Naples, Capri, Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast...Campagna is arguably one of the most exotic and interesting regions in Italy. It is one of the regions that I didn't get a chance to visit while in Italy, and so will likely be one of my first stops when I get back!
As we all know, one of the quintessential Italian foods is pizza. Naples and the region of Campagna are the epicenter of the pizza making culture within "the boot." Possibly the most classic pizza from the Naples area is the Margherita pizza. This pizza was named after Queen Margherita, who was married to King Umberto I, who reigned in the late 1800's. The toppings involve a layer of sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes and slices of fresh mozzarella and basil leaves scattered about and cooked to perfection. However, I found that in many other area of Italy, the term Margherita was used to describe plain cheese pizza, even if it lacked basil leaves or if it traded in the haphazard placement of slices of mozzarella for a single, full covering of cheese.
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse, Food Network
-Makes 1 pizza-
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 to 1 garlic clove, chopped
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into slices
10-12 fresh basil leaves
- Begin by making the dough. In a large bowl, combine the yeast, water, 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, and salt. Stir well for 5 minutes.
- Add half of the flour to the mixture. Combine thoroughly. Add the remaining flour, except for 1/2 a cup. Mix well with hands.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour as needed if the dough is sticky.
- When the dough is smooth and no longer sticky, put into a lightly oiled bowl. Turn it over so that it is covered in oil. Place a moist towel over the dough and set aside until it doubles in size, about 1 hour. Transfer to a baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let sit 15 minutes. *
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
- Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Spread it out on a pizza tray or stone in the desired shape.
- Put the tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and garlic in a food processor. Grind until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread the sauce over the pizza dough.
- Scatter the mozzarella over the sauce. Add the basil to the pizza as well.
- Bake for about 8 minutes.
* If you like thinner crust, or would like a smaller pizza, you can make 2 pizza crusts by dividing the dough into two balls before transferring to a baking sheet. Let sit for 15 minutes and then form as directed.
Ryan's rating of Margherita Pizza - 5.