Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita is a simple Pizza made of mozarella cheese,basil and tomatoes-white,green and red colours to represent the Italian flag.This is a classic pizza that was first prepared in Naples in honour of the Queen Margherita who was visiting Naples at that time and had been named after her.It was also the first time that mozarella cheese was used in making pizza.

I had earlier bookmarked Mario Batali's recipe for this but had completely forgetten about it.While seeing Soma's pizza margherita recipe ,I was reminded of this and decided to plunge in pizza making.I halved Batali's recipe for the pizza dough and made a delicious pizza margherita.

Ingredients:
Pizza dough:
All Purpose Flour: 1.5 cups + more as needed

Active Dry Yeast: 3/4 tsp

Warm Water: 1/2 cup
Sugar/honey: 1 tsp
Salt: 3/4 tsp
Extra Virgin olive Oil: 1.5 tbsp

Marinara Sauce:
EVOO: 1 tbsp
Red Onion: 1 small chopped
Garlic: 2 cloves
Tomato Puree: 1 cup +
Fresh Basil: few leaves
Salt & Pepper: as per taste

Preparation:

Pizza Dough:
Stir the water, oil, sugar, and salt in a cup until the sugar dissolves. Whisk the flour and yeast in a large bowl, make a well in the center and add the liquid . With hands/wooden spoon stir the flour into the liquid to make a rough dough. Pull the dough together into a ball and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, using more flour if necessary to keep from sticking. Form into a ball and put on a lightly oiled bowl. Brush the tops of the dough with oil (rotate the dough ball within the bowl), cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to rise at room temperature until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Marinara Sauce:
Heat oil in a pan,add finely chopped onions and crushed garlic and saute till the raw smell goes.Add in tomato puree,salt,pepper,fresh basil and bring to a boil.Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.Adjust salt & pepper.

Pizza:
Punch down the dough and let it rest for atleast 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400F by placing a pizza stone (baker' stone) in the lowest rack.Now I do not have a pizza stone,so I placed a baking sheet lined with foil in the lowest rack while the oven preheated.

Put the dough ball onto a worksurface and using the heel of your hands (not fingers) stretch it to a circle,rotating the dough in between presses.You can make it as thin as you want or as far as you could before your patience runs out.Normally 1/8th inch thick pizza is required.


Spread the sauce on the pizza in a thin, even layer, making sure to leave a 1/4-inch border around the edges of the pizza. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the mozzarella. Normally sliced mozzarella is preferred.I used both shredded and sliced.(The pics are not so perfect as I was sure the from-the scratch pizza would be a failure,but was surprised that turned out pretty well.So much for my confidence in myself)

Slide the pizza onto the baking sheet and bake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the bottom of the crust begins to brown.

Remove from the oven, tear the basil leaves and scatter over the pizza. Slice with a pizza cutter and serve immediately.

The pizza was heavenly delicious and perfect especially this was the first time I made te dough from scratch.I never expected basil to taste soooooooooooooo good.

Another alternate way to make this is to avoid the sauce and simply layer the tomato and mozzarella slices alternately thus avoiding the marinara.

UPDATE on Aug 06,2009: This was meant for Weekend Wokking:Cheese, an event by Wanderdering Chopsticks and hosted by healthy and lovely blogger Yasmeen of HealthNut.Though I missed the deadline,dear Yasmeen has been kind enough to accept this very late entry.So the simple yet delicious Pizza Margherita is off to join the delicious dishes in WW:Cheese roundup . Some things are better late than never.Thanks Yasmeen.

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