Wednesday, August 11, 2010

margherita & friends: we don't need no stinkin' 30 minutes!

     Dinner in 15, woo hoo! Recently, my favorite food store, Publix, was the inspiration for a fresh, healthy, budget dinner. Their fabulous, bakery-made pizza dough was on sale for a mere $1.79! I bought several and placed all but one in the freezer. I added a few ingredients, most of which I had in the house or yard and dinner was served!
The History of Margherita Pizza:  A Culinary Tale
     In the late 1800's, the wife of King Umberto I of Italy was named Queen Margherita. On touring the Italian countryside with her husband, she observed the peasants dining on thin, flat bread that had been rubbed with olive oil and spices and baked in stone ovens. She was so enamoured by this treat, she could not forget it.
     To honor the queen, who was so beloved by her subjects, Chef Rafaelle Esposito decided to make a very special pizza just for her. He baked a pizza topped with fresh, ripe tomatoes, mozarella cheese, and fresh basil, to represent the colors of the Italian flag: red, white, and green.
     This became Queen Margherita's favorite pizza and when word got out that this 'peasant food' was one of the queen's favorites, she became even more popular with the Italian people. She also started a culinary tradition, Pizza Margherita, which lasts to this very day in Naples and has now spread in popularity throughout the world.
     Here is my version, made by me, the queen of my own castle (haha) and designed for my tastes. I am a huge fan of mushrooms and garlic. (They are the friends.) You can add or delete things to make your taste buds happy.
     If you are a man, reading this note and think to yourself, "Where's the MEAT?," just deal with it or add a very small amount of cooked meat to your healthy green salad that you KNOW you should be eating. And remember what we have learned so far... NO iceberg lettuce!
Ingredients
one pizza crust
olive oil
8 oz. baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
red pepper flakes, optional
2 large, thinly sliced tomatoes
fresh mozzarella pearls
basil leaves
garlic powder, for crust
several pinches of kosher salt
lots of freshly ground, black pepper
Directions
Oil pizza pan. place dough on pan, drizzling oil over. Coat clean hands with olive oil, rubbing all over dough and stretching it until thin. Be careful not to puncture or tear the dough. Place on pan to rest. Sprinkle edges w/ garlic powder, if desired.
While you are working with the dough, saute the mushrooms, red pepper flakes and garlic in a tiny amount of olive oil. You decide how much red pepper is enough. I usually use about 1/4 t. or a little less. Salt and pepper it a little. Place the tomatoes close together on dough. salt and pepper lightly. Arrange mushroom mixture over tomatoes and top w/ basil and the mozzarella pearls. Hit it one more time with a pinch of salt and generous amount of freshly ground, black pepper.
Bake for 10 minutes in a 450 degree oven. If you have a pizza stone, spray sides of oven w/ plain water in a spray bottle before closing oven door. The steam will help dough to rise a little more and become crispy.
Remove from oven, dot with a bit of olive oil. Cool and enjoy with a crisp, green salad for a fast, healthy meal.

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