In 1889, Chef Raffaele Esposito--at the request of Italy’s Queen Margherita--created Pizza Margherita Pizza in her honor--using tomatoes, Mozzarella cheese and fresh basil to represent the red, white and green of Italy’s flag.
This weekend, a fine alternative to a Pinot Grigio and wood-grilled Pizza Margherita on an Amalfi Coast terrace—would be to fire-up the Italian music while preparing the following:
Make 2 (12-inch) pizzas, serving 4 to 6
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped or julienned
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 pound mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Basic pizza dough, rolled out for 2 (12-inch) pizzas, recipe follows
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. If you have one, place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine tomatoes, olive oil, and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and process until smooth. Divide sauce between the 2 pizzas and smooth to spread evenly, leaving a 1/2-inch border along the edges of the dough. Sprinkle basil leaves on top of sauce and then top with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Finally, divide mozzarella slices between 2 pizzas, and bake for about 8 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and the edges are golden brown.
Basic Pizza Dough:
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
2 1/2 to 3 cups flour plus more if necessary
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a large bowl, combine yeast with water, olive oil, salt and stir well to proof. After 5 minutes, add half of the flour and mix well to thoroughly incorporate. Add all remaining flour except 1/2 cup and mix well with your hands. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead dough for at least 5 and up to 7 minutes, adding enough additional flour as necessary to form a smooth and elastic dough. Dough should not be sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled 2 or 3 quart bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, usually at least 1 hour.
Divide dough into 2 portions (for 2 (12-inch) pizzas) and form into balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface, shape as desired and roll out to a thickness of 1/4-inch.