Margherita pizza has become a popular recipe served throughout Italy over the years. That popularity has carried beyond just Italy, as you can pretty much find an option for a Margherita pizza on the menu in almost any Italian restaurant nowadays. Traditionally, this pizza is prepared using fresh dough and ingredients, but it can easily be prepared with a store bought or premade crust as well (Simply layer your sauce and ingredients on top and bake). This particular Italian recipe utilizes fresh basil, mozzarella, and tomatoes as the core ingredients. There’s a simple explanation for this, as these ingredients purposefully reflect the national colors of Italy. Originally, this pizza was created in honor of Queen Margherita of Savoy, by a famous Italian pizzamaker named Raffaele Esposito. So enjoy a pizza that’s quite literally fit for a queen!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves roasted garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup Pasta Jay’s Tomato Basil or Classic Marinara Pasta Sauce
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced into 1/2 inch thick pieces
- 6-12 cherry tomatoes, sliced (or any tomato you like)
- handful of fresh basil
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste
This recipe yields two 10-inch pizza crusts*
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 7 ounces warm water
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons semolina or all-purpose flour, for the pizza peel (divided)
- Note: The dough can be chilled in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours or frozen for 3 months
Step 1: Prepare Pizza Dough. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add the warm water and olive oil, and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until the dough just begins to come together.
Step 2: Scrape the dough onto a well-floured counter top and knead the dough for three minutes. It should quickly come together and begin to get sticky. Dust the dough with flour as needed – it should be slightly tacky, but should not be sticking to your counter top. After three minutes, the dough should be smooth, slightly elastic, and tacky. Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with olive oil, and place the dough into the bowl.
Step 3: Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) and allow the dough to rise in a warm, dry area of your kitchen for 2 hours or until the dough has approximately doubled in size.
Step 4: Preheat Oven and Pizza Stone. Place the pizza stone on the center (or top third) rack of your oven, and preheat the oven and pizza stone to 550 degrees Fahrenheit (for at least 30-45 minutes). If your oven does not go up to 550 degrees, heat it to the absolute maximum temperature that it can go. If you don’t have a pizza stone, just use a pizza pan or an ordinary baking sheet.
Step 5: Separate the dough into two equal-sized portions. It will deflate slightly, but that is OK. Place the dough on a large plate or floured counter top, cover gently with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 6: Assemble the Pizza. Sprinkle the pizza peel (alternatively, you can use the back of a baking sheet – but it will be harder!) with a tablespoon of semolina. Gently stretch one ball of pizza dough into roughly a 10-inch circle (don’t worry if its not perfectly uniform). If the dough springs back or is too elastic, allow it to rest for an additional five minutes. The edges of the dough can be slightly thicker, but make sure the center of the dough is thin. Gently transfer the dough onto the semolina-dusted pizza peel or baking sheet.
Step 7: Drizzle or brush the dough lightly with olive oil (teaspoon or so). Using a large spoon, add roughly 1/4 cup of Pasta Jay’s pasta sauce onto the pizza dough, leaving a 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch border on all sides. Use the back of the spoon to spread it evenly and thinly. Then add a layer of fresh mozzarella, basil, and fresh tomatoes.
Step 8: Gently slide the pizza from the peel onto the heated baking stone or tray. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling and caramelized. Remove the pizza carefully from the oven with the pizza peel, transfer to a wooden cutting board or foil. Slice and serve immediately and/or prepare the second pizza.
Optional: Drizzle the top with olive oil, some grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and chiffonade of fresh basil.