, olive oil-imbued character. It’s far puffier and more flavorful than any premade pizza dough you can buy, and making it from scratch is faster than defrosting that ball of dough you may have stashed in the back of your freezer. It’s become our go-to for spontaneous weeknight pizza, regardless of how harried we are.

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The inspiration for it comes from Roman pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice), a rectangular pie usually sliced to order and sold by weight. Unlike the round, blistered pizzas of Naples, pizza al taglio tends to have a lighter crust that’s crunchy at the edges and airy in the center.

What I love most about pizza al taglio are the toppings, which change seasonally and can be added either before or after the pizza is baked, opening the door to possibility. At home, this means using whatever you have on hand, whether that’s a classic tomato-mozzarella pairing; cooked vegetables (asparagus, artichokes, roasted peppers); sliced prosciutto or mortadella; salad greens; fresh cheeses (goat cheese or ricotta); tinned fish (anchovies, sardines, tuna); or some improvised combination thereof. And if there’s nothing in the cupboard, do as the Romans do: Make pizza bianca, topping the dough with olive oil and a sprinkle of flaky salt.

Still, this is not a traditional pizza crust. Streamlined and endlessly adaptable for home cooking, it’s made for the spontaneous, the seasonal and the last-minute — perfect, in fact, for tonight.

Melissa Clark has been writing her column, A Good Appetite, for The Times’s Food section since 2007. She creates recipes for New York Times Cooking, makes videos and reports on food trends. She is the author of 45 cookbooks, and counting. More about Melissa Clark

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