Thursday, May 26, 2011

Margherita Pizza

Zachary and I are trying an experiment this month. We sat down for Family Home Evening a couple weeks ago with a few cookbooks, paper, and pens. We spent an hour or so picking through the cookbooks for recipes that sounded good or we thought it might be fun to try. Then we put down one meal for each day of the month of May. Since there's only 2 of us and a lot of recipes we found were for 4 people on average, we figured it works out perfect to give us leftovers for lunch the next day! We even have a rating scale for all of this. One scale is for how good the food was and the other scale is for how affordable the meal was. So far, it has worked out fantastically! I feel like the hardest part about cooking is deciding what to make in the first place. This experiment has taken a lot of burden off of both our shoulders.

One of Zachary's picks was Margherita Pizza. I had never had it before, but I like pizza so I thought why not? Then I found out that it doesn' even have marinara sauce or anything on it. I thought, "No way could this ever be good." I was wrong. It was de-FREAKING-lightful!

picture found here
Doesn't it look delish?

It is fairly cheap and it definitely got an "I could eat this everyday" on our rating scale. Here's the recipe:

For the pizza dough:

- 1 1/2 c. hot water (as hot as you can run it from the tap, NOT BOILING or you will kill the yeast)
- 1 1/2 tsp. dry active yeast
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- oil for greasing the bowl

For the Margherita topping:

- olive oil for brushing
- 4 cloves sliced garlic
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, or similar quantity of small ones, or cherry tomatoes (whatever you have on hand, can purchase at the grocery store, or can pick out of your garden)
- 3/4 c. grated mozzarella
- 1/4 c. grated parmesan
- about 15 large fresh basil leaves

(IMPORTANT NOTE: this dough recipe is good for TWO pizzas, so if you want two Margherita pizzas, just double the amount of Margherita topping ingredients, OR you could top that second pizza with your choice of traditional pizza toppings.)

1. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the hot water. Use the hottest water that you can run from your kitchen tap. DO NOT use boiling water or you will kill the yeast, and your dough will not rise. Let the yeast "bloom" for 5 minutes.

2. Add the olive oil, sugar and salt to the yeast, and stir.

3. Measure the flour into a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and, using a wooden spoon, stir until well combined. The dough will appear VERY gooey - this is normal, as it makes a much more tender dough. DO NOT add more flour to the dough during this step.

4. Brush or spray some oil over the sides of the bowl and the top of the dough. Flip the ball of dough over and oil the other side. This will help when removing the dough after rising.

5. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and set in a warm location to rise for 1 hour. Looking for a warm location? Try above the fridge, above you cabinets, or on the stove as you're preheating the oven for the next step!

Onto the good stuff - this is where you can easily diverge from the recipe and top your pizza however you want, but I STRONGLY suggesting Margherita toppings. If, however, you choose to go your own way, skip ahead to the next step for directions for how to bake the pizza.

1. Slice the tomatoes as thinly as possible. Use a serrated knife to make the task easier. The more thinly you can slice them, the less soggy your pizza will get after baking. Set them aside for now.

2. Mix the mozzarella and parmesan together. Set them aside for now.

3. Thinly slice the garlic cloves and set them aside. Wash the fresh basil to remove any traces of dirt, then lay them out on paper towels to dry. These will only go on the pizza AFTER baking, or else they will dry out and lose all their flavor in the oven. By putting the basil on the pizza after cooking, they will slowly release they flavor as they warm with the residual heat of the freshly-baked pizza. (We have tried it with dry basil and it worked out fine as well.) Now you are ready to garnish your pizza!

1. Preheat the oven to 500 F. Set one rack in the lowest position in your oven. If you have a pizza stone, place it on the rack before you preheat, so that it can heat to the same temperature as the oven. If you don't have a pizza stone, you can just as easily bake the pizza on a baking sheet. A pizza stone is a good investment, however, as it makes for a nice crisp outside and tender inside to your pizza crust. I highly recommend it. (They can be found for $7.99 at Ross. Holla!)

2.  Roll out half the pizza dough for one pizza, to 3/4-inch thick. Place it on the pizza stone or baking sheet. If using the baking stone, be careful not to burn yourself!

3. Now for the toppings: Brush or spray the top of the rolled-out dough. This is important, as it creates a barrier between the dough and the juicy tomatoes, which prevents the dough from getting soggy. Sprinkle the garlic slices over the oiled dough. Place the tomato slices/halves/pieces over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch space on the edge for holding the crust, and overlapping the slices where necessary. Sprinkle the mixture of cheeses over the top of the tomatoes. (If you are using dry basil, this is where you would sprinkle it to taste, over the cheese.) That's it - your pizza is topped!

4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on how brown you like your crust, and how hot your oven runs.

Once that timer rings, remove the pizza from the oven, either on its baking sheet or using a pair of tongs to slide it off the stone and onto a cutting board. Turn off the oven.

Immediately place the fresh basil leaves on top of the freshly-baked pizza. The heat from the melted cheese will wilt the basil and release all the flavorful oils into the air and into the pizza.

Time to enjoy a taste of traditional Italy - grab your pizza wheel and slice into a piece of heaven. I think Margherita has become my favorite food. Try it and let me know what you think!


Calories: 226 per slice (1/8 or pizza)
Total Fat: 4.9 g
   Saturated: 2.1 g
   Polyunsaturated: 0.3 g
   Monounsaturated: 2.1 g
   Trans: 0 g
Cholesterol: 10.3 mg
Sodium: 1011.7 mg
Potassium: 189.3 mg
Total Carbs: 37.3 g
   Dietary Fiber: 2.1 g
   Sugar: 4.2 g
Protein: 8.7 g
Vit. A: 8.5% DV
Vit. C 10.3% DV
Calcium: 11.2% DV
Iron: 9.3% DV

1 comment:

  1. I am probably trying this recipe out tomorrow! Thanks for the dinner idea! This looks fabulous! YUM!