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:
- A 3mm thick disk of dough with a 1-2cm high crust
- No other working tools other than the hands of the pizza maker are allowed, no rolling pin or mechanical press machine
- 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!
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!!
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.