The classic Pizza Margherita…. In a skillet! This lip-smacking thin crust pizza is adorned with a quick homemade tomato sauce, chewy mozzarella cheese combined with a bit of nutty Parmesan, fresh basil, and grape tomatoes. Pizza night just got tastier!
I am so easily distracted.
Like puppy dog when squirrel passes by it, distracted.
All the time.
Let’s say I’m getting ready for my shower and I need a fresh towel. Our laundry room is in the basement.
I head down to the basement intent on quickly grabbing a towel for my shower.
Quickly, because I have something cooking on the stove.
And as I walk down the stairs no less than 24 thoughts invade my brain, firing in succession at rapid speed:
“Oh, damn – I have to sign that syllabus (one of my son’s classes)”
*starts heading upstairs*
“No, no – Shit – Not now! Get the damn towel!”
*turns back around, heads downstairs*
“*Sigh* I’m missing those tiny cast iron skillets. I’ve been searching for weeks. Where the hell are they?!”
“Funny how I found that small madeleine pan and lost those skillets. There’s a word for that. I read it in the Berenstain Bears once as a kid”
“Look up Berenstain Bears stories.”
“Oh, look! My mini Bundt pans! I should make mini bundt cakes.”
“I’m in the mood for peanut butter cups.”
“Ugh. I’m so jiggly. So glad I don’t own a full length mirror. My thighs feel like Jell-O.”
“Why don’t I work out more? Oh, that’s right. I hate exercise”
“I shouldn’t have eaten those cookies.”
“Great, now I feel guilty”
“I need more glass bottles.”
“Should I make scented soy candles for Christmas?”
“OMG – It’s September!”
“Shit! Look at all this laundry!”
“These kids wear uniforms – Why the HELL do we have SO MANY clothes?”
“I have to do a load. I can’t even look at this anymore.”
“OK. Dark load… Laundry detergent… Fabric softener…Quick wash… Start”
“Whites are next.”
“I need Clorox.”
“Shit, I’m out of Clorox!”
“How can I whiten whites naturally? Don’t forget… Don’t forget… Commit it to long term memory… Don’t forget.”
“I need to clean this shelf (where I store my baking pans). Damn shelf is a hot mess”
*starts to organize shelf*
“I wonder if I can move my blog props down here.”
“This basement is out of control. I need to call 1-800-GOT-JUNK to get rid of all this shit. I’m not even going to think about it. We don’t need this crap anyway.”
“Why do we have club sized audio speakers down here?! It’s not 1996!”
“Oh, fuck – What’s burning?!”
I suppose you can argue that I think too much. You know how some people multi-task? I multi-think. And then I forget things because as I multi-think, I also multi-task. I need calm. In my brain, my actions. This is why I make pizza and bread dough by hand. It allows my mind to wander and gives my hands something to do. I don’t stop mid-knead. Kneading dough by hand is one of life’s pleasures. Try it.
Now flow with me, let’s talk about this Skillet Margherita Pizza.
I promised I’d make more pizza and here it is, the re-introductory voyage to a delicious pizza-licious season.
Margherita Pizza boasts simple ingredients that when cooked together make one of the most delicious dishes.
Pizza dough, kneaded by hand and thinly stretched inside a cast iron skillet. The cast iron skillet provides that delectable crunch we crave of thin-crust pizzas.
I prebake pizza dough. It’s an old habit. Believe it or not, back in the day my tomato sauces would turn my crusts soggy.
I made a simple tomato sauce with canned tomatoes and fresh aromatics – Onions, garlic cloves, and herbs.
Cheese – Chewy, stringy mozzarella with a bit of nutty Parmesan.
This pizza is scattered with fresh basil leaves and halved grape tomatoes. The skillet is placed in the oven and allowed to bake over high heat allowing the crust to brown and the cheese to melt.
The aroma of multiple spices, herbs, and cheeses wafting from the oven is intoxicating.
Margherita Pizza is thin-crust perfection.
Crunchy, chewy, nutty.
The weekend is approaching.
Calm your brain.
Make a pizza.
Skillet Margherita Pizza
- For the yeast
- Warm water - ½ cup
- Instant dry yeast - 2¼ teaspoon
- Granulated sugar - 1 tablespoon, heaping
- For the pizza dough
- Bread flour, plus more for dusting - 3 cups, spooned then leveled
- Whole wheat flour - 1 cup, spooned then leveled
- Salt - 1½ teaspoon
- Water, at room temperature - 1¼ cup
- Extra-virgin olive oil - 2 tablespoons
- For the pizza sauce
- Red onion, diced - 1 small
- Garlic cloves - 3, minced
- Parsley flakes - 1 tablespoon
- Basil leaves - 1/4 cup, chopped
- Oregano - 2 teaspoons
- Red pepper flakes - 1/4 teaspoon
- Crushed tomatoes - 1, (28 oz) can
- salt to taste
- For one (1) margherita pizza
- Extra-virgin olive oil - 2 tablespoons combined with: with 1/4 teaspoon each of red pepper flakes, parsley, basil, oregano, pinch of salt
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano - 1/4 cup
- Mozzarella, grated - 1 heaping cup
- Pizza sauce - 1/2 cup, heaping
- Grape tomatoes, sliced in half - About 8
- basil leaves, left whole, chopped or in a chiffonade - 2-3 tablespoons
- Kosher salt (for sprinkling)
Prepare pizza dough:
Liberally brush a bowl with olive oil or any neutral oil. Set aside.
Measure ½ cup of the warm water into a large liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast over the top, add the sugar, and then stir to combine. Leave for
about 10 minutes to proof and rise.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour, whole wheat flour, and salt, mixing briefly to blend. Measure the
room temperature water into the measuring cup with the yeast-water mixture. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the yeast-water mixture, along with the
olive oil. Mix until a cohesive dough is formed.
Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer the dough to the prepared
oiled bowl, turning once or twice to coat.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 1½-2 hours.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and press down to deflate.
Divide the dough into three equal pieces.
Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Note: This dough makes enough for three skillet pizzas. You can choose to make all pizzas at once (tripling the margherita pizza ingredients) or place
remaining two pieces of dough in the freezer until ready to use. Pizza dough will keep up to one month.
While the dough rises, make the pizza sauce.
Make the pizza sauce:
Place a medium sized sauté pan on your stove and turn the heat to medium. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of cooking oil in the pan. When the oil begins to
shimmer, add the diced onions and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often for one minute. Add the
parsley flakes, chopped basil leaves, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until very fragrant, about one more minute. Add the crushed tomatoes and
stir the mixture until combined. Taste and add salt as desired. Cook over medium high heat until the mixture begins to bubble. Reduce the heat to low and
simmer until the sauce has reduced to about half, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat. Allow to come to room temperature and then transfer to a glass jar
or container with a tightfitting lid. Set aside until ready to use.
Make the pizza:
Preheat the oven to 450° Fahrenheit.
Combine mozzarella and parmesan cheeses in a small bowl. Set aside.
Remove 1 piece of dough from refrigerator. Place the piece of dough in the center of a 10" cast iron skillet. Gently stretch the dough until it covers the
surface of the cast iron skillet. Brush lightly with infused olive oil. Pour the pizza sauce in the center of the dough, and spread it evenly, leaving a small edge border.
Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the tomato sauce. Add the grape tomatoes and sprinkle with basil leaves. Brush the outer edges with the infused oil and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.
Place in the oven and bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese bubbles, 10-15 minutes.
Pizza dough adapted from: Annie's Eats