27 May 2007

Basil & Three-Cheese Thin-Crust Pizza

Three-Cheese Thin Crust Pizza
When the tomato was introduced to Europe in the 16th century, it was believed by many Europeans to be poisonous because it is a member of the nightshade family. However, by the late 18th century it was common for the poor in the area around Naples to add tomato to their yeast-based flat bread, and so, pizza was born!! The dish became a tourist attraction where visitors ventured into the poorer areas of the city to try the local specialty where it was sold from open-air stands and street vendors. The world's first true pizzeria, Antica Pizzeria Port' Alba opened in Naples in 1830 and still serves pizza from the same premises today. This recipe is inspired by the original Margherita pizza from Naples, Italy with a spicy red sauce, ricotta and mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkling of fresh basil. Use a gentle hand while rolling this thin crust. If the dough tears, just gather it into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 10 minutes before re-rolling. Place the dough in the refrigerator for its' first rising to ensure the crust stays thin.

**Basil and Three-Cheese Thin-Crust Pizza**


1 teaspoon honey
1-1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100 - 110)
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 5-1.2 oz), divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
cooking spray
2 tablespoon stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1-1/2 teaspoon olive oil
 Spicy Pizza Sauce (recipe to follow)
3/4 cup (3 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh Parmesan
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

To prepare dough, dissolve honey and yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1 cup flour and salt to yeast mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes); add enough of the remaining flour, 1 T at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky). Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Position one oven rack in the middle setting. Position another rack in the lowest setting, and place a rimless baking sheet on the bottom rack. Preheat oven to 500F.

Roll dough into a 13-inch circle (about 1/4-inch) thick on a lightly floured surface. Place dough on a rimless baking sheet with cornmeal. Crimp edges of dough with fingers to form a rim. Brush oil all over dough. Remove preheated baking sheet from oven; close oven door. Slide dough onto preheated baking sheet, using a spatula as a guide. Bake on lowest oven rack at 500F for 5 minutes. Remove from oven.

Spread Spicy Pizza Sauce in an even layer over crust, leaving a 1/4-inch border. Combine mozzarella and ricotta; sprinkle evenly over sauce. Top with Parmesan. Bake on middle rack an additional 10 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese melts. Sprinkle with basil. Cut into 8 wedges.

Serves 4

**Spicy Pizza Sauce**
cooking spray
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add garlic to pan; saute 30 seconds. Stir in wine; cook 30 seconds. Add tomato paste, oregano, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and tomatoes. Reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar. Cool.

Makes 1-1/3 cups

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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