Margharita Pizza

As a child I didn’t really like pizza. Then again, I also didn’t like mashed potatoes, french fries or steak so it could be argued that I just didn’t like delicious food.

College changed all of that. Between living on free pizza being given away on campus to the fact that I could buy a pizza and eat it for DAYS, pizza grew on me. Still wasn’t my favorite, but free and/or cheap was my go to in college.

Then we moved to Italy. Obviously the pizza as amazing, and I am trying to recreate the thin, flavor packed dough we would have there. I have not mastered it yet. But living in Italy re-ruined American pizza for me. So heavy! So greasy! Why is the crust so thick and sweet?

This pizza, is my happy medium. American pizza with less sugar basically. I do have an excellent “American” Pizza crust recipe, but you do have to make it in the morning, thus requiring some pre-mediation.

On this particular  pizza, homemade sauce tops a *gasp* store bought dough (When I decide I want pizza later in the day, I buy the fresh dough from the deli section of my grocery store, typically Whole Foods or Publix). Crowned with mozzarella and chopped grape tomatoes, topped post-bake with basil from my plant outside. (That I haven’t killed!!!!) Easy peasy.

Even better, this sauce is made with pantry staples. A can of diced tomatoes, fresh garlic, tomato paste, olive oil, and dried herbs. All in all, I would say you can have pizza in 30 minutes, faster than delivery!

Margharita Pizza

  • Servings: makes a medium pizza, serves 2 to 4 depending on appetites
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

For Pizza

  • 1 store bought pizza crust, or homemade dough
  • 16 ounces fresh mozzarella
  • 15 grape tomatoes
  • 6 leaves fresh basil
  • Pizza Sauce

For Pizza Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes (I buy brands with no added sugar)
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste (ditto no sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Pre-heat your oven to 500°F or whatever temp your particular crust requires. If you have a pizza stone, pop it in the oven while you are pre-heating. If you are using a sheet pan skip this step.

Place a large pan over medium high heat on the stove. Add your olive oil, when warm, toss in your garlic and give it a quick stir. Add your diced tomatoes. Cook tomatoes and garlic over the stove for about 5 minutes. Add powdered garlic and onion powder, as well as dried herbs. Then carefully pour into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour back into pan and add tomato paste. Stir to combine and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Leave in pan over low heat.

Now that your sauce is done, take your pizza stone out of the oven with hot pads and place on a safe workspace (if you have a pizza paddle leave in oven and use paddle. I don’t. If you are using a sheet pan, just pull it out of the cabinet and place on workspace)

Stretch dough on stone/pan into a circle to your desired thickness. Generously spread pizza sauce all over dough. Add cheese and chopped tomatoes. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until dough is golden brown on the edged and cooked through. Remove from oven and top with fresh basil Serve and eat!

Note: Fresh tomatoes will probably make the top of the pizza a little watery as the water comes from the tomatoes while baking. I just took a paper towel and absorbed some of the water, like you do with really greasy pizza.

Advertisement

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

We have really enjoyed a mild spring (for Georgia) and the heat and humidity are starting to creep in. I loathe the summers here. Summer has never been my favorite season, and the oppressive humidity here makes it worse. But fortunately, we have swimming pools, air-conditioning, and this simple lemonade to help us cool down.

helpmethisphotoisterribleLD

This recipe was inspired by a flavored water I started drinking when we lived in Italy. I would mash some strawberries with some basil and throw them in a pitcher of water in the fridge. The herbaceous flavor of the basil and the sweet strawberries perfectly complimented each other, delicately flavoring the water when sometimes plain ice water isn’t enough.

DSCN3167

Being back in the Deep South summer reminds me of high school, sweating out on the porch next to the pool with icy lemonade trying to get the perfect tan. Though classic lemonade will always have a special place in my heart, I wanted to dress it up a bit, as well as use up some quickly decaying strawberries in my fridge.

This recipe starts with a simple syrup, both in name and execution. I brought one cup of sugar and one cup of cold filtered water to a boil, and gently boiled until the sugar dissolved. I threw in a handful of shredded basil leaves and refrigerated it overnight. I could (and did, just a bit) drink this syrup by itself. It is so worth the time and minimal effort, the cocktails you could make with it are endless.

Then I juiced some lemons, threw them into the blender with this syrup, some strawberries and a little water. A quick blend and it turned out better than I expected. Slightly sweet and tart, with a little something that doesn’t immediately identify as basil, but brings a smile to your face. My toddler also lit up when he sampled and quickly demanded “juice!” with a point to the blender. SO a definite crowd pleaser.

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

  • Servings: 4 glasses
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

 

Ingredients

  • Juice from 4 lemons/a little over 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 5 strawberries, washed and hulled
  • 1/2 cup basil simple syrup
  • 2 cups cold water

For Basil Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 large basil leaves, torn

Directions

A day in advance, add your sugar and water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Gently boil, stirring occasionally until dissolved. Add basil leave, and let cool overnight.

When you are ready to make your lemonade, add the lemon juice, strawberries, basil syrup and cold water to a blender. Blend until pink and frothy, then strain into a pitcher or whatever you want. Add ice and enjoy!