The margherita, queen of all foodie pizzas, is simple yet wonderful. Anytime we serve pizzas during our garden’s basil season (May through October this year!), we make at least one margherita before getting more complex.
We fell in love with tomato and basil during our honeymoon trip to Italy. Somehow in my first 25 years, I never knew this glorious (and somewhat common) combination. Pizza margherita is always a crowd favorite in our house, though ours isn’t quite the same as fresh pizza and people watching on the Piazza Navona in Rome.
Nevertheless, we have practiced our method. We’ve burned, dropped, doused, torn, and pretty much screwed up a pizza in every way possible. But, we finally have a margherita that we like (including a time saving no-cook sauce). Now, all we need is a return trip to Italy to grade our progress.
Pizza Margherita with No-Cook Tomato Sauce
Makes 1 medium pizza
What You Need
1 pizza dough
28 oz can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano if possible) – Note: 1 can will make enough sauce for at least 4 pizzas.
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cloves garlic
Handful of mozzarella cheese (sliced fresh if you are feeling fancy, shredded if it’s a weeknight)
Handful of fresh basil
What You Do
1 Place your pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500°F. Follow the pizza dough recipe to make sure it is ready.
2 Prepare the tomato sauce by mixing a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried basil, and 1 tsp red wine vinegar. Stir it up and add salt and pepper to taste. When it is ready to go, it should be just a little bit tart from the vinegar.
3 Mince the 3 cloves garlic.
4 When the oven is ready, either put the dough on a floured pizza peel (if you are so lucky), or pull the pizza stone out of the oven and carefully place the dough on it.
5 Quickly assemble the pizza. Spread the tomato sauce thinly over the dough (not too much!), sprinkle on the minced garlic and as much mozzarella cheese as you like, and top with some fresh grated parmesan and a pinch of salt. Also, I like to brush a little olive oil on the crust to help it brown.
6 Bake the pizza until the cheese and crust are nicely browned. This is about 5 to 7 minutes, but just keep an eye on it.
7 Allow the pizza to cool for a minute or two before adding the basil on top (whole leaves or lightly torn). Enjoy quickly before the basil turns from a vivid green to a sad spinach color.