Margherita Pizza – the beauty is in its simplicity. Thinly sliced, garden fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and torn basil leaves atop a crispy, chewy crust baked in a scorching hot oven. My version has a few twists, namely, I used whole canned tomatoes because fresh ones are not in season around Chicago this time of year. I also added a little Pecorino Romano for a nutty undertone. The result was a pizza with a perfectly chewy crust, sweet tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and organic fresh basil. It may not have been completely traditional, but by-cracky, it was out of this world delicious. Fresh margherita pizza in Chicago in the middle of winter – who knew?
My apologies for the less than stellar photo quality. I made this pie at night and well, there were no leftovers to photograph in better light the next day. It went fast! But as a chef at heart, it’s all about the food to me. If I can manage to produce quality pictures as well, it’s a bonus!
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup San Marzano canned, whole tomatoes, crush (just use your hands)
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
- 1 package (8 ounce) fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp. grated Pecorino Romano
- 3 – 4 basil leaves, torn into bite-size pieces
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- Add flour, salt and yeast to a large bowl. Mix to evenly distribute all ingredients.
- Add water and mix using hands, until a rough ball forms. The dough will not be smooth and elastic like typical pizza dough. This is okay.
- Place dough in a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for at least 18 hours. *Note* After 24 hours, remove from bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, if not using immediately.
- Meanwhile, add tomatoes, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt and sugar to a small pot over medium heat. Cook, until thickened, stirring often for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Remove half of the pizza dough from the refrigerator about an hour before you are ready to cook the pizza. You want the dough at room temperature so the gluten has a chance to relax, which will make stretching the pizza easier.
- Refrigerate or freeze the remaining dough.
- Place pizza stone (if using) into oven and pre-heat to 450 degrees.
- Stretch dough onto a pizza peel or inverted baking sheet that has been lightly dusted with a mixture of flour and corn meal.
- Top dough with tomato sauce, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano.
- Bake pizza for 6 – 8 minutes and then evenly spread torn basil on top. Return to oven and cook for another 5 – 7 minutes until cheese is melted and crust is lightly browned.
- Remove from oven, drizzle with olive oil, slice and serve.