I am easily influenced in the kitchen by things that inspire me during my daily life. Today, I finished the book Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Since this isn’t a book review blog, I am refraining from telling you about my experience with it, but I will say I couldn’t get the idea of a really amazing pizza out of my mind since the author practically had an orgasm over the pizza she ate in Naples.
I had to go by the grocery store anyway for some basic necessities and decided to pick up some already made pizza dough in the bakery, along with tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil. If I had the time to make dough that would have been cheaper and probably better, but let’s be realistic, it takes at least an hour and a half and I didn’t have that kind of time today. I just wanted to feed my family something “fresh” and full of flavor.
I looked up some recipes and sort of based mine off of Tyler Florence’s Margherita Pizza from the Food Network. The recipe called for a can of peeled, crushed tomatoes. Now, why would anyone choose canned anything when you have something fresh in front of you? So, I peeled the tomatoes myself with a pairing knife while my toddler danced, climbed, and pushed my legs in his bid for attention. I combined the two fresh, peeled (sort of) tomatoes in the food processor with four cloves of garlic. I always keep fresh garlic in a dish on my counter. The resulting puree did not look appetizing to me, but I proceeded to put it in a small pot on the stove under medium heat for about ten minutes, adding a teaspoon of dried thyme, a teaspoon of dried oregano, several grinds of sea salt and black pepper and a small pour of olive oil. Stirring often, it finally started to cook down into an aromatic sauce.
Meanwhile, I sliced the mozzarella, tore a few basil leaves, and got to work on the dough. I covered a cookie sheet with foil. Alas, I do not have a pizza stone, a noted addition to my kitchen wish list. I oiled up the foil and my husband volunteered to punch, stretch, and roll the dough down as thin as he could.
After about 10 minutes of the sauce cooking, I had lowered the temperature down to simmer and just let it come together. I probably had it on simmer for about 10-15 minutes. I still thought the sauce looked too thin, so I strained it. The strainer held a cross between salsa and bruschetta topping. I spread it on the pizza dough as best I could, added the mozzarella slices and fresh basil. It looked and smelled so good already! I slid it into a 450 oven for about 15-16 minutes.
The end product was not the orgasmic pizza I envision awaits me someday in Naples, but it was a darn good pizza. It fed the three of us well, especially with some leftover salad from last night’s grilled steak and potatoes. With a crispy crust, doughy center, oozing cheese, and lots of flavor, it was a grand hit. I plan to do some study on pizza dough and better baking techniques and will keep you all updated with what I learn. I’m sure we’ll call out for pizza in a pinch, but I’m also very happy to take some fresh, ingredients and create my own take on this classic!