Friday, July 30, 2010

Cherry Tomato Pizza Margherita...

You may think that our Friday Night Pizza this week, Cherry Tomato Pizza Margherita, looks a touch like that flatbread we made at the beginning of the month. However, looks are where the similarities stop - well, besides the fact we used a mess of heirloom tomatoes again, this time using those plump little cherry rounds.

We shaped our usual whole-wheat pizza dough into the same rectangle as the flatbread, though we went with the twelve-ounce version to give us a thinner crust. A pound of dough will work just fine, but I suggest you try to keep the end size the same, especially if you like a chewier bite! Because there will be ample toppings, once the dough was stretched out, we flipped about a half inch or so of the edges onto themselves, forming a thick containment rim all around. We used cornmeal on our work surface to keep the dough from sticking as we worked our mojo on it, but if you don't groove on the extra crunch, all-purpose flour does the job fine.

Unlike the beefy slices of raw tomato we used on that flatbread, these colorful gems were given a quick sauté in a hot skillet, with just enough olive oil to coat the bottom. You're not looking to cook them to death... just enough heat to give their skins a light char and rev up their juices. Scooped out into a bowl, the warm tomatoes were then hit with fresh garlic, crushed fennel seeds and pinch or two of crushed red pepper. I wanted them to retain most of their shape, so I didn't follow the original direction to smash the tomato balls to bits with a fork - do whichever you like, but I just liked the look of them better as is, rather than more of a "chunky sauce" consistency.

Two cheese were used - both mozzarella, one fresh (the kind packed in water) and the other of the whole-milk variety (low-moisture) that is much firmer. Both are diced and then jumbled around a bowl with chopped basil leaves to mingle the three together. With the cheese mixture scattered on the crust, the tomatoes are arranged over the cheese (if you mashed the tomatoes up, just spoon them on as evenly as you can), along with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Into the oven, we gave a range on the time it takes to bake as it depends on how much dough you use - if you go lighter with the weight, check early to see how it's browning. After it comes out, we reinforced the basil with a few small fresh leaves added on top just before we dug in. The crust on the dough was firm, but the tomato mixture still retains a fair amount of moisture, which doesn't make for a ton of crunchy crispness. Partially baking the dough for 4 to 6 minutes before tossing on your toppings would help move the crust to that texture.

While you wouldn't find fennel on a Margherita pizza that strives to stay authentic, Jeff and I both quite liked the unexpected punch the crushed seeds gave this rustic pie - don't be tempted to leave them off!


  1. Oh yummy! Any leftovers for breakfast?


  2. That is the most beautiful pizza I have ever seen.

  3. That looks amazing. Seriously amazing.

  4. Chris - One serving, which Jeff had before I got a say!

    Karen - Thanks!

    Foto - Thank you!