I know, pizza is ubiquitous. Pizza can seem mundane.
But not if you do it right, like my friends over at Il Ritrovo, who have been certified by the Vera Pizza Napoletana Association as purveyors of authentic Neopolitan pizzas. (would you believe that three of the twenty-six certified pizzerias in the United States are located right here in Wisconsin?). Although they offer scads of delicious offerings, I most often choose the Margherita Classico for its utter simplicity and purity of flavor: basil, tomato, mozzarella, olive oil, crust.
Il Ritrovo's Gorgeous Pie
At home, I make pizza from scratch.
The crust is a recipe from an old Cooking Light:
1 1/4 c. warm water
1 packet yeast
Combine--let the yeast proof.
Add approx. 3 1/2 c. flour and 1 tsp. salt. Add the salt, and then the flour 1 cup at a time, until the dough is sticky but forms a rough ball. For crispier dough, work with the dough as sticky as you can handle it. Knead for 10 minutes, and then place in an oiled bowl. Let the dough rise in a warm spot in your kitchen. After about an hour it will be voluminous and ready.
I make a simple marinara in small amounts, but you can make a vat if you'd like. I'm not including amounts here--let taste be your guide.
Saute garlic in olive oil. Add canned crushed tomatoes, red pepper flakes, Italian herb mix (from Penzey's), a chunk of peeled carrot (to add sweetness), a glug of red wine. Simmer until it tastes delicious. Remove the carrot--I like to eat it:)
Roasted red and yellow peppers, caramelized onions, blanched broccoli, and kalamata olives is my favorite amalgamation. I use a combination of "Parm" and Mozzarella and sometimes Provolone (all Wisconsin, of course)
To assemble and bake:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
Coat a pizza pan with cornmeal, and then spread out your pizza dough into a round. I make individual pizzas--my crust recipe yields about five Dharmagirl sized pizzas. Prebake the crust for about 5 minutes, until just starting to puff up and the bottom just setting.
Remove the crust from the oven and cover with sauce and toppings. Return to oven and bake until cheeses are browning.
*for a crispy crust, bake the crust and pizza on the lowest rack of your oven, or, if you have enclosed heating elements, you can actually set the pan right on the bottom of the oven.**
Sometimes I top my pizza with arugula--it wilts nicely and adds a bit of astringency to all that richness.
a New Year's Eve Delight!