This classic pizza is ridiculously delicious and I crave it at least once a week. I can tell you however, that the simplicity of a margherita pizza always makes me fidget. Why? Because I have a hard time practicing restraint when it comes to most food related things…I over-stuff, over-pile and over-top my food. Sandwiches are piled too high to bite gracefully, tacos are jam packed and anything wrapped in a tortilla usually explodes in my hands. What can I say? I never learn and I love food! So making a pizza with only three ingredients is unheard of in my world. I typically top my pizzas with at least 6 things, if not more. But, after holding back and making this pizza, I learned a great lesson in restraint…sometimes less IS more.
- 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup warm water (or 1 cup leftover whey from making my homemade ricotta recipe…I highly recommend this!)
- 2 and 3/4 cup flour
- Combine the yeast, sugar, salt and olive oil in your mixing machine or mixing bowl.
- Add the 1 cup of warm water and stir gently. Let sit for 15 minutes while the yeast activates (it will look foamy).
- Slowly add the flour until the dough ball comes together. You may need to add a bit more flour or a bit more water to make it come together.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and kneed until smooth.
- Put dough ball in an oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towel to let rise for an hour or until it has doubled in size.
- At this point, you can divide it in half and make 2 large pizzas or divide it in quarters and make 4 medium pizzas. You can also let it rise again after dividing it in half or quarters.
- Roll out your doughball on a floured surface (or use cornmeal for extra crunch).
Time to make the pizza…
– You will want to bake the pizza in the hottest oven possible. Preheat your oven to that temp…My oven cranks up to 550°.
– Slather on your tomato sauce. I like to use San Marzano tomatoes, pureed with a pinch of salt. Sometimes I will throw a bunch of cherry tomatoes in a pan and cook slowly until they burst. Both are great options for your sauce.
– Top with slices of fresh mozzarella.
– Next, the basil. I will admit, I didn’t just use fresh basil on this pizza. I had made some pesto earlier in the day, and I put some on along with the tomato sauce. So if you have pesto, add some to your pizza. If not, be sure to have some fresh basil ready to tear on AFTER the pizza cooks.
– Bake the pizza in the preheated SIZZLING HOT oven. Depending on your oven temperature, the pizza will take ten minutes or less to cook.
– Remove the finished pizza and tear on your fresh basil. I also like to finish with a sprinkle of parmesan or pecorino cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.