Confession: When I was younger, I didn’t really like pizza. I’m not exactly sure when it was that I started enjoying pizza and all its cheesy goodness, but I’m pretty sure it started with some really great pizza margherita.
It’s my favorite pizza to order because while it’s simple, when it’s made at a nice restaurant, it often incorporates the freshest and best ingredients; all of the flavors are able to shine.
Pizza margherita is also incredibly easy to make at home. You can choose to use a store-bought pizza sauce, but like I said, this pizza margherita is most gratifying when you really use the best ingredients. And what gets better than homemade marinara?
I roast the marinara sauce (made from San Marzano tomatoesSan Marzano, Whole Peeled Tomatoes, 28 oz – very important!) to develop deeper flavor, which works like magic.
I also make sure to use fresh mozzarella rather than the pre-shredded kind, which is also really vital to getting optimal flavor.
When I tell people who don’t bake a lot that I make my own pizza dough, they often look at me like I’m crazy. If you’ve made your own pizza dough, then you believe me when I say pizza dough is honestly not a difficult thing to make.
I have one friend who always buys her dough from Trader Joe’s, which is totally fine in my book because it still tastes good, but I’m that person who feels like it requires more effort to get in my car and drive to the store to pick up pre-made dough than throw some ingredients together in my mixer.
Also, because the marinara sauce roasts in the oven for an hour, you already have the down time you need for the pizza dough to rest and rise.
Assembling the pizza margherita is as easy as baking goes. Simply smear the marinara over the rolled out pizza dough, top with some rounds of sliced mozzarella, and then once the pizza margherita is out of the oven, garnish with a handful of basil leaves.
I prefer my pizza dough crispy, so I just assemble the pizza as described and bake it on a hot pizza stone (like this one) for approximately 20 to 22 minutes. If you like a fluffier pizza crust, you can bake the pizza for less time or without a pizza stone.
The resulting pizza margherita is positively enticing.
The crust has just the slightest bit of honey in the dough to really bring out the taste of the salt and olive oil without sweetening the dough.
The marinara is more than just puréed tomatoes; it’s vivid sweetness and engaging acidity is a result of Italy’s finest tomatoes having been infused with garlic, onion, oregano, and red pepper.
The fresh cheese on top bubbles and melts into big pools, giving each slice a blissful bite of creaminess.
The basil adds just the right amount of vibrancy to round out the entire dish, making this pizza sensational.
The aroma alone will have you envisioning the colorful coast of Naples, Italy. In fact, it’s so titillating, you’ll probably burst out into song…maybe a little Tarantella Napoletana?
for the dough
- 1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting hands and work surface
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp honey
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp warm water, 105°F to 110°F
- cornmeal to sprinkle on your pan
for the marinara
- 1 tbsp good olive oil
- 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 14 oz San Marzano puréed tomatoes
- kosher salt and ground pepper for seasoning
- 8 oz. ball of fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4" thick
- grated Parmesan cheese for garnishing
- basil for garnishing
- Begin by creating your pizza dough. To your mixer's bowl, add the olive oil, honey, and yeast. Pour in the water and then use your hand to gently stir the mixture together. Add in the flour and the salt to the wet ingredients, then knead on low speed using the paddle attachment on your mixer until everything's combined.
- Turn out the dough onto a well-floured work surface and give the dough several kneads to create a smooth ball. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl, rolling it around in the bowl so that its surface is covered in some of the oil. Cover the bowl with a light kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) and place in a warm, draft-free area for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Meanwhile, prepare the marinara. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof pan (one that has a lid) or a dutch oven. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the pan; sauté over medium heat until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add in the red pepper flakes and dried oregano and cook for another minute. Pour in the vodka and simmer for about 6 to 7 minutes, or until it’s been reduced by half.
- Add the tomato purée, along with 1 teaspoons of salt and 1/4 a teaspoon of ground pepper; stir to combine. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and roast in the oven for 1 hour. Once it’s done, do a taste test for salt; add more salt if needed.
- Raise the oven temperature to 450°F for your pizza. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Alternatively, use a pizza stone. Turn out the risen dough onto a lightly floured work surface to shape into a round circle, as thick or thin as you desire. Transfer this round of dough to your hot pizza stone or baking sheet. Spread your prepared marinara sauce over the entire pizza, leaving just a small border around the edges bare. Top with about 6 to 7 thin slices of mozzarella.
- Bake the pizza for 10 minutes on the lowest rack in your oven and then 7 to 10 minutes on the highest rack, or until all the cheese has melted and become bubbly, and the crust is golden brown. Garnish with fresh basil and grated parmesan.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 4 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 297