Neapolitan Margherita Pizza & Pizza Tips

I figure you need some non-Thanksgiving-y foods this week. Did ya miss me? I took Black Friday off from blogging…not for shopping, but Thanksgiving week is suuuuper busy at work and my poor puppy Windsor had a lot of seizures on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

I wanted to talk pizza today. I make it all the time but figured I was due to share some tips. I fell further in love with pizza on a stop in Italy to Naples on my honeymoon. I really didn’t love Naples but the pizza made it all worth it.

honeymoon_nap_pizza_390_590

Seriously. Look at that! Doesn’t get much better. I don’t pretend that this can be exactly replicated but it is such a good one to make at home. Try this tomato “sauce” and you’ll love it. I never make pizza without it.

Ingredients:

ball of refrigerated pizza dough
1 1/2 cups Pastene kitchen ready crushed tomatoes
8 oz fresh mozzarella
8 basil leaves

Directions:

Preheat oven (and pizza stone if using one) to 400 degrees.
Gently start working the pizza dough in your hands, flattening it out. Slowly, with patience, it will grow in size as your hands warm it. Carefully work the edges to make it bigger and to avoid getting holes or too-thin crust in the middle.
Place the flattened dough onto the pizza stone, or hot pizza pan. Reshape if needed. The bottom will cook a bit keeping it from shrinking right in front of you.
The Three Bite Rule - Margherita Pizza
Poke a few holes with a fork into the crust. It stops it from bubbling up too much.
Bake for 10-15 minutes. It should be slightly cooked and not sticky to the touch.
Top with tomato sauce spreading it evenly and far enough to the edges to leave some room for the crust to hold it in. Then add slices of mozzarella.
marg_pizza_topped2_590_390
Brush the crust with some olive oil for a shiny brown crisp look (optional).
Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Set a timer and look at the pizza to decide when it is cooked enough for your liking. The pre-cook step helps it be cooked through by the end.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with basil.
The Three Bite Rule - Margherita Pizza
Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

I love margherita pizza. The mozzarella and basil make it just so amazing. I was so happy to make this simple pizza and pair it with some pinot noir. Love.
The Three Bite Rule - Margherita Pizza
I’ve found that the fresh mozzarella sold in the diary case, by the cream cheese & ricotta, works so much better than the wetter mozzarella balls sold in the produce or cheese cases. These dairy section blocks of mozzarella are drier, easier to slice, and hold up better to the oven than the softer mozzarella from the produce or cheese area that I would prefer to use for caprese salads. If that’s confusing just grab both and look at them in the store. This will all make a lot more sense in-person.

Top 5 Pizza Tips:

1) If you make pizza regularly, get a pizza stone. The first time the crust might stick but it has been fool-proof ever since.
2) Pre-cook the crust without any toppings to get it started with a 10-ish minute head start. This keeps it doughy and slightly crisp without being raw. This also helps avoid the toppings getting overcooked.
3) Try using fewer ingredients, but better quality ingredients. (insert: Pastene Kitchen Ready tomatoes)
4) Get the oven really hot, like 400-degrees hot.
5) Don’t try to assemble then move the pizza. Assemble & top it on the pizza stone/pizza pan you are baking on. Pizza from the floor does not taste as good.

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