Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pizza with Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Basil (Pizza Margherita)

Today, we're featuring a recipe from one of our newer releases: Anna Teresa Callen's My Love for Naples, an exploration of the food, history and life of the Neapolitan region of Italy. Anna Teresa is truly "one of the national treasures of Italian cookery," and this is a particularly simple, but delicious, recipe for Pizza Margherita. As Anna Teresa writes:
In my opinion, this is the pizza that conquered the world. A famous Neapolitan pizzaiolo (pizzamaker), a certain Mr. Esposito, was once invited to the royal palace to make pizza. In honor of the Italian Queen Margherita he decided to top the pizza with ingredients in the three colors of the Italian flag: tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. He called it Margherita, and a legend was born. Remember though, that the basil must be fresh to truly represent the bright green of the Italian flag.

Makes 2 (8-inch) pizzas

1 batch Focaccia and Pizza Dough (Anna Teresa's Neapolitan pizza dough recipe is included in My Love for Naples)
2 or 3 ripe, fresh tomatoes, sliced
1 pound whole-milk mozzarella, chopped
24 fresh basil leaves

Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and lightly oil two 8-inch pizza pans.

Divide the dough into two balls and place them in the prepared pans. With oiled hands, stretch the dough the size of the pan and as thin as possible. Shape a wall of dough all around the edges to better contain the toppings.

Anna Teresa, working her magic

Place the tomato slices at regular intervals on the dough. Scatter the mozzarella over the tomatoes and place 8 leaves of the basil on each pizza. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with some salt.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the edges of the dough start to brown. Garnish with the remaining fresh basil. Cut into wedges and serve.

All pictures courtesy of Kenneth Chen.

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