Quarantine Cooking: Pizza Margherita

Because you should always want pizza

As+it+is+in+every+other+form%2C+this+pizza+is+perfect.

MINDY MALONE

As it is in every other form, this pizza is perfect.

MINDY MALONE, Evergreen columnist

Fashion designer Simon Porte Jacquemus made a video for French Vogue detailing how to make Pizza Margherita. Because I love Jacquemus and had nothing else to do, I gave the recipe a try.

I give it a strong five stars – the crust was crisp, but not crunchy, and the flavors blended perfectly. I was worried the olive oil might make it greasy, but it was such a small amount it worked fine.

The recipe calls for a tomato coulis – pureed tomatoes mixed with garlic, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper – for the sauce, and I was planning on making that until I realized there were no fresh tomatoes in the house or garden.

At the time I was making this, I was staying in a small town with a shoebox-size town store. I was hoping to find pizza sauce to save myself some time and ended up buying Ragu. I can’t guarantee you it’s the best pizza sauce out there since it was the only kind the store carried and I didn’t have a choice, but I thought it was good.

I was hoping to get mozzarella balls I could tear apart and sprinkle on my pizza, but I ended up with a cylinder-shaped block that needed to be sliced, then torn. Also, one block was more than enough. Only buy two if you’re planning on making three to four of these pizzas.

I served it as an hors d’oeuvre and, even though there were 16 slices, it didn’t last long. This recipe was so easy to make and tasted so good I don’t know if I’ll ever buy a pizza again.

Ingredients:

  • 250 grams flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1 sachet baker’s yeast (an individual packet or .32 ounces)
  • 150 mL warm water (about 5 ounces)
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 packet of tomato puree
  • 2 balls mozzarella di buffalo
  • Fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the middle.
  2. Add the warm water and salt. Mix with a spatula while adding the olive oil.
  3. Add the yeast, then start kneading with your hands.
  4. Knead the base until it forms a ball that’s no longer sticky. If it still sticks you can add a little flour.
  5. When the base is ready, cover with a hot, damp tea towel so the dough can rise and double in size. I chose to set my dough bowl out in the sun, but I don’t know if it made any difference.
  6. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. You can relax for a bit since the dough will take at least an hour to rise.
  7. Once the base has risen well, sprinkle flour on the worktop and start rolling it out with your hands. Don’t be too gentle or it’ll take a while.
  8. Put a little flour on it, then take your rolling pin (or an empty wine bottle if you’ve lost your pin) and roll it out to the thickness you want. Jacquemus prefers a thin, crispy crust, but I prefer mine a little thicker. I opted for a rectangle shape for easier eating, but a traditional circle is just fine.
  9. Then put the base on baking paper (I didn’t have any so I used tin foil) put it in the oven like this if you want it crispy, or begin garnishing it.
  10. Spread the tomato in a spiral pattern on the base little by little.
  11. Add the mozzarella – dry is better because it won’t make the pizza soggy. For drier mozzarella, set it out when you start the dough mixture. Now is also when you can add basil, if you want some cooked.
  12. Add a trickle of olive oil to finish it off. A quick diagonal zigzag works best.
  13. Move the pizza into the oven, then take it out once the crust is crispy (about 10-15 minutes).
  14. If you want, you can add some fresh mozzarella and basil on top.
  15. Slice and serve.