It is said that the famous Margherita pizza from Naples, considered the “true” pizza by many, came about when Queen Margherita, while traveling through Italy, fell in love with the garnished flatbreads being sold to the poor. She summoned a baker named Raphelle to bake her a selection of pizzas to try. One version, consisting of tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil to honor the colors of the Italian flag, became her favorite, and was named to honor her appreciation for pizza. Pizza Margherita is still a favorite pizza choice in Italy today.
While living in Italy, I learned to love the thin-crusted pizza cooked in wood burning ovens that does not resemble the pizza sold in chain restaurants here in the US in any way. While the Italian pizza consists of a few, fresh ingredients on a tasty, thin crust, the American version consumed here, is often packed with multiple ingredients, laden with a layer of heavy cheese, and prepared with a much thicker crust.
Deborah Mele 2011
- 4 Individual Pizza Dough Balls – At Room Temperature
- 1 Large Can Plum Tomatoes (I Prefer Pomi Brand Crushed Tomatoes)
- 3 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Chopped Basil
- 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Dash Red Pepper Flakes
- 3 Cups Diced Mozzarella Cheese
- 4 Large Fresh Basil Leaves
- To prepare the sauce, heat half the oil in a saucepan and cook the garlic until sizzling.
- Add the tomatoes, and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Add the chopped basil and mix well.
- Cook on low to medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, than set aside to cool.
- Heat the oven to it’s highest setting (Usually 500 degrees F.)
- To prepare the dough, press each dough ball into a flat disk on a lightly floured counter or bread board.
- Using your fingers and knuckles carefully, press the dough out into a 12 inch circle.
- Place the dough onto a baking peel lightly coated with cornmeal.
- Place a large scoop of sauce onto each pizza and spread evenly across the pizza leaving a 1 inch edge.
- Do not use too much sauce as you should be able to see the dough through the sauce.
- Place some mozzarella cheese on each pizza and place one basil leaf in the center.
- Bake each pizza for about 10 minutes or until the pizza is brown and bubbly turning the pizza halfway if needed for it to bake evenly.