Margherita toppings of tomatoes, basil and mozarella are a favorite and were devised for a special feast of Queen Margherita to show off the colors of the Italian flag, but you can also try the three signature ingredients of Campanian cuisine–cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, anchovy filets, salteed caters, black olives, oregano and olive oil, for another variation on these easy to make, home-made pizzas.  However, sometimes we just go for plain old pepperoni as shown in this photograph.  This is a very easy family favorite.

You can make the dough up to 24 hours before you need it, or shape the dough rounds and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.  It needs at least 2-24 hours to set in the fridge before using.

For the Dough:

1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 (1/4-oz.) envelope or 2 and 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons honey
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Vegetable cooking spray

1  Process first 4 ingredients in a food processor 20 seconds or until yeast is dissolved and mixture is bubbly. Add flour and salt; pulse 6 to 8 times or until dough forms a ball and leaves sides of bowl, adding more water if necessary.
2. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray; lightly coat dough with cooking spray. Cover and chill at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
3. Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 2 equal portions; roll each portion into an 16-inch round.

Feel free to add your favorite toppings, or try this classic:

Margherita Topping:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced
  • 1 sprig parsley, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1-1/2 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 3 ounces fresh mozzarella (in liquid), thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper and salt

Margherita Topping:

1. In a 10-inch skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high. Sauté onion and parsley to golden, then stir in garlic and oregano for a few seconds. Add tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pan (do not substitute crushed tomatoes). Boil, stirring, 5 minutes or until thick.

2. Spread sauce over rolled out crust, sprinkle with basil, mozzarella, and finally the oil. Finish with generous black pepper and a little salt. Bake as directed above.

Variation: In Naples, fresh or canned tomatoes often replace tomato sauce on pizza. Make sure tomatoes have big, rich flavor and use them judiciously.

More Variations: Sparingly is the operative word here. Use any of the following flavorings, but only enough to flavor, not overwhelm: Sliced red onion, pitted olives, pepperoni, anchovy, sliced mushrooms, steamed broccoli or cauliflower, salami, prosciutto, roasted peppers, shrimp, cooked Italian sausage, hot pepper, fresh herbs such as marjoram, oregano, mint, garlic, rosemary, or sage. Step from Italian to American pizza and let your imagination fly – Tandoori marinated chicken breasts, oven roasted vegetables, salsa, the BLT, and more.

Assembling the Pizza

To make pizza, lightly oil a 14- to 16-inch pizza pan. Preheat oven to 500 degrees, setting rack as low as possible in oven. Roll out dough as thin as possible to about a 16-inch round (no more than 1/16-inch thick). Spread over pan, rolling in edges to form a rim. Let rest 10 minutes. Top as desired or suggested below and bake 10 minutes. Then using a spatula and thick oven mitt, slip the pizza off the pan directly onto the oven rack by pulling out rack, grasping pizza pan firmly with protected hand, and using spatula or pancake turner to slip pie off pan and onto rack. Slide rack back in place and bake 2 minutes. Slip pie back onto pan, remove from oven. Cut and serve.