Best Margherita Pizza

If you’re like me, then you LOVE (yes, L-O-V-E) pizza. I like to say its thanks to my Italian heritage – but, who am I kidding. Pizza is just an awesome and often quick meal idea.

Margherita pizza is one of my favorite, dressed down pizzas. Absolutely simple to do and utterly delicious to eat! Not only is there the perfection of the crispy, handmade crust used in this recipe, but decadent mozzarella cheese, garden-fresh tomatoes, and aromatic basil. Utter perfection, at least in my book.

Best Margherita Pizza: To make this pizza, you will need…

  • 1 Tsp sugar
  • 1 Cup warm water
  • 1 envelope yeast
  • 3 1/4 Cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 12 oz mozzerella (you can use shredded, but fresh motz or buffalo motz or sliced/unsliced ball motz. Whatever you prefer!)
  • 8 oz feta, crumbled
  • 2-4 tomatoes, depending on the size of the tomatoes and the size of your pizza (I suggest using big tomatoes. Garden-picked ones are the best. If you don’t have a garden, then check out your local farmer’s market for kinds like Big Boy or try out some heritage tomatoes for a bit of excitement – these can come in yellow or pink, as well as red)
  • 1 onion, sweet yellow (Walla Walla)
  • Fresh Basil
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • Olive Oil

The first step is to make your crust. I absolutely love this recipe for pizza dough; it tastes great and you don’t need to let it rise for hours. I typically whip this dough together 2-3 hours before I plan on making the pizza. If you have leftover dough, it can be stored in the fridge for several more days and used for more pizzas or calzones.

To make the dough, add a 1/4 cup of the warm water to a mixing bowl and add the sugar. Stir it to dissolve, then add the yeast and let sit for about 5 minutes.

Once the five minutes are up, add the flour, salt, oil, and remaining water to the yeast mixture and mix well with the bread hook attachment. After everything has come together and is looking relatively dough-like, turn it out onto a lightly floured board or mat and knead until the dough is smooth and satiny. Depending on what the weather is like, I’ll sometimes add a bit more flour and knead it into the dough at this point, especially if the dough seems sticky.

Oil a bowl – I reuse the mixing bowl – with olive oil and put the dough ball in it, turning to coat the dough with oil. Take 1-2 paper towels and moisten them with warm water and drape them over the top of the bowl. Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free location. Oven often have proofing settings, that can work, or even just placing the dough in the oven with the door ajar is enough, since the light bulb in the oven gives off heat. If its really warm, placing the dough on the counter will work.

Let the dough rise for a couple of hours. Be sure to check it and punch it down a couple times (hint: opportunity to work out any anger issues…)

I test the dough and know it is ready to be used when I can form it into a rough crust shape and the dough does not retract a lot. At this point, select a handful dough and work it into a crust. I hand-stretch it and then roll it a bit with a pin. The crust should not be thin, maybe a 1/4″ in thickness or slightly under that is perfect.

Toss a bit of olive oil on the crust and spread it to the edges. Then, spread your cheese on the top. Be sure, whether using cut motz rounds or shredded motz, to leave a bit of space between the cheese and the edge of the crust for a hand-hold.

Shred the basil leaves and toss them on top of the cheese. At this point, I’ll put a few cranks of our salt and pepper shakers over the top of the pizza. Top the cheese and basil with the sliced tomatoes. I try to go edge-to-edge on the cheese with tomatoes. Try to keep the tomatoes sliced as thinly as possible too, since they are easier to eat this way.

Top off the tomatoes with onions. I use sweet yellow onions and cut them into rounds. To do this, peel the onion, then simply slice from the bottom, where the roots would have been, to the top. Take the rings, pop them apart, and scatter them over the pizza. Toss the crumbled feta over this and, voila, your pizza is complete.

Bake the pizza at 450 F for 15 minutes. You want the crust golden and the cheese bubbly. Some of the feta should have a slight browning on them, as well.

So, that’s the recipe. Simple, right? Give it a try. I’ve also used the crust recipe to make supreme pizzas and calzones (which are also great).

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