A widespread belief says that in June 1889 the Neapolitan chef Raffaele Esposito invented a dish called "Pizza Margherita" in honor of the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. The ingredients used were inspired by the colors of the national flag of Italy: basil (green), mozzarella (white) and tomato (red) and it seemed that the pizza caught her Majesty's attention.
Pizza with tomato sauce, however, already existed since the second half of the seventeenth century, when the cultivation of tomato had begun to spread in Italy. Back then tomato sauce was added to the flat bread focaccia, known as pizza, from the Greek pitta (πίττα that is baked in the oven), whose simplest version can be even attributed to Homo erectus.
INGREDIENTS (serve 4 people)
850 g (30 oz) of flour
350 ml ( 11.8 oz) of water
35 g (1.2 oz) of yeast
500 g (17.6 oz) of tomato sauce
150 g (5.2 oz) of mozzarella
a few leaves of fresh basil
extra-virgin olive oil
Dissolve the yeast in warm water, add the salt and then flour, then knead them until you get a soft and uniform dough. Put it in a bowl, cover it with a cloth and let it rest for about 3 hours until its volume has doubled.
Roll out the dough with a floured rolling pin - to prevent it from sticking - until it is about 5 mm thick. Pour a little oil on the bottom of a baking pan and roll the dough over it, then add the tomato sauce, salt and oregano. Season with a thin drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
The pizza can be cooked both in an electric oven and in a gas oven. I prefer the gas oven, because the pizza is crisper. A word of advice: preheat the oven to 250 º C and, just before baking, slightly lower the temperature - 15 degrees will be enough - and then cook the pizza for about 15 minutes.
Halfway through cooking, add the mozzarella, cut into cubes. Before serving, garnish with some fresh basil leaves.