I’m still cooking my way through as many countries as I can. This next stop is
The dish I chose for this country is
I really had a tough time choosing what to cook from Italy. I am such a pasta lover and I know that most of the “Italian” dishes we have here in the states are more Americanized. Don’t get me wrong, I love them but I really wanted to keep this as authentic as I could, so I chose not a pasta dish at all, but pizza….and one of my hubby’s favorite at that.
One of my hubby’s favorite pizza is a Pizza Margherita ( or as some call it a Margherita Pizza). I’ve eaten a few slices in my time and I can understand why my hubby loves it so much. I knew the color of the basil, mozzarella and the sauce represented the colors of the Italian flag, but I never really thought about the history behind it and is it truly an Italian pizza, not one born here in the US?
I did indeed find that yes, it is originally from Naples, Italy.
Should I point out that while I was doing this research I was savoring a few slices of pepperoni and bacon pizza….which does not originally come from Italy, but what can I say, I’m a pizza lover of just about any type and on a side note, typing while holding said pizza can get a little messy….I’m just saying.
Getting back to the topic at hand…
It is believed that in 1889 King Umberto and his wife Queen Margherita of Savoy visited Naples. The queen grew tired of the French cuisine that was offered. She asked Raffaele Esposito, chef of Pizzeria Brandi to create a pizza for her, for she had already heard of the Neapolitan pizza and wanted to try one. He created 3 for her, one with cheese and basil, one with garlic and one with tomato, mozzarella and basil. She liked the 3rd so much that Esposito named the pizza after her. Whether the story is indeed true or not, it has grown into one of the most recognizable symbol of Italian food culture.
I’ve made a lot of pizza, but never this type so I really wanted to do it justice….and well, impress the hubby. It did turn out a little rustic and maybe not as pretty as some I have seen, but the taste was well….heavenly. The sauce is a simple sauce, like a Pizza Margherita should be, and I have to admit I had to restrain myself not to add any herbs and I’m so glad that I didn’t because less is truly more. The fresh mozzarella and the basil add such a wonderful flavor. When using fresh mozzarella, look for the kind that is not packed in water, but if that is all that you can find be sure to drain it really well. Also, use fresh basil leaves, not the dried kind because it truly does make a difference.
I did use a store bought pizza dough, but you can make your own of course. If you are going to use pre made dough, look for a good quality kind. Some pizza places even sell their dough as well. The only thing that I will do differently the next time that I make this, is to make the dough thinner because it did come out a little thicker than I intended, but the flavor was really good.
Here’s what you need to make your own:
*1 LB Pizza dough; pre made or your favorite recipe (this will make 2 pizzas)
*28 oz. can San Marzano whole tomatoes
*salt and pepper to taste
*2 large garlic clove grated with a microplane or pressed
*Mozzarella, fresh and not packed in water or drained and pat dry with a paper towel.
Prepare dough according to package directions or follow your favorite recipe
Divide into two balls and drizzle with olive oil.
Preheat oven to 450°.
In a blender add the tomatoes and blend until smooth; pour into a bowl.
Stir in the salt, pepper, 1 tsp. olive oil and the garlic.
Brush pizza pans with olive oil.
Stretch dough into roughly a 10 inch circle…or as best as you can. If the dough is too elastic, let rest for 5 minutes.
Spoon some of the sauce onto each pizza dough.
Tear a few large pieces of the mozzarella and place it evenly around the pizza.
Tear the basil leaves and place on top of the mozzarella. I know some add the basil after the pizza has been cooked, but I like mine cooked with the pizza. It’s your choice.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the pizza.
Bake for 12 minutes or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly.
Cut into slices and serve.