Zapotec Pizza Margherita

One of the regrets I have every September is that I never make enough of these pizzas. Even with a family tradition of Friday pizza and movie nights, I can never seem to get enough in. And it’s my fault. I spend the better part of spring and early summer pinning for the First Tomato, inevitably resulting in darn near deification of the first month of harvest.  These tomatoes are above such things as flame and heat. They are the pure essence of summer and therefore must be eaten in their pure state, accompanied only by such acolytes as salt and olive oil.

As July meanders into August, I become less of a tomato zealot and start throwing them willy nilly into everything. After all, what dish is not made better by the addition of a tomato slice or two? This is when I seem to remember the Pizza Margherita. Not needing a recipe, making them become a kind of meditation. I am completely in the present moment as I make it. The golden olive oil pooling in the dimples of the crust. The feeling of the knife brushing my knuckles as it carves off the thin slices of tomato. The spicy green smell of snipped basil lingering on my fingertips. The sizzling of the cheese blistering in the oven. Pizza nirvana follows with the first bite.

And then September comes. Tomatoes are once again precious. Only this time I scrimp and save them up to make this pizza one last time, vowing to make better use of Tomato Time next year.

This year a new tomato wondered across my cutting board. The Zapotec. It’s an heirloom variety from the Oaxacan region of Mexico.  Much like a Roma tomato, it lacks the copious amounts of jelly/guts. Its lower moisture content means it doesn’t make the pizza soggy. Unlike a Roma, however, it’s pleated shape adds visual appeal to a pizza. And it tastes good. All of which leads me to the conclusion that even though pizza might be Italian, its tomato mate speaks with a Mexican accent.

Pizza Margherita*

1 recipe of your favorite pizza crust
Olive oil
Mozzarella cheese
Zapotec or other low moisture tomatoes (peeled if you wish)
Fresh basil

Preheat oven to 500°. Stretch or roll out your dough. Drizzle olive oil over the top and brush all the way out to the edges. Shred or slice the cheese and lay it out on the pizza. Horizontally slice the tomatoes as thinly as possible. Layer them over the cheese. Slide the pizza into the oven and bake for about 9-12 minutes, until the cheese is pleasantly blistered and the crust is golden brown. While it’s baking, snip the basil into small pieces. If you’re a perfectionist, you can officially chiffonode the basil. If not, cutting it up with scissors works just as well. Once you’ve taken the pizza out of the oven, sprinkle the basil over the top like confetti. Wait about 2 minutes for everything to set, then slice it up and get on your way to pizza nirvana.

*Yes, I realize there are no amounts for the ingredients in the recipe. That’s because it all depends on how big your crust is. I’m trusting that you all are smart enough to eyeball the ingredients.

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Posted in Uncategorized 12 years, 3 months ago at 7:58 pm.

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