Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Simple and delicious Italian meal

Tomatoes are one of my all time favorite foods and they're best during the late summer months. But some vendors at the Durham Farmers' Market even offer delicious tomatoes during the winter months thanks to greenhouses. These tomatoes are great with just some salt and pepper but this simple pizza recipe makes for an easy, delicious dinner any night of the week. It only takes about 20 minutes total (including preheating time) and is healthy and satisfying.

I love this pizza made with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella (also from the farmers' market) and basil as it reminds of me of the time I spent living in Florence, Italy. In Florence, the food is amazing and often comes from the simplest ingredients and cooking methods. When the ingredients are incredibly fresh and well made, the techniques do not need to be complicated to create an amazing dish.

I also wanted to find a good Italian red that would compliment the pizza. I chose a Valpolicella, a red wine made in the Veneto region of Italy (near Venice), that goes wonderfully with the pizza. It's made primarily from the Corvina grape and has a wonderful balance of fruit and acidity that holds up well with the fresh flavors of the pizza. Go for a Valpolicella that is designated Superiore to ensure great taste as well as one that is labelled as Ripasso, a technique that involves refermenting the wine on the skins of the Amarone, a rich red wine made from partially dried grapes.

This entire meal could easily be found at any cafe in Northern Italy. So if you can't make it all the way to Florence, try making it at home for a travel experience without the price tag.

  • 2 pre-cooked pizza crust (I use whole wheat for the flavor and added health benefits)
  • 3-4 vine ripe tomatoes
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6-10 fresh basil leaves
Preheat oven to 450 degrees (follow pizza crust instructions, temperatures may vary).
Brush a thin coat of olive oil over pizza crusts.
Thinly slice tomatoes and arrange on crust in one layer.
Season with salt and pepper.
Thinly slice mozzarella (use fresh, it's much better than shredded).
Place over tomatoes as evenly as possible.
Cook pizzas for 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and scatter torn basil leaves over the hot pizza.
Slice and serve immediately.

If possible, decant the wine while preparing the pizza. Pour and enjoy this simple taste of Italy!

For a printable recipe click here

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