A wonderful simple recipe using delicious local tomatoes and fresh basil!
Sometimes the greatest pleasures in life are also the simplest. Take Italian cuisine for example, most of the dishes use only a few basic ingredients. The freshness and quality of the ingredients take centre stage and come together to make something so delicious you can hardly believe how simple the recipe actually is.
One such Italian recipe, and one of my favourite simple pleasures is margarita pizza. Not only is this recipe absolutely delicious but it also gives Matthew and I an opportunity to cook together in the kitchen. I, with my baking tendencies, am in charge of the pizza dough, while Matthew prepares the toppings and makes the most delicious pizza sauce from scratch (it is so good you'll want to eat it with a spoon straight out of the pan!)
- 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons warm water
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 to 1-1/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
In medium sized mixing bowl, mix yeast, 2 tablespoons of warm water, and sugar. Set aside for 10 minutes. Foam should form on the surface if your yeast is active (if no foam forms, restart using a new package of yeast). To this foamy mixture, add the remaining 1/2 cup of warm water, flour and salt. Stir together until fairly blended, then remove from bowl, place on floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Provide a thin coating of extra virgin olive oil to the outside of your ball of dough, and the inside of a medium sized bowl. Place your dough inside the bowl, and cover the top of the bowl with a moist tea towel and set aside for 1.5 hours. Your dough should approximately double in size during this time. 15 minutes prior to baking, remove dough from bowl, punch the air out of the dough, knead for 2 minutes, roll back into ball, and place back in bowl and cover with the tea towel. Prior to fitting the dough to your pizza pan, apply a liberal coating of extra virgin olive oil to your pan. To roll out dough, it’s best to use your hands to stretch the dough to fit your pizza pan (rather than using a rolling pin – which can create a flat dense crust). Once the pizza dough is stretched to fit the pan, let the dough rest a few minutes before adding your toppings.
- 2 medium tomatoes skinned, chopped
- 1 white shallot, chopped
- Good pinch of salt,
- Good pinch of pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1.5 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Small bunch of fresh basil finely, chopped
To skin your tomatoes, submerge tomatoes in boiled water for 30 seconds. Remove from boiling water, and place in bowl of cold water. The skin will now peel away easily.
In a large sauce pan, sauté onions in the extra virgin olive oil on medium heat until translucent. Add salt, pepper, tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and basil. Saute for another 3 minutes. Let cool slightly. If you prefer a smooth pizza sauce, place in blender, and blend until desired consistency.
Assembly of your delicious Margarita Pizza!
Preheat over to 500 degrees. Place oven rack to lowest rung in oven.
- Fresh Mozzarella, cut in ¼ inch thick rounds
- A small handful of fresh basil leaves, washed and thoroughly dried
- A tablespoon of freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
Spread sauce as liberally or as thinly as you like over the pizza crust. Add mozzarella, spacing it evenly around the pizza. Add whole fresh basil leaves, once again, distributing evenly over the pizza.
Bake for 10-12 minutes at 500 degrees.
Once you remove from oven, sprinkle with fresh Parmesan, and drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil.