Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cherry Tomato Margherita Pizza

A gray, rainy night really is the perfect excuse for pizza night. Especially when tempted by fresh mozzarella in the fridge, fresh basil in the garden and cherry tomatoes in the CSA box.

I really do love margherita pizza; it is simple, savory and satisfying. This recipe adds crushed fennel seeds to the slightly charred cherry tomatoes and crushed garlic.  Perfect for a gathering of friends, this pizza can be made in about 20 minutes. It may be my favorite pizza topping yet!

The first time we made the margherita pizza, we added burrata in addition to the fresh mozzarella (let's just say that my dear friend MR is obsessed with burrata). Although deliciously creamy, the burrata oozed all over the skillet in the oven and turned the would-have-been crispy thin crust into a soggy, naan-like mess.

Our second attempt was infinitely better. We stuck to using fresh mozzarella and used less cheese overall, roughly one 4 oz mozzarella ball for 2 pizzas. Success!

Cherry Tomato Margherita Pizza (adapted from Bon Appétit)

1 pint cherry tomatoes, stemmed
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, coarsely crushed in a mortal and pestle
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
4 oz ball fresh mozzarella in water (I used Whole Foods Ovoline Fresh Mozzarella)
1/4 cup basil leaves, chiffonade
2 parbaked pizza crusts (see recipe for pizza dough)

Heat a large skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Add oil, then tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until tomatoes are charred and beginning to break down, about 5 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in garlic, crushed fennel, and crushed red pepper. Using back of fork, crush tomatoes in bowl, leaving large chunks intact. Season mixture with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle parmesan evenly over pizza crust. Tear mozzarella into pieces and add to pizza. Spoon tomato mixture onto pizza crust in dollops.  Scatter with basil leaves. Slide under the broiler for about 8 minutes until it gets good color, moving around in the oven as needed. Repeat with other pizza crust.

Makes 2 pizzas.

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