This year we planted two varieties of heirloom tomatoes and are currently enjoying them in salads and sandwiches, and on this unbelievable homemade pizza. Making a pizza at home is a simple pleasure that will transport you straight to Italy. I dream of the day when I will have an outdoor kitchen with a coal oven, to make pizza in the true Neapolitan tradition. Nowadays, we use a pizza stone in a very hot oven to achieve a crisp, bubbly crust.
Heirloom Tomato Pizza
Homemade or store-bought pizza dough (check with your local Italian Bakery)
3 tblsp flour
3 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced 1/2-inch-thick
6 oz fresh whole milk mozzarella, drained in paper towels, then sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
handful of fresh basil leaves
1 10-oz can tomato sauce (no salt or basil added, just a can of thin puree)
3 garlic cloves, skin removed, and slightly crushed
red pepper flakes
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and fresh pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel; let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.
2. Heat 1 tblsp of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a small saute pan. Add smashed cloves of garlic and red pepper flakes (to taste) and let the oil infuse for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves when they are golden brown; do not let burn. Add the can of tomato sauce and bring to a gentle simmer. Chiffonade 10 basil leaves and add the thin strips to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 500° and place the pizza stone in the middle rack at the outset to let it heat up gradually. Meanwhile, knead the pizza dough for a few minutes, dusting your hands and your work surface with flour as needed. Place your fists in the middle of the dough round and begin to stretch and toss it into a thinner circle. Be careful not to form any holes. Place your dough on the work surface and use a rolling pin to gently roll out the pizza dough; always start from the center and push towards the edges. When your pizza round is even and the size of your pizza stone, begin layering the toppings.
4. Start with a thin layer of sauce. Top that with the mozzarella cheese, then the slices of heirloom tomatoes. Sprinkle each slice of tomato with sea salt (this will help evaporate excess moisture in the oven). Sprinkle some fresh Parmesan on the top and dot with fresh basil leaves. Carefully brush some olive oil around the exposed edges of dough.
5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until crust is bubbly and cheese is melted. Let cool for 3 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan, fresh basil and red pepper flakes.