A hundred years ago (was it really only 13??) I spent a summer in Italy doing study abroad. For 2 weeks I actually got to live with an Italian family… so I really got to experience authentic Italian food! Wow, was it delicious. My mouth still waters thinking about some of the amazing fresh pasta, sauce, pizza and antipasto I got to try there. Oh and let’s not forget the nutella gelato. Mmmmm! During that summer I fell in love with the margherita pizza. (Which was partly due to the fact that it was routinely the cheapest thing on any menu and I was a poor starving college student that had sold her car to even make it to Europe!) But once I had tried it, I was hooked. I’m sorry to say that there is just no replicating it… however, this pizza was so tasty I thought it was a worthy enough wannabe to share the name. After attempting a NY style thin crust in Utah with my family (uh, sorry guys) I found a much better recipe for dough that ended up deliciously chewy and perfect. I still love our basic pizza dough but I was ready for a change and wanted to try something new. The 3 main toppings for margherita pizza are tomatoes, fresh basil and a little mozzarella. No heavy red sauce. It makes a simple but fantastic pizza. Trust me.
3 medium vine-ripened tomatoes (of course from your own garden is best!), chopped in large chunks
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tb olive oil
1/3 cup+ loosely packed fresh basil leaves, julienne cut
mozzarella cheese, shredded (fresh mozzarella is wonderful)
parmesan cheese, shredded
Combine all ingredients except cheese and toss lightly. Roll out pizza dough to 12 inch circle and place on hot pizza stone. Sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella on dough. Spoon on tomato mixture and spread evenly over cheese. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup parmesan on top. Bake in preheated oven at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is starting to brown and crust is a deep golden. Let cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle additional 1-2 tablespoons of fresh basil over pizza before serving.
1 1/2 cups very warm water
1 Tb sugar
1 scant Tb yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tb olive oil
4 cups flour
In a large mixing bowl dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water – let sit for 10 minutes. Foam should form on top. Whisk in salt, olive oil and 1 cup flour. Whisk in 2nd cup of flour. At this point put on dough hook and turn mixer in low as you add the last 2 cups of flour. If your dough is too sticky, add flour a little bit at a time until dough forms a ball. Knead for 5 minutes. (Or 10 minutes by hand) Place dough in oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for an hour in a warm place until double in size. Punch down dough and divide into 2 parts. Each half will make a 12 inch pizza. (If you only want to make one pizza now, then put other dough ball in an oiled freezer bag and pop in the freezer for another day!) Take the dough ball that you want to use immediately and allow it to rest for 15 minutes then roll out.
*to freeze the pizza dough… at the point where you divide the dough into two parts, you can put one half in an oiled plastic bag and put directly in the freezer. When you want to use it, let it thaw in the frig or at room temperature. Once thawed, there is no need to allow it rest/rise again – just roll out and use immediately.