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
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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.

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This and That

The picture above is another from our trip to Cinque Terre. With all of the World Cup excitement I am feeling a little nostalgic for our time in Italy. The last time I watched the World Cup it was at a BBQ outside of a villa-turned-apartments with my friend Giulia and her friends. My living room in not quite as memorable.

This Funfetti cake bakeoff is exactly what I need. I get overwhelmed by the shear number of recipes out there and love how analytically she presents her findings.

Lemon cake is definitely one of my top favorite cake flavors and this looks like the perfect recipe.

It feels kind of silly to be looking at fall clothes when I know it will be 90°F + for many months still, but last fall/winter I really wanted some water proof booties and these are exactly what I was looking for.

These broccoli fritters are pretty similar to veggoe tots I make for my son but honestly look much easier to make. He refuses all green foods at the moment, I’ll have to try these.

This looks like my dream coconut cake.

I recently bought a new console table for our living room and I kind of hate it, and am leaning more towards something like this table. 

This and That

Guys this week went by really quickly and I don’t know what to do with myself. Time to share what I have been into this week!

^^^ The picture above is of the flowers that lined my neighbor’s driveway in Italy.  They were always so big and  beautiful. I am currently redoing the beds in our front and backyards and would LOVE big hydrangeas like these. I’ve kept my basil plant alive for almost two months now so obviously I’m ready for a massive yard transformation.

 

  • I bought this nail polish last summer and got compliments every time I wore it. Purples make my hands look dead so this is the coolest hue I can wear. I’ve already busted it out and am wearing it as I type this.
  • My two favorite adult beverages combined into one big batch drink!
  • The humidity has really taken a toll on my hair and hair oil helps keep the frizz at bay and makes my hair feel really soft. Plus you can’t beat the price!
  • Flexibility has never been my strongsuit and the combo of a lifetime of sports+desk job+child birth have left me quite immobile, shoulders all impinged and hips out of whack. I’ve been doing Yoga with Adriene and it is really helping me work out the kinks. Plus, Adriene makes yoga really approachable. Like “Hey, you cant do this pose yet? That’s cool, you’ll get there, try this pose instead”.
  • Do you like rose’? I haven’t had any I really enjoyed and am going to try some from this list.

How has your week been? Let me know down below!

(As usual, none of this is sponsored nor are they affiliate links, just things I love and want to share with you!)

 

Pasticco

I really wanted to name this blog post Des-Pasticco. Like the song Despacito. The original version by Luis Fonsi was all over the radio before we left Italy. When I arrived here and heard the version by Justin Bieber I was all kinds of confused.  Dad jokes aside, let’s get back to Pasticco.

Pasticco is basically lasagna, just not the version we typically expect in America. There is no mozzarella, no ricotta, and no tomato sauce. The pasta does not feature the familiar ruffle on the edge (I’ll link the one I used below), and this version does not have any beef, though veal is commonly used. It is worth noting that I also saw this dish referred to as lasagna al forno, pasta al forno, and other iterations throughout Italy. For the most part in our region, it was commonly called pasticco.

I originally asked my neigbor Giulia how Pasticco is made. She outlined the ingredients for me. Start with sofrito, the Italian word for the classic combination of carrots, onions and celery, in olive oil. Add Pancetta and other meats. A little white wine. Some milk. This is your ragu. Make basciamella (in the US this classic white sauce is called a bechemel) with butter, flour, milk and nutmeg. Layer with pasta and bake.

Armed with Giulia’s ingredient list, I searched the Internet for recipe. I found a few that used the ingredients Giulia mentioned and cobbled together my own recipe from there.

I find this recipe is easier to make that than your average American lasagna. Or at least faster because this sauce doesn’t need to simmer all day. Though the ragu’ recipe typically calls for pancetta, I was only able to find prosciutto locally.  Though pancetta and prosciutto  are not the same, the prosciutto worked out. If you aren’t able to source either in your area, you could give bacon a try. I would dice it and when you start your ragu’ do not fry the bacon until crisp, just render the fat a little bit. If you do this, please let me know how it works out!

This is easily my husband’s favorite dish from our time in Italy, he often ordered two servings when we went out to dinner. Now back stateside, this is also a meal my toddler eats with gusto. It has become a regular in our weekly rotation, and I think the next time I will make a double batch, because it freezes really well.

Forget what you think you know about lasagna, and give Pasticco a try! You will not be disappointed.

Pasticco

  • Servings: 6-8 depending on how large you slice it.
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Ingredients

Ragu

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 yellow or white onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced (or 1 teaspoon pre-chopped garlic from a jar, I like both)
  • 4 ounces pancetta (or prosciutto) diced
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable,whichever you have on hand)
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • salt
  • black pepper

Basciamella

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups milk (I used whole milk)
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • a few shakes of nutmeg (It is recommended you freshly grind your own, I used the pre-ground nutmeg, I already had it in my pantry. One day I will be the kind of person that grinds their own spices, but today is not that day.)

Pasticco

  • Ragu’
  • Basciamella
  • Lasagna noodles   
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for grating (I have found my local grocery stores carry both chunks and pre-grated versions for sale. Just please do not use the kind that comes in a can in the pasta aisle! Treat yo’self.)

 

Directions

Preheat your oven to 375°F.  In a large pot or dutch oven, warm your butter and olive oil over medium/high heat. Once the butter has melted, through in your garlic, carrots, celery, and onions, and pancetta/prosciutto. Saute’ until your veggies are translucent and the fat has begun to render out. Add your ground pork and cook through. Add your white wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to get all of the tasty bits from the bottom of the pot. Add your tomato paste, milk, bay leaves and chicken broth. Stir to combine, then turn the heat down to low and let your sauce simmer for 1.5 to 2 hours.

When you are ready to prepare your pasticco, make your basciamella. In a large pan, melt 5 tablespoons of butter. Once melted, whisk in your flour. Cook for a few minutes, until your flour/butter mixture (roux) is a golden brown. Gradually begin to add your milk, whisking to combine. If you add your milk too quickly, your basciamella will not be thick, so go slowly! It is way easier to thin, than thicken. Once you have added all of your  milk, add nutmeg, salt and pepper , to taste.

Assembly.

The noodles I used did not require me to boil them before making my pasticco. If you use wavy lasagna noodles, please follow your package directions for noodle prep, then follow the directions below. If you use homemade noodles, follow the directions below.

In a 9×13 pan, spread a thin layer of ragu’ on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle some parmiagiano-reggiano. On top of that, lay three sheets of pasta. (Or follow your package directions). It is okay if the pasta does not touch the sides of the pan. As it cooks, it will expand. On top of the pasta, add a layer of bascimella, then cheese, and repeat. I had three layers of pasta, topped with a layer of basciamella and cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 45-60 minutes (or however long your pasta suggests). For the last 10 minutes, I removed the aluminum foil to allow the top to brown.

Enjoy!

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