A New Take on an Old Favorite

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I can’t stop talking about the bountiful, beautiful tomatoes we are getting from our garden right now and I know farmers markets are overflowing with them as well. So, at this time of year, I’m always looking for any way to use the tomatoes before they go bad. I’ve already shared with you our Easy Roasted Tomato Sauce recipe, which is one way to use up a lot of your tomatoes. Another way, that may not use a ton of tomatoes but is definitely a way to show off that prized fruit, is a Margherita pizza. One of the most popular pizzas in the world, the quintessential basil, tomatoes and mozzarella toppings are simple, yet delicious.

According to popular belief, Pizza Margherita was created during a visit by King Umberto I and his wife Queen Margherita of Savoy to Naples in 1889. Chef Raffaele Esposito created a pizza which resembled the Italian flag of green, white & red (basil, mozzarella & tomatoes) and named it after the Queen. Since 2009, Pizza Margherita is one of three Napoli pizzas with a STG label (Traditional Guaranteed Specialty). This labeling is similar to the DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) labels on some Italian food or the DOCG (Controlled Origin/Production and Guaranteed Quality Denomination) labels on Chianti and other Italian wines. To make a true, STG Pizza Margherita, there are certain specifications that must be met:

  1. A 3mm thick disk of dough with a 1-2cm high crust
  2. No other working tools other than the hands of the pizza maker are allowed, no rolling pin or mechanical press machine
  3. It needs to be cooked in a wood-fired brick oven at 485C for about 90 seconds.

That’s a nice thin crust, 3mm is only around 1/10th of an inch thick and the crust would be around 1/3 to a little over 2/3 of an inch. Also, can we talk about that heat! WOW!! 485C is around 905F. We don’t fire our wfo to that temp. As a general rule, the dome is usually around 500F and the floor is anywhere from 500-750F.

Of course, we are not as precise as those rules; however, the traditional toppings of basil, mozzarella and tomatoes are standard when making or ordering a Margherita pizza. That is until my wife decided to shake things up a bit and we found a new favorite way to make Pizza Margherita. The secret? Ricotta cheese!

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Add herbs, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to the ricotta, schmear it all over the crust, top with fresh sliced tomatoes, basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Then pop it into your wfo for a minute or two. The seasoned ricotta soaks up the watery tomato and the flavors all blend well together to make a truly tasty pizza!!

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We prefer to use fresh tomatoes whenever possible, but you could also use our tomato sauce or make a super simple sauce from a can of San Marzano tomatoes and a little salt. Now, I do realize this isn’t really Pizza Margherita since we didn’t use mozzarella, but I won’t tell if you won’t 🙂

Try it the next time you have fresh tomatoes…you won’t regret it.



Pizza Friday

Every week we have Pizza Friday, though now, it sometimes happens on Saturday or Sunday. Since we got our wood fired oven, we have a calendar and every weekend is booked with family and friends coming for pizza “Friday”. We love hosting and feeding everyone great food and everyone loves eating it!

This will be the first of many Pizza Friday posts as we highlight some of our creations and those with whom we shared them.

Let’s start last with last year and our first of many wfo Pizza Fridays.


This night we had a “make your own pizza” night. We provided several different meats, veggies and cheeses to choose from. We had capicola (a dry-cured salami), calabrese (a very spicy salami) and thinly sliced pepperoni. There was broccoli, asparagus and sauteed red bell peppers with onions and mushrooms. For cheese, we offered mozzarella, provolone and grated parmesan.

The first pizza we make each night is our “tester” pizza, which has become a tradition. It’s a simple, but oh so tasty, pie with drizzled olive oil, coarse salt and fresh rosemary. It is meant to test the temp of the oven floor to make sure it’s not too hot for baking. This has become a favorite pie for all of our family.

Next we let everyone create their own pies and made them pose for a picture with their creation!

12036869_10207525630529908_637915288799688256_nJamie had a pie with a little capicola, veggies and mozzarella

12038146_10207525631369929_1939915533582771802_nEllen had a veggie pizza with broccoli, provolone and parmesan

12049380_10207525630729913_5446446054962949568_nHazel had a combination pie on which she made three different sections. One with veggies, one with pepperoni and basil and one with just sauce and mozzarella

12038143_10207525631889942_6147054868581165221_nCarolyn made hers with calabrese, capicola, provolone and parmesan

12043120_10207525631209925_467597515420943216_nAnd finally, we had lil baby Sawyer, who enjoyed some sauce and cheese on his piece.

It was a great evening, the first firing of the oven went off without a hitch and thus begun our new Pizza Friday tradition.