Here is something my Mom, Greg and I all have in common…we love Pizza. And pizza in Italy is the best! Pizza originated in Italy and they have continued to perfect the art ever since. When my Mom was in town we decided to make our own versions of our favorite pizza’s at home. We had so much fun and Julia even got in on the action.
|Rolling out her dough|
When I told my uncle our plan to try to duplicate our favorite pizza’s at home he gave us a brief history lesson on the pizza. As it turns out, pizza started as a flatbread consumed by many people in Europe. In 16th century this was a common meal sold on the streets to the poor throughout Naples. It was an inexpensive dish that offered many different types of toppings. Credit for the first Margherita pizza is given to pizza maker Raffaele Esposito of Naples. The story is that in June of 1889 to honor the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, he created a “Pizza Margherita” for the Queen (I had to get that from Wiki – History of Pizza) . This pizza consisted of tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil to represent the colors of the Italian flag. Thank you Raffaele! Today people around the world enjoy this simple but delicious pizza.
|Our own Pizza Margherita|
After our history lesson we were ready to prepare dinner. On the menu were our three favorite dishes. Diane’s favorite, Pizza Margarita; Greg’s, a Napoli Pizza; and my go to, Quattro Formaggi (four cheese).
We wanted dinner to be “easy” so we opted for store bought pizza dough. We will try making the dough another day. We also don’t have any fancy pizza stones or brick ovens here but we managed to create a crispy crust and pretty darn good pizza. Here is what we did:
All of the pizza’s started off with the same crust. Coat the baking pan with a little bit of olive oil so that the dough doesn’t stick. Instead of rolling out the dough we used our hands to stretch it and work it into a circle for the baking sheet. Once on the baking sheet we used a fork to poke a few holes in the dough (to prevent bubbles). Next we drizzled some olive oil and added some sea salt. Below is how to make the different types of pizza.
|Drizzle olive oil on the dough|
For the sauce use a can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes. Simple is always best! Next you need to add slices of mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. Or, you can also choose to add the basil to the pizza after it comes out of the oven. It’s totally up to you! Either way you end up with a beautiful red, white and green pizza.
|Crushed tomatoes as the sauce|
|Next, add your toppings|
Again, for the sauce simply use a can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes. Next, add slices of mozzarella, provolone and grated parmigiano reggiano cheese. What makes this a Napoli Pizza is adding acciughe(anchovies) as the final step. Feel comfortable to arrange them in any pattern you like.
|The acciughe (anchovies) – Greg’s favorite|
Pizza Quattro Formaggi
There is no need for sauce when making this pizza. Since the pizza is a four cheese, it does not need any sauce as a base. Instead, use some olive oil and crushed garlic on the dough. Our four cheese pizza consisted of mozzarella, provolone, grated parmigiano reggiano and gorgonzola cheese. Feel free to substitute any or all of the cheeses for your favorite (and if you’re feeling really crazy, make it a five or even six cheese pizza!).
|Give spacing for your gorgonzola – it will melt over a large surface|
All three pizza’s will cook in under 10 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit. The trick is to watch the pizza and look for the crust to brown and the cheese to start to bubble. Once the crust is crispy enough to transfer, remove the pizza from the baking sheet and finish cooking it directly on the oven rack. This will give it a crispy crust without the brick oven. When you remove the pizza’s allow the cheese to cool for a few minutes before you cut and serve.
|Julia and her Nonna|
|Jen and her Mom|
|Julia “rolling” on her own!|
I hope you enjoy making pizza at your home. You can try these or invent one of your own with your favorite toppings.