Pizza Week: Tomato, Cheese, Fresh Basil -- The Perfect Classic

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Apparently Little Baby #3 is craving pizza something fierce, so I've decided to run with it and do a week-long feature of nothing but pizza!

Making my own pizza has grown out of necessity. We live on a beautiful property up here in Seattle, but so far out into the gorgeous woods that most pizza chains won't deliver to us. So, I've had to improvise and figure out how to make my own pizza the way I like it, and something relatively fast to rival the convenience of home delivered pizzas.

Three words people: Store-Bought Pizza Dough.

Ok, maybe that's 4 words. Whatever. The point is, you can stock up on your favorite store-bought pizza dough (my personal faves are from Whole Foods and Trader Joe's), freeze them (!), and home-made pizza is ready in literally 10-15 minutes for under $10 on top of it. Another trick: I use jarred marinara sauce for the pizza sauce. It's convenient, versatile  (leftover can whip up some pasta for the kids for lunch the next day), and tastes even more flavorful than pizza sauce. I always have shredded or fresh mozzarella cheese on hand as well, but this week I'll show you some tricks using other cheeses too.

First up is the classic Tomato-Cheese-Basil Pizza. It's the first, and the best. You can make it  using sliced fresh tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and good basil, or this version using the above super-easy and fast ingredients. This literally took me 10 minutes start to finish and is one of the faves for the kiddos.

Tomato-Cheese-Basil Pizza
1 store-bought pizza dough (makes one large pizza or 4 individual portions)
about 1/4 cup marinara sauce or pizza sauce (more if you like it saucier)
2 Tbsp chiffonade basil
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I like it cheesy; hold back if you like it with more sauce)

Preheat oven to 425. Preheat your pizza stone if using. If using baking sheets, spray with non-stick spray or use parchment paper.

If making one large pizza, stretch (don't roll!) the pizza dough into a large disk of your desired size and thickness. If  making 4 individuals, cut the dough into 4 equal parts and stretch out each into desired shape and thickness. Spoon the sauce on top, then sprinkle with the basil, and then top with the cheese. The basil goes underneath so it doesn't burn on top and infuses into the pizza. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until top is golden and bubbling. Cooking time will depend on the size of your pizzas and oven strength, so 10 minutes is an approximation. Start checking at 7 minutes.

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