One of the best things about Italian food is that, in general, the Italians keep it simple: start with excellent ingredients and then don’t mess them up. Don’t get me wrong, I love a rich, French sauce that took hours to reduce, but when you’ve got fresh mozzerella, sweet basil and ripe tomatoes, you don’t need half a day or even an hour to get amazing flavor! Hence, today’s Meatless Monday feature: Margarita Pizza.
Margarita pizza is one of my favorite dishes of all time, and it also just happens to be meatless. What’s not to love about it? That combination of crunchy and chewy crust along with the fresh, rustic flavors of the toppings is absolutely heaven. Plus, this pizza is a crowd pleaser for all ages, which makes it perfect for entertaining.
The keys to success for Margarita pizza are fresh ingredients and fresh dough. Luckily, as yeast breads go, pizza dough is quite easy to make (see recipe below). If you’re not so inclined to make it yourself, many grocery store chains (like Trader Joe’s) actually sell frozen pizza dough that tastes great and makes fresh pizza even easier.
To make Margarita Pizza:
1 5/6″ ball fresh pizza dough (1/2 recipe Easy Pizza Dough)
1/2 – 3/4 cup of your favorite tomato-basil sauce
1 large, ripe tomato, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
10-12 large basil leaves
1 large ball fresh mozzerella cheese, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
1. Place rack in bottom position in the oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
2. Place ball of pizza dough on lightly-floured counter. Flatten into 8″ disk. Gently stretch disk into 14-inch round by pulling outer edge, giving the disk a quarter turn, and pulling again until it reaches desired size. Place round of pizza dough on pizza pan or large cookie sheet.
3. Evenly spread tomato sauce on pizza. Alternately, you can skip the sauce and just put olive oil and minced garlic on the pizza crust.
4. Evenly place tomatoes on the pizza. Put pizza in oven to bake for 8-10 minutes, or until crust begins to brown.
5. Remove pizza from oven and place rounds of cheese evenly on pizza and return to oven for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
6. Remove pizza from oven again and place basil leaves evenly on top of pizza. Slice and serve immediately!
Here is a great and very easy recipe for amazing pizza dough. Making it up in a food processor makes the process very quick and simple. I can attest that bread flour works great in this recipe, as it creates a nice, chewy crust. However, you can also use all-purpose flour and get good results. This recipe makes enough dough for two pizzas. I usually make one pizza and put the other ball of pizza dough in my freezer to use for another dinner.
Easy Pizza Dough (adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook)
4-4 1/4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1. Pulse 4 cups flour, yeast and salt in food processor fitted with dough blade (if possible) until combined. This usually takes about 5 1-second pulses. With food processor running, slowly add oil, then water. Process until rough ball forms, 30-40 seconds. Let dough rest for approximately 2 minutes. Process 30 seconds longer. If dough is still sticky and clings to blade, add remaining 1/4 cup flour 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is no longer sticky.
2. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand into a smooth, round ball. Place dough in a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover bowl with greased plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 1 – 1 1/2 hours, before using.
3. After dough has risen, transfer onto lightly-floured counter, divide dough in half and form into spheres. If desired, wrap one ball of dough in double layer of plastic wrap and freeze for later use.
4. Use remaining ball of dough to make a Margarita pizza or another favorite and enjoy!