Margherita Pizza Recipe

Food of the Italian South with author Katie Parla

Thick-rimmed Neapolitan-style pizza has become synonymous with Italy, and it is arguably the country’s most famous export. In Naples, as elsewhere, this popular food is baked in a domed wood-burning oven, but this recipe has been adapted for your home oven so you can enjoy the chewy crust and elastic dough of pizza napoletana in your own home—though if you can, take a trip to Naples, specifically Pizzeria da Attilio, 50 Kalò, and La Notizia, for the real deal. Plan ahead to make this pizza, as the cold, slow rise in the refrigerator takes at least 20 hours. Recipes for a classic Margherita pizza inspired by Southern Italy are shown below.

Pizza topped with fresh basil.

The south’s most iconic pizza features cow’s-milk mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil.

  • Dough for 1 pizza crust (see below)
  • 3½ ounces canned whole tomatoes
  • Sea salt
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4½ ounces mozzarella, cut into ½-inch cubes, excess water squeezed out
  • 5 fresh basil leaves

Shape the dough as directed below.

Place the tomatoes in a medium bowl and blend with an immersion blender, or crush by hand, until they are broken down to a chunky puree. Season with salt, oregano, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

Spoon the tomato sauce over the pizza dough to the edge of the raised border, then distribute the mozzarella evenly. Bake as directed above.

Garnish with the basil leaves and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Neapolitan-Style Pizza Dough

IMPASTO per la PIZZA NAPOLETANA

Makes enough dough for four 12-inch pizzas

  • 590 grams (5 scant cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1¾ grams (½ rounded teaspoon) active dry yeast
  • 380 grams (about 1½ cups) cold filtered water
  • 12 grams (2 teaspoons) sea salt

Thick-rimmed Neapolitan-style pizza has become synonymous with Italy, and it is arguably the country’s most famous export. In Naples, as elsewhere, this popular food is baked in a domed wood-burning oven, but this recipe has been adapted for your home oven so you can enjoy the chewy crust and elastic dough of pizza napoletana in your own home—though if you can, take a trip to Naples, specifically Pizzeria da Attilio, 50 Kalò, and La Notizia, for the real deal. Plan ahead to make this pizza, as the cold, slow rise in the refrigerator takes at least 20 hours. Recipes for a classic Margherita pizza and three pizzas inspired by the south and its famed pizza makers follow.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, yeast, and cold water. Mix on the lowest speed until the dough just comes together and there is no more dry flour in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to hydrate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Return the bowl to the stand mixer and mix on medium-low speed. Add the salt and mix for 20 minutes more to build strength and until the dough is very smooth and elastic.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, shape it into a tight ball, and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at 39°F to 41°F for at least 20 hours and up to 30 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, allowing it to gently release from the bowl, and cut it into 4 equal pieces, weighing about 250 grams (9 ounces) each, with a dough scraper or knife.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, take the four corners and pull and fold them into the center to attach. Do not flatten. The dough will tighten up and take on a round shape. Flip the dough seam-side down. Place the palm of your hand on top of the ball, resting your thumb and pinkie against the sides and your other fingertips on the counter. Gently move the ball in circles, taking care to prevent any tears to create a tight, even ball. Repeat this process with the remaining dough pieces. Place the shaped dough balls on a greased baking sheet. Brush lightly with oil and cover the whole baking sheet with plastic wrap. Set aside at room temperature until the dough has nearly doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Forty-five minutes prior to baking, preheat the broiler to high and set an inverted baking sheet or a baking stone on the second to highest rack to preheat as well.

Place one dough ball on a well-floured surface, then sprinkle more flour on top. Starting in the center, work the dough into a small disc by pushing your fingers flat into the dough, leaving the edge untouched. Flip over the disc and continue until you have a round disc about 8 inches in diameter.

To stretch the dough to the desired size, drape it over the back of your hands and knuckles, fingers bent inward. Gently rotate the dough, stretching it little by little until it is around 12 inches in diameter.

Transfer the shaped dough to a pizza peel or a parchment paper–lined inverted baking sheet. Top as directed in the recipe that follows, and transfer the pizza to the preheated baking sheet or baking stone (see Note). Bake until the crust is lightly charred around the edges and the toppings are cooked, 4 to 6 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough balls, allowing the oven and the pizza stone or baking sheet to reheat for 10 to 15 minutes before baking the next pizza.

Serve immediately.

   Makes one 12-inch pizza
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Excerpt from Food of the Italian South, Katie Parla’s newest book featuring 85 authentic recipes and 100 stunning photographs that capture the cultural and cooking traditions of the Italian South, from the mountains to the coast. Visit https://katieparla.com/food-italian-south/ to order today!

Recipes reprinted from Food of the Italian South © 2019 by Katie Parla. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of the Crown Publishing/Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs by Ed Anderson.