Pizzette Margherita

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It Started in Naples” with Sophia Loren

“In Napoli, where love is king, when boy meets girl, here’s what they say:
When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore”
Dean Martin, 1917 – 1995

Fast, ferocious, criminal and dirty. Passionate, affectionate and lively. Whatever you consider Naples to be – it is. All I see is the film It Started in Naples staring Sophia Loren and Clark Gable. The Neapolitano spirit is captured by Sophia’s character, Lucia, and I will always have her singing ‘Tu Vuo Fa L’Americano’ as the melody of this romance in my mind.

The recipe given here is for Pizzette Margherita named after Queen Margherita of Italy. The red of the tomatoes, the white of the cheese and the green of the basil leaves depict the Italian flag; a fitting tribute to my love for Italy.

Pizza Margherita

Makes 12
TOPPING: splash of olive oil * 395g (14oz) passata * 1 garlic clove, crushed * 395g (14oz) mozzerella, sliced * 125ml (4 floz) olive oil * 20 basil leaves * salt & freshly ground black pepper

DOUGH: 15g (½ oz) fresh yeast * 220ml (7 floz) lukewarm water * 510g (1lb 2oz) strong white flour * 3 tbsp olive oil * 1 tsp salt * ½ tsp sugar

To make the topping, heat up a splash of oil in a frying-pan and add in the passata and garlic clove. Fry off on a high heat to 2 minutes until hot and bubbling, then reduce to a simmer. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes, until it has reduced to a thicker sauce.

To make the dough, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water. Pile the flour up on a work surface in a volcano shape, make a well in the centre and add the oil, salt and sugar. Incorporate the yeast mixture, then knead the dough with your fingers and the palm of your hand until it has a silky, soft consistency. Rub a little oil around the inside of a bowl, put the dough in and dust with flour. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size. Once risen, knock back the dough and divide into 12 pieces. Knead each piece briefly and reshape it into a ball. Cover and leave to rise for 15 minutes.

To make the pizzetta, flatten each ball of dough a little with a rolling pin, then stretch it out with your fingertips to about 10cm/4 inches in diameter. Allow the dough to be slightly thicker at the edges. Place on oiled baking trays. Spread the sauce over the pizza bases, then distribute the mozzarella evenly over the top. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with the olive oil.

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Bake for about 8-10 minutes until nicely baked, then sprinkle the basil leaves and ground black pepper over them. Serve warm.

I have collated all my favourite recipes into one book FOOD FOR ALL OCCASIONS.

This recipe comes from the section THE ITALIAN JOB, a selection of authentic Italian recipes.


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