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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Margherita Pizza

Alton Brown is one of my favorite chefs (TV personalities?), yet he often falls to the back of my mind. Then someone says those two magic words and I have to make whatever they are talking about, because I know it will be fantastic.


I've made margherita pizza before at home. While it was good, and hit the spot, I recently saw someone recommend Alton Brown's version. Naturally, the challenge was on. I had to make his recipe, and soon. Luckily, it's not too hard to convince my husband that I need to forgo any other plans and make pizza. He is always ready for pizza!


This recipe was no exception to the AB rule. Marinating and grilling the tomatoes is such a great way to add new depth to this pizza. My only complaint would be that the amount of mozzarella and tomato seems small for the size of the pizza dough. I'll admit to not measuring the size that I rolled the dough to, but I know I was in the vicinity of 16 inches and I felt the toppings were a bit sparse. It was easy to add more mozzarella and basil, but next time I will have to remember to add a bit more tomato as well. Either way, the flavor is fantastic, and is definitely my go-to way for making margherita pizza.


Margherita Pizza
Source: Slightly adapted from Alton Brown
  • Enough dough for one 16" pizza (see below for a whole wheat pizza dough recipe)
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 1/3-inch thick slices
  • 5 to 7 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2-ounce grated Parmesan
  • 4 ounces part skim mozzarella, shredded or sliced thin into rounds
  • handful large basil leaves, shredded
Heat a gas grill to high and make sure the grill grates are clean and free of debris.

Toss the tomato with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the garlic, salt and red pepper flakes in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

Lightly flour the countertop and flatten the dough ball. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 16-inch round, rotating and stretching the dough as you go. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured pizza peel or baking sheet and stretch to re-shape if necessary.

Oil the grill grates and decrease the heat to medium. Brush the dough with 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil and flip onto 1 end of the hot grill, leaving room for the tomatoes on the grate. Put the prepared tomatoes on the grill, close the lid and cook until the bottom of the crust is golden brown and the tomatoes are softened, about 1 to 2 minutes. Brush the raw side of the dough with 1 to 2 teaspoons of olive oil, then immediately flip using the peel. Top with the grilled tomatoes, smashing and spreading the tomatoes to create a sauce. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, mozzarella and basil. Close the lid and cook until the bottom of crust is golden brown and the cheese has melted, another 1 to 2 minutes. Shift the pizza back onto the pizza peel or baking sheet (a large, flat spatula may help), and move the pizza to a cooling rack to let rest for 3 minutes before slicing.

I was in a pinch (you know, since this urge was sudden) for pizza dough as I didn't have any of my old standby... well, on standby in the freezer. I turned to an issue of Everyday Food for a semi-whole wheat pizza dough recipe that could be made in one day. I found it easy to work with and think it makes a very good crust. One recipe make enough dough for two 16" pizzas.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Source: Everyday Food Magazine, January 2009
  • 1 1/2 cups warm (115 degrees) water
  • 2 packets ( ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for kneading
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)

Place water in a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Brush another large bowl with oil.

In bowl with yeast, whisk sugar, oil, and salt. Stir in flours with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to oiled bowl; brush top of dough with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm spot until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. With floured hands, knead until smooth, about 15 seconds; divide into two balls.

Shape one ball into desired size for pizza. Other ball can be wrapped in plastic wrap, stored in a ziploc bag, and frozen. Thaw completely in refrigerator before use.


Christina said...

Yum! I have been wanting to do a margherita pizza. Can't wait to try this!

Jen said...

FYI, AB is my boyfriend, so you can't have him. MH is aware of this fact and I think has a slight man-crush on him too. I agree about the AB rule. Everything I've made from him is awesome. The pizza looks great btw!

The Sugar Queen said...

I just happened upon your blog through someone else's blog roll, and I love what I see! You've got a new follower!