This one is Charlie inspired. He saw some folks cooking up a margherita pizza on one of the daytime talk shows with fresh basil, mozzarella and tomato sauce and suggested I give it a go. I had plenty of fresh basil and pizza dough waiting in the fridge and I didn’t have a plan for dinner. So I came up with my own version of the margherita, adding a few tasty toppings and I think it turned out great!
I love margherita pizza. I always choose it when I walk up to a pizza counter that serves pizza by the slice. That’s how I rate a pizza place because it’s such a classic. I figure if they can do that one well, then I can be adventurous the next time and try the rest of the fare.
According to legend, the margherita pizza was named after one of Italy’s queens and the colors represent the Italian flag. The red, white and green are represented by the tomatoes, the mozzarella and the fresh basil. A traditional margherita pizza consists of those 3 main ingredients only. And that simple combination adds up to a taste that is so fresh and uncluttered.
I wanted to keep that simplicity, but spice it up just a bit. So I toasted some garlic cloves, chopped them up and added them to the sauce along with a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. I like cheese and basil in every bite, so instead of laying out whole leaves of basil and whole slices of the mozzarella ball, I chopped them both up and sprinkled generously on the top. And to make it a little more complete, I added a pan fried chicken breast for extra protein.
This is a very simple, easy to put together meal that doesn’t require a lot of ingredients and I usually always have pizza dough in the fridge. I’ve tried a lot of pizza dough, including the pre-made ones, but one good thing about Pillsbury’s brand in the can is that you can roll it out to the thickness you like. I tend to like my dough on the thinner side, but every now and then, I get a hankering for a little more bread. And if homemade dough is the way you go, that’s great too! In keeping with tradition, I used tomato sauce instead of pizza sauce. That way I got a purer tomato taste versus the added sweeteners and spices that are typically in store bought pizza sauces. I used canned tomato sauce, but you can always make your own sauce with a little olive oil, tomatoes and salt to taste.
Charlie and I both loved the finished product. Whether you stick to tradition or make it your own by adding a few different toppings, margherita pizza is a classic you can never go wrong with. We sat on the deck last night and ate a whole pizza, in the Tennessee heat, with the Tennessee bugs all around and two Tennessee canine food critics, waiting to give it their taste test. It passed…they like everything I cook 🙂
- 1 can Pillsbury pizza dough ( or dough of your choice-about 12-14 ounces)
- 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce (I like Red Gold or use homemade to equal 10 ounces)
- 2 garlic cloves, ends removed but skin on
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (may use more or less to taste)
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese ball, chopped
- 1/4 cup course chopped, fresh basil
- 1 chicken breast
- Olive oil for sautéing
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- In a medium skillet, add about a teaspoon of olive oil and saute whole garlic cloves for a few minutes on each side until lightly brown. Remove and allow to cool.
- To same skillet, add a bit more olive oil and allow to heat. Salt and pepper each side of chicken breast to taste and cook in the skillet until done. Set aside when done to cool.
- Preheat oven to appropriate temperature per dough directions. Roll out dough according to directions on a baking sheet.
- Pour 2/3 can of tomato sauce onto dough and spread evenly around to about 1/2 inch from the edge of dough. Refrigerate remaining sauce.
- Remove skin from cooled garlic cloves, mince and sprinkle evenly onto sauce.
- Sprinkle red pepper flakes evenly onto sauce.
- Drop mozzarella cheese evenly onto sauce as well and follow with chopped basil.
- Chop chicken breast and sprinkle on top of the other ingredients.
- Bake according to dough instructions and serve hot.
- Browning the garlic brings out the flavor. You can also use pre minced garlic in a jar and saute in the skillet per the instructions. I used a 16 ounce mozzarella ball and cut it in half. I like the flavor and freshness of that better than pre-grated, bagged mozzarella cheese.