Pizza Margherita Experiment

July 22, 2012

I mentioned a problem earlier that I had looked at my expenses. That post had to do with my attempt at breaking my addiction to going to the nearby corporate coffee shop, which I still enjoy doing. I like to sit and watch the people there, aside from drinking the coffee. At the same time that I looked at how much I spend on coffee and covert people watching I looked at how much I spend a month on food and clearly I should weigh 458 pounds by now. The lesson from all of that is that I've been broke for the past 6 months and didn't realize it and that I will be broke until the 2nd week in November. I don't know how this works out, but I did a basic budget and that's what it tells me. This is assuming, of course, that I keep within my budget, which allows for much less money being spent on food.

I've been eating at home. Sandwiches, salads, chicken, sausage, rice, pasta... things that I have in the house already or don't cost that much. I do allow myself fresh vegetables. However, I've also felt the need to be more creative with my food because, while I buy good deli meat, sandwiches get old after a while.

I have a basil plant, so I did a search for things that I could do with it. The most popular was a pizza margherita. There a zillion different varieties of recipes so I read a few and decided to do something that would work for my home.

First is the crust. I'm not about to buy yeast and begin making bread. One of the ideas was to do something quick, so making a crust, though it would be immensely fulfilling, would be too involved at the moment. Maybe later. I decided to buy a crust, but when I got to the store a focaccia bread in the bakery caught my eye and it was about the same price, so I picked it up. Of course, it's almost universally understood that pizza margherita is supposed to use a very thin crust, but I'm not trying to be traditional here.

I wish, I WISH that I had had homegrown tomatoes. I picked up a vine-ripened tomato. I already had mozzarella cheese in the fridge. It's not the balls of fresh cheese, though that would have been even better. Again, we're thinking budget and I already had this ingredient.

So, I cut the bread in half. It was slightly over a foot long, and that's a bit much for one sitting. I brushed the half with olive oil – after drizzling it from my Jason Hooper hand-thrown ceramic olive oil bottle. I put very thinly sliced tomato, I put kosher salt and fresh ground pepper on the tomatoes, and added mozzarella sliced about 1/4 inch thick. I tore up pieces of basil, sprinkled it across the top, and drizzled the whole thing with more olive oil. Then I put it into on a cookie sheet into the oven, preheated at 400º. Almost all of the recipes called for 8 – 9 minutes, but this was done in 6.

Once I took it out of the oven, I added more fresh basil to the top.

Result: I would probably skip the basil before cooking; I think cooking it killed the flavor. Again, using home grown tomatoes would make it SO much better (I just LOVE home grown tomatoes) and I can see that a thinner crust would be good, but this bread toasted and was slightly crunchy and was wonderful to eat even without anything on top. Another thing that is almost universally agreed is to be spare with the ingredients – don't cover every millimeter of crust with stuff.

The tomatoes cooked down to be like a sauce and I had layered mozzarella on top of some of the pieces, and basil on some. I did a pretty good job of mixing up the stuff on top for a variety of flavors in each bite.

I will definitely do this again. I will also try to find a market for homegrown tomatoes because there's just nothing like fresh homegrown tomatoes to make life better.

Thank you for reading.