Slices of fresh ripe tomatoes and fresh basil leaves for an 'in summer only' vegetarian pizza
I learned a trick that has dramatically improved my summer pizzas topped with fresh sliced tomatoes: just let them hang out for a while. Previous attempts at fresh tomato and basil pizza tended to result in wet tomatoes and dry basil. Not a good combination on a pizza.
I cracked the fresh herb code [did you know there was a fresh herb code? Now you do] with my Fresh Herb Pizza, so I figured it was time to crack the tomato code. The Illuminati are not involved. Just time and a bit of salt.
This technique of doing a bit of preparation and then walking away for a while has excellent results in my Soaked Oat Muffins as well as Waffles and even Pizza Dough. But enough cross linkage action--back to today's pizza.When I'm making pizzas with simple fresh ingredients, I like to dress things up a bit with olive oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper. In the instructions below you'll see a change from my usual pizza methods--after baking I finish the pizza with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. You can skip this step, sure, but I felt the flavors of the tomato and basil were enhanced with these actions.
Any old crust ought to do, but I had time and buttermilk on my hands so I made a quadruple batch of Buttermilk Pizza Dough (using ⅓ whole wheat and the rest all purpose flour). When I make a bunch of pizza dough, I stash the dough balls in the freezer and just pull out one the day before to thaw in the fridge.
For general hints, tips, and photo collages please check out my Pizza Primer post, a brain dump of all things related to making pizza in my home kitchen. For a photo album of pizza dough troubleshooting tips, please see my FB page.
Tomato Basil Pizza
1 large tomato (fresh, local, grown for flavor not ability to withstand travel)
1 pound pizza dough (or use a prebaked crust--your choice)
olive oil for brushing on the dough--a good 2 to 3 Tablespoons this time
6-8 large basil leaves
1½ cups shredded mozzarella
about a teaspoon of Italian seasoning blend
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. If you've got a pizza stone, rock on with that bad boy and let it preheat as well. If not, no worries, use a cookie sheet.
Slice tomato into thin slices and spread out on a cutting board or plate. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes while you work on other things. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, then leave for another 5 to 10 minutes until you're ready to use them.
On an oiled piece of parchment paper stretch out the dough into whatever position you can convince it to assume. Brush with olive oil. Place basil leaves on dough, and brush again with olive oil. Sprinkle about a cup of mozzarella cheese over basil, then top with drained tomato leaves. Top with Italian seasoning blend and the rest of the cheese.
Bake for 5 to 8 minutes on the parchment paper, then shimmy the pizza crust off of the paper and bake directly on the stone until the cheese is browned and bubbly, another 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and brush the edge of the crust with olive oil [trust me, you don't want to use your fingers for this step because you're too lazy to wash the brush from last night's grilled chicken]. Sprinkle with a healthy pinch of kosher salt and several grinds of pepper, cool on a rack, slice and serve.