Eat in, instead of out tonight! This recipe for Margherita Pizza will convince you that the best pizza is homemade. It comes together in a few minutes using a mixer, if you don’t want to deal with dough, buy a loaf of French bread or even a baguette and top the bread with sauce, tomatoes, cheese and fresh basil…literally dinner in minutes!
Takeout vs homemade Margherita Pizza
Dough for beginners
Sometimes more is not better, it’s just more…
- pizza toppings enough for 3 pizzas or one recipe of dough
- olive oil about 2 tablespoons per pizza
- 1/2 lb fresh mozzarella sliced
- 2 Roma or other tomatoes sliced
- fresh basil leaves about 1/2 cup leaves
- fresh grated Parmesan optional
- additional dried basil oregano, sea salt and olive oil for topping after baking
Dough – makes 3 crusts 10-12 inch each
- 3/4 cup warm water 105°F to 115°F
- 1 envelope active dry yeast 2 1/4 teaspoons
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cups all purpose flour plus extra for rolling out and adding to dough
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
Sauce – generously makes enough for three 10-12 inch pizzas
- 1 14-15 oz can crushed tomatoes in puree or tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoon each: dried Italian seasoning OR parsley, basil and oregano OR about 2 tablespoons fresh each
- 1 clove minced garlic
- pinch of sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional) or Tomato Concentrado in Europe
About 1 hour before serving or one day ahead
Make the dough and set aside to rise. If making several hours or a day ahead, store in fridge.
Make the sauce and let simmer.
1/2 hour before cooking, preheat oven to 475 degrees and place rack in bottom third of oven.
Pour 3/4 cup warm water into small bowl; stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with about 1/4 teaspoon sugar, to help yeast grow.
Mix 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, and salt in lightly greased bowl of food processor or the bowl of stand mixer. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment until ready to knead.
Add yeast mixture and 3 tablespoons oil; process or mix until dough forms a sticky ball.
Slowly add remaining flour and knead in work bowl with dough hook or by hand.
Knead dough until smooth, adding more flour by tablespoon if dough is very sticky, about 1 minute. Do not add too much flour. The dough should be soft and not shiny or too sticky.
Turn dough in bowl to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. After dough has risen, punch down. Divide dough into 3 even balls of dough.
Roll out dough into 10-12 inch circles or rectangles. Start in center of dough, working outward toward edges. See notes on recipe for make ahead and storing instructions.
Pour sauce ingredients into medium saucepan: crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce, olive oil, herbs, garlic, pinch of sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until sauce is reduced to about 2 1/2 cups. You may also add tomato paste to thicken if you dont have time to simmer!
Set aside until ready to use. Sauce keeps covered and chilled, 5 days.
Grease pan with cooking spray or sprinkle with cornmeal or use a sheet of parchment
After the dough has risen, split into 3 dough balls and roll each one out to a 10-12 inch circle and place on a prepared cookie sheet or pizza pan.
Drizzle dough with olive oil and spread with spoon.
Spread prepared sauce onto crust, then top with mozzarella slices and tomato slices and fresh basil*.
Sprinkle with grated Parmesan if desired.
Place into oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bottom of crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and top with fresh basil leaves, drizzle with additional olive oil, sprinkle with dried basil or oregano and lightly sprinkle with sea salt.
Serve while hot.
- This recipe also works well to use as a base for any veggie or meat topped pizza! Buy any type of fresh veggies: chopped spinach, mushrooms, onions, peppers, and any type of meat you would like to use. If you don’t have fresh mozzarella, grated mozzarella or even a mixture of cheeses work.
- For Margherita Pizza recipe, I like to cook some of the fresh basil on the pizza and then sprinkle additional fresh basil on the pizza after cooking.
- This dough freezes well. I like to divide the dough into 2-3 balls of dough each recipe, pop into a Ziplock bag and freeze. If you are making the dough early in the day or a day or two before serving, no need to make balls of dough before refrigerating. Wrap dough in a gallon size Ziplock bag and squeeze the extra air out. Store in refrigerator up to two days. When ready to use, remove from refrigerator and let sit in bag on counter for an hour before serving, or roll out immediately and let sit for about 30 minutes before topping.
- For the sauce you may use all dry herbs or fresh, or a combination. Use what you have on hand if you can’t get to the store! Olive oil and garlic and a pinch of sugar make a difference in the sauce!
- Local Farmer’s Markets are a great place to buy fresh basil and better tasting tomatoes for less than half the price at most grocery stores in the summer months.
- Using a pizza stone will produce a crispier bottom crust. Highly recommended!
- Always bake on lower third of oven to insure the bottom of your crust is cooked.
- For no soggy bottom leftovers- I heat my pizza up over medium to medium high heat on the stove top! Use a teflon pan and heat with a piece of foil loosely covering the top. The crust on bottom will get crispy and the cheese will melt on top and heat the pizza perfectly!