I have a confession to make…I have never made homemade pizza! I’ve been wanting to make some, though, and very recently I had the opportunity to review a cookbook/guide to pizza-making called Thursday Night Pizza, written by Fr. Dominic Garramone, and published by Reedy Press. So this was the perfect time for me to attempt making pizza from scratch.
Father Dominic hosted a popular PBS show, Breaking Bread with Father Dominic, for several years and has tested his pizza recipes for the past twenty years on his fellow monks at the Saint Bede Abbey. After all that testing, I figured I couldn’t go wrong with any of his recipes! The book includes instructions for making 3 different pizza doughs, 8 sauces, 2 pestos, and several dozen recipes for pizzas (including some pizza appetizers and a few dessert pizzas).
The hardest thing was deciding which recipe to try first…there’s the the Four Cheese Tomato-Top Pizza, Italian Beef Pizza, Carbonara Pizza, Spicy Thai Peanut Chicken Pizza, Spinach Pesto Pizza, and Muffaletta Pizza, to name a few. I finally decided on the Pizza Margherita, because all the ingredients–fresh basil, tomato, mozzarella, and garlic–are favorites of mine. In the cookbook, it’s described as “A classic pie that is both rustic and elegant in its simplicity.” I like rustic and simple! 🙂
Now as far as the pizza crust goes, Father Dominic says homemade dough is always the best, so I used his recipe for Italian style dough (for a thick crust) on page 32 of his cookbook. It’s not that hard to make, and the crust was really good! However, when you make homemade dough, it does add a few hours to your pizza-making process; if you don’t have the time, you can use pre-made pizza crust, like the Boboli brand, or whatever type of crust you prefer. For the Pizza Margherita, a thick crust works best. Father Dominic also recommends using a pizza stone instead of a pan if you have one, and I did have a round pizza stone. But if you don’t, just use a pizza pan.
Here’s the recipe…
PIZZA MARGHERITA (from Thursday Night Pizza)
- Recommended crust: 8-12 oz. of Italian style dough (from page 32) OR pre-made thick pizza crust
- 4 large plum tomatoes, diced and drained
- 1 garlic clove, mashed and minced
- 3 or 4 large leaves of fresh basil, cut into strips (I found some fresh basil at my grocery store; even in winter, more stores are carrying fresh herbs now and you definitely want fresh basil for this)
- 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces (I bought an 8-oz. block of mozzarella and shredded it with a grater)
- some cornmeal, for dusting your pizza stone or pan
Using your fingertips, hand-stretch the pizza dough to 12″ to 14″ and place on a pre-heated cornmeal-dusted baking stone or pizza pan. Toss diced tomatoes with garlic. Top the dough with the diced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Bake at 500 degrees until the crust is lightly browned and the mozzarella is fully melted (about 10-12 minutes). Remove from oven and top with strips of basil before serving.
If you like adding extra seasoning to your pizza, you might want to add a dash of salt or pepper to suit your taste.
This is a really nice and thick, cheesy pizza. And if I can make homemade pizza, I know you can, too! The recipes in Thursday Night Pizza are easy to follow, so don’t feel intimidated about trying any of them out!