Pizza Margherita is one of the World’s magical foods. It’s ingredients and preparation are relatively simple, yet when prepared correctly the resulting pizza is amazingly delicious and addictive!
Most pizza recipes gloss over or omit altogether four of the most important ingredients for making great pizza at home, they are:
Cornmeal: Cornmeal’s tiny grains act like little ball bearings between flat surfaces. Spread cornmeal on the surface of what you build your pizza on and you’ll be able to slide your masterpiece right off it and into your oven. Speaking of what you place your dough on, go get yourself a…
Pizza peel: Buy one, construct your pizza on it, use it to put your pizza in the oven, use it to take your pizza out of the oven. Seems like a small thing right? Try it! By the way, when you’re using your peel to slide your pizza into your oven make sure your oven contains a…
Pizza Stone: Nothing is going to make your home pizza match or exceed the quality of the store bought stuff more than a pizza stone. Get a thick one and get a big one. Park it on the lowest rack of your oven. It makes all the difference in the world and in no time you’ll be pulling pizzas out of your oven that will make the thought of a store-bought pie a less-than-ideal option. The pizza stone is not going to work optimally though unless you…
Preheat your oven: Flat out, no joke, crank her up to 500°F and do that a full 45 minutes before you plan to sprinkle that peel with cornmeal, stretch that dough and then slide that pie onto that stone.
The recipe below calls for grape tomatoes, they are perfect for Pizza Margherita. You can substitute any tomatoes you like but should stay with meatier tomatoes that aren’t too juicy. If the only tomatoes you can get are very juicy, dice them and allow then to drain well before crushing them for your sauce because soggy pizza is bad pizza! Also, you’ll notice the recipe offers some leeway regarding the amount of mozzarella, basil and oregano you add to your pizza. Some people like it cheesier, some folks love oregano, some people like a lot of basil. This is your gourmet pizza, do it your way.
Enough pizza dough for 2 -16″ to 18″ pizzas
1-1/2 cups grape tomatoes (1 cup crushed, 1/2 whole)
3 Tbs Olive oil
3-5 pinches of oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of fresh basil (julienned/chopped)
1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese (grated)
1/2 to 1 lb. of fresh mozzarella de buffalo* (sliced into 1/8″ to 1/4″ slices)
2 pitted kalamata olives
Preheat oven to 500°F for 45 minutes to one hour before you plan on cooking the pizza.
To the crushed grape tomatoes add olive oil, a pinch of oregano and salt and pepper to taste, mix well to make a slightly chunky sauce. Set aside and let flavors blend while you prepare other ingredients.
Stretch one of the dough balls to a 16″ to 18″ disc and place it on your cornmealed peel. I’m not going to go into dough stretching here because it is a learned thing and there are a variety of methods each with its proponents, each for good reason. Do a little research and practice a bit. Don’t plan on a perfectly round pizza all the time!
Divide the tomato sauce and spread half of it over the stretched dough.
Sprinkle a pinch of the oregano over the pizza.
Sprinkle some of the basil evenly over the pizza (reserve most of the basil for when the pizzas comes out of the oven).
Take half the reserved whole grape tomatoes and squish them in your hand and distribute them over the pizza.
Sprinkle half the parmigiano-reggiano over the the pizza.
Evenly distribute 1/2 the sliced mozzarella over the pizza.
Place one of the kalamata olives in the center of the pizza.
Place the pizza in the oven until the bottom is slightly browned and the cheese is bubbly (8 to 10 minutes). Remove, add additional basil and oregano to taste, drizzle with some olive oil, allow to cool for about 5 minutes, slice and and serve.
*This is the mozzarella that is formed in balls that are in liquid. It doesn’t have to be buffalo milk mozzarella but that is authentic. You cannot make authentic Pizza Margherita with deli-style or shredded packaged “mozzarella”. Save that stuff for regular pizza.
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