Intro: Quick and Easy Margherita Pizza
One of my favorite summertime meals is this easy to make Margherita pizza. It can be made in just over 20 minutes once you've done it a few times and, with a backyard garden, can be made cheaply and organically.
Step 1: Is It Getting Hot in Here or Is It Just Your Oven?
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F (or 232 C if you live just about anywhere in the world besides America).
Gather your tools and ingredients. You will need the following:
1Medium sized tomato
6-8 Fresh basil leaves
1 hunk of mozzarella cheese (or you could buy the preshredded, you'll need at least 3/4cup but I suggest a full cup)
1 12" pizza crust (I wimp out and buy the premade kind)
2 to 21/2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for a little more flavor try infusing your oil with something like garlic or basil)
White pepper (no set amount, I never use the same amount twice)
1 cutting board
1 vegetable knife
1 pizza cutter
1 cheese grater (only if you have a hunk of cheese, not store bought preshredded)
1 Oven (duh)
Step 2: Lube Job
Next we need to make sure that our dough cooks correctly by adding some olive oil to the surface of the crust. This will also add a bit of flavor to the medley (more or less flavor depending on whether or not you've infused your olive oil with any herbs or spices). Pour anywhere from 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons of your oil onto the crust. Spread evenly with the back of a spoon, a basting brush, or use my favorite method: your hand.
Step 3: Secret Ingredient (Hint: It's Not Really Secret)
One thing that remains a tradition in the Chandler family is using White Pepper over the standard black pepper or peppercorn melange you see most often. It just tastes better people! I'd recommend using whole peppercorns and grinding them out yourself for full flavor, but the canned stuff will work as well. I will typically put 3 to 4 full twists of the grinder onto the crust for a nice zip that is oddly subtle (for pepper).
Step 4: It Slices! It Dices! Part I
Take your rinsed tomato (I shouldn't have to tell you to rinse your produce) and slice it into your preferred thickness. I usually don't go super thick and I've found that if you make them too thin they will scorch VERY easily. Place your slices on the crust. On a 12"crust I usually will get about six slices on board.
Step 5: It Slices! It Dices! Part II
Now it's time to chop up the basil. Other, more culinarily astute people, will say things like, "Cut your basil into Julienne strips." I say stack three or four of your (rinsed, c'mon use common sense!) basil leaves and cut them three or four times horizontally. Pile up the resultant pieces and run your knife through them a few times in a few different directions. That will get you an easily spreadable pile of basil.
Step 6: CHEESE IT, THE COPS ARE HERE!
Now the best part: CHEESE! I cannot stress enough to you how much better your final product will turn out if you part with a few extra pennies and buy a ball of (sort of) fresh mozzarella. In the end the shredded stuff will turn out fine, save you a step, and cost a little less but your tastebuds will love you for going the extra mile. If you went the fresh(er) route and got a hunk of cheese, now is the time to grate it. Grate to taste, but I'd suggest at least 1/2 a cup just to pull things together. You'll get better results from about 3/4 of a cup and if you want to add lots of flavor and don't care about a small amount of extra calories, throw on a whole cup.
Step 7: Now We Play the Waiting Game...
Place the prepared pizza into your preheated oven for 7 to 8 minutes (or whenever the cheese looks good to you). If you want a slightly softer crust, use a pizza stone in the oven, but if you're a real person and like your crust more towards the crispy side just throw that bad boy right on the middle rack. While you're waiting check out this instructable. I've attached a picture of it just because I think it's cool.
Step 8: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!
Your Quick, Easy, Cheap, Delicious, Healthy, Awesome Margherita pizza is done! Enjoy it with some friends on the patio or plop down in front of the couch with your significant other for the latest DVD from your Netflix queue, this is the perfect meal for sharing. I like it with some ice cold sweet tea and a little bit of pasta salad.