Grilled Pizza Margherita Recipe

Margherita pizza is the ultimate celebration of everything that makes pizza so great -- crisp and airy dough, rich tomato sauce, and amazing mozzarella.

The classic pizza Margherita may be my all time fave, and I am not alone. It is so simply elegant, just dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and fresh green basil. Legend has it that it was first made by a local baker named Esposito in 1889 to commemorate the visit of Italy's Queen Margherita to Naples. He decorated it with the red, green, and white colors of the Italian flag.

Perfectly crisp and full of deep smoky flavor, our recipe for grilled Margherita pizza comes closer to brick oven pizza like you get in Italy or France than anything you can do indoors. This one depends heavily on fresh basil and it just cannot be made properly with dried basil, so don't try. Before you start grilling, I recommend you read my article The Science of Grilled Pizza (Pizza alla Griglia)

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The classic pizza Margherita is a celebration of a few select ingredients -- dough, tomato sauce, cheese.

Course. Lunch. Dinner. Entree.

Cuisine. Italian. American.

Makes. 1 (12") pizza

Preparation time. 30 minutes (not counting the time to make the dough)

Cooking time. 10 minutes

Ingredients

16 ounces Neapolitan style pizza dough

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

3 meaty tomatoes like Romas, stemmed, seeded, and chopped

4 to 6 large fresh basil leaves, stems cut off close to the leaf

4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thin

2 pinches Morton's kosher salt

About the cheese. This pie is measurably better if you get fresh mozz, the kind sold at deli counters in water.

Optional. You can use tomato sauce if you can't find really fresh fully ripe tomatoes.

Method

1) Make the dough one day in advance.

2) Preheat the grill until the sides and top are hot and the stone is about 600°F.

3) Pour the oil on the dough and with a brush, spread it to the edges. This helps seal the dough from the water in the fresh tomatoes. Lay the tomatoes on the oil, then the fresh whole basil leaves, then the cheese, then the salt. In the picture above I use tomato sauce rather than fresh tomatoes because it was winter. A good technique is to chiffonade the basil. This means that you gather the leaves and stack them neatly on top of each other. Then roll them like a cigar. Cut them in 18" slices making ribbons. Sprinkle the ribbons on before the cheese so the cheese will cover some of them and they won't cook as much. You'll then have a mix of well cooked and rare basil.

4) Bake until the bottom is dark golden and the cheese is runny and bubbling.

"Less is more."Robert Browning, 1855

Meathead Goldwyn

Meathead is the founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, and is also known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", a New York Times Best Seller and named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.

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