The pizza Margherita is something of a minimalist pizza pie. That doesn’t mean you can’t tweak it by adding anything that floats your boat. Word has it that in June of 1889 Neapolitan pizzamaker Raffaele Esposito created it to honor the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. He garnished it with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil to represent Italy’s national colors as they are on the Italian flag.
Despite the simplicity of the recipe, there are a number of variations. For example, some recipes call for the basil to be added after the pie is done. I prefer to put it under the cheese before baking so the herbs flavor cooks into the cheese and sauce.
Optional Pizza Making Equipment
If you really get into making your own pizzas, I recommend:
- A pizza stone. This is essential if you want top-notch pizza. A good pizza stone does wonders for your crust development because, unlike a baking sheet, it’s completely heated before the pizza is placed upon it. and that, my friend, is how you achieve a crisp and chewy crust that you can’t get out of a box. As you can see above, mine has some serious mileage on it.
- A pizza peal. This is one of your best friends when using a stone. The one in the image below is typical. You build the pie on it, you transport the pie on it, and you can cut the pie on it. No muss, no fuss.
Pizza Crust Considerations
You basically have two choices. If you have the time and inclination, make your own. Check out this pizza crust recipe. If you are pressed for time, simply buy a crust in the grocery store. Don’t go for the really cheap ones.
The good thing about making your own crust is that you can add in just about anything—herbs, flax seeds, you name it.
Pizza Topping Ingredients
- 7 roma tomatoes. You can use the big slicers but the romas are much more economical. Cut up the tomatoes and chop them up in the blender.
- Mozzarella cheese. How much you use is up to you. Slice it about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and place it randomly (see the video above to see what I like).
- 1/2 cup chopped basil.
That’s pretty much it for the basic ingredient list. Have fun with it and throw on anything that suits your fancy.
This is very easy. Spread the tomatoes out evenly leaving about 1/2 inch around the edge “naked.” Add the basil. Add the cheese randomly. Watch the video. Have patience; it takes a while to load.
Bake that Baby
Preheat your oven (with the pizza stone on an oven rack) to 500 degrees. Bake it until the dough is crisp and browned and the cheese is golden and bubbling in spots. This will usually be from 13 to 16 minutes; just keep an eye on it. Slide your pie off the peal onto the stone.
Let it rest about 5 minutes and then slice and enjoy!
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