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Best Recipes, Mains, Vegetarian

Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita
Los Angeles Times

It didn't hit me until I was loading firebrick into the back of my clean car one Sunday afternoon that maybe my little "project" was turning into more of an obsession. All I wanted was a really good homemade pizza. ... Read more

Total time: 35 minutes, plus heating time for the oven | Makes 2 (10- to 12-inch) pizzas, about 12 slices

Basic tomato sauce

  • 1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons pitted and chopped kalamata olives, from about 10 whole
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • Salt

Step 1Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor or a blender and add the basil, oregano, garlic, olives and pepper. Pulse the sauce until thoroughly combined and smooth. Taste the sauce and season as needed (canned tomatoes will vary widely with sodium content, resulting in some sauces that require less salt than others). Remove the sauce to a bowl, lightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. This makes about 3 cups tomato sauce.

Pizza assembly

  • 2 prepared pizza dough disks (see related recipe)
  • 1/2 cup basic tomato sauce, divided
  • 1 cup grated low-moisture mozzarella cheese, divided, plus more if desired
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided, plus more if desired

Step 1Prepare the oven, setting the temperature as high as it will go (most ovens will reach 500 to 550 degrees). It's best to start heating the oven at least 45 minutes before you plan to start baking.

Step 2Place one pizza disk on a peel sprinkled with extra flour or cornmeal to prevent sticking. Spread one-fourth cup sauce over the pizza, then sprinkle one-half cup mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan evenly over the sauce.

Step 3Slide the first pizza into the oven. The pizza will be done when the crust is puffed and rich golden-brown in color, the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling gently, from 6 to 12 minutes depending on how your oven is set up (the hotter the oven, the shorter the time). Remove the first pizza and cool for a minute or two to set up for cleaner slicing, or set aside in a warm place until the second pizza is baked.

Step 4Allow the oven to reheat while you assemble the second pizza. Bake the second pizza and serve immediately.

Note: The tomato sauce recipe makes 3 cups sauce, more than is needed for the two pizzas here. The remainder can be covered and refrigerated for up to one week. The sauce also makes a good dipping sauce and can be quickly simmered for use as a pasta sauce.


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