Homemade margherita pizza is one of my favorite meals, with a fresh green salad and a glass (or two!) of Chianti Classico Coltibuono. Consistent with the theme of taking care of mind, body and soul, and integrating food and drink into a holistic, healthy way of being, I like to know what I put in my body. So I start with fresh, natural ingredients (if possible organic), make everything from scratch (not processed or pre-made), and use cooking tools and methods that are safe and do not introduce chemicals or other unhealthy substances into the food.
The recipe and instructions below have been adapted over many years. I’m not a professional chef, rather I’m self-taught, and my objective is to share my experiences with food and drink, rather than pretend to teach how to make a margherita pizza.
Recommended Wine Pairing
I like to pair wines with food that meet several criteria: 1) I must like and enjoy the wine (and it doesn’t matter if Robert Parker agrees or disagrees), 2) the wine should be an expression of the terroir, grape variety and winemakers craft, 3) I should be able to afford a case instead of just a single bottle, there are so many values in the $20-$30 range, and 4) often a wine from the same country or region as the food will go best (everything else being equal). One of my go-to wines with margherita pizza is the Chianti Classico Badia a Coltibuono for $20. It’s made from organic grapes. A tremendous nose, mouthfeel and complements the pizza flavors.
Pizza Dough Ingredients
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (King Arthur)
1 packet dry yeast
6-8 oz water
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp virgin olive oil
Pizza Preparation and Serving
Pour flour into large mixing bowl. Combine yeast with about 1/2 portion warm water, stir to dissolve, and add to flour. Mix flour and yeast until fully absorbed. Use bread hook in Kitchenaid mixer, or hand mix in bowl. Add salt and olive oil. Continue mixing. Add remaining water until dough has a smooth, soft, elastic consistency. Do not add too much water so dough becomes too sticky. Fold dough from outside to inside, creating air pockets that will help the dough rise. Form a round shape, and cover dough with a cloth and let rise in warm place.
Slice the mozzarella log into thin slices. Remove stems from fresh basil. Pre-heat oven to 425 F.
Roll out the dough on flat surface that is lightly covered in flour to prevent the dough from sticking, until 1/8 to 3/16 inch thick. Lay the rolled dough on a 16 inch, round pizza baking sheet (non-stick or slightly greased), and roll the edges to prevent the topping from spilling.
Spread the sauce evenly across the dough, add the mozzarella and top with basil leaves. Sprinkle leaves with a little olive oil to prevent from burning in oven.
Bake on lowest oven rack (bottom heat) for about 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and dough is baked. Cut with pizza wheel and serve warm with a side salad. Enjoy with a glass of wine.
1 mozzarella log (16 oz)
Fresh basil (1 large package)
Sauce (see below)
Several cloves fresh garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp virgin olive oil
1 can (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes (organic)
Salt, black pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp white sugar
Peel and chop garlic cloves, cook in large sauce pan (I use cast iron or stainless steel pans) in olive oil using medium heat until yellow, flip and do not burn.
Add tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, and sugar. Bring to boil on high heat, stir, reduce to simmer and cover. Let cook until sauce thickens to almost puree consistency.