It's the simplest of all pizzas, and to a "pizza purist" like me, one of the most delicious: Pizza Margherita. Crust, a touch of sauce, slices of mozzarella cheese, sliced tomatoes, basil leaves. Run it into a hot oven (450 F or better) for about 15 minutes, and you've got eight slices of paradise awaiting you.
Once upon a time, I could only make a decent Pizza Margherita in the late summer, when the basil plants were full and leafy and garden tomatoes hung red and ripe on the vine. But now, with beautiful fresh basil available year-round at the local produce store and perfectly-ripe Sunset brand tomatoes by Mastronardi Produce in supermarkets, I can make one anytime. The stars of this performance are the delicious fresh tomatoes and basil, and that leaves room for a few shortcuts (like using a prepared pizza shell or sauce from a jar.)
- Make your pizza dough, rolling it out as desired, or start with a premade shell.
- Spread the shell thinly with a good, flavorful marinara sauce.
- Sprinkle very lightly with grated Romano cheese.
- Arrange thickly sliced pieces of mozzarella cheese, sliced ripe tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves over the grated cheese. Be generous.
- Bake in a hot oven - 450 F - for 15 minutes or so, just enough to turn the cheese bubbly and toast the crust.
- Remove from the oven, slice, and enjoy.