Pizza inspirations – Mozzarella, basil and slow-roast tomatoes


20071026_tomatobasilmozzarellapizzaAs I have said before, Friday nights here at Chez Cooksister are pizza nights.  For the rest of the week, I try to cook reasonably balanced and healthy meals:  protein, carbohydrates and lots of vegetables.  Yes, they are tasty, but these meals do seem to take up pretty much all of my leisure time on weeknights.  So come Friday night, I go for the 80/20 rule and abandon all idea of crunchy greenery in favour of a pizza. 

For a while after we moved to England, I tried some of the pizza takeaways around here.  Hmmm.  Mediocre across the board.  Yukky bases, ghastly rubber cheese and toppings that are a bridge too far.  Chicken tikka masala pizza, anyone?  Stuffed crust?  Blech.  So eventually I settled on a compromise of buying Tesco Organic Margherita bases and adding my own toppings.  Not quite home-made, but not quite fast food either.  Perfectly balanced.

There's no rocket science involved in the pizza pictured here.  I might just as well have called this post Hooked on Classics because the mozzarella/tomato/basil combination just does not come more classic than this. My particular toppings were buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil (added after the pizza was cooked) and yet more of my delicious slow-roasted tomatoes

In fact, this combination is one of the traditional Neapolitan pizza toppings – and let me assure you, these guys take their pizza seriously.  Really seriously.  So serious, in fact, that in 2004, dismayed at the international bastardization of their culinary heritage, the Italian Agriculture Ministry and professional pizza-makers drew up a document for the EU detailing what may and may not be called a traditional Neapolitan pizza. The document was even published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale, a publication usually reserved for legal notices.  The rules stipulate the type of flour and yeast that may be used and also include things like:

  • the dough should be allowed to rise for atleast six hours;
  • the dough should be kneaded and shaped into a disc by hand, without the aid of a rolling pin;
  • the pizza should be round and no more than 35cm in diameter, with a maximum thickness of 0.3cm in the centre, rising to 2cm at the crust; and
  • the pizza must be cooked in a wood-fired oven.

It is also stipulated that there are only three traditional toppings for a Neapolitan pizza:20071026_tomatobasilmozzarellapiz_2  Marinara (garlic and oregano), Margherita (basil, tomatoes and cheese from the southern Apennine mountains); and Extra Margherita (like the previous pizza but must contain buffalo mozarella from the Campania region).  Only if all these requirements are fulfilled will the pizza carry the coveted TSG label (guaranteed traditional speciality), meaning that Neapolitan pizza is now protected in much in the same way as products like feta or Roquefort cheese, and port or sherry wine.

Like I said, these guys mean business. 

So at the risk of running foul of EU legislation, I'd like to propose that my efforts here also be given a TSG designation:

Truly, Scrumptiously Good.

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  1. says

    It looks great! Friday night is always pizza night here too and I was really delighted to see that I fulfilled 3 out of the 4 pizza requirements, we don’t have a wood-fired oven… thanks for making my day!

  2. says

    “the pizza must be cooked in a wood-fired oven!!!!”
    YES, YES, YES!!!
    I love pizza, e se uno mi cucina una pizza nel forno elettrico io gliela stampo in faccia quella schifezza.
    Pizza con: pomodoro, gorgonzola, speck e origano. I like it.
    Buon appetito.

  3. says

    Mmmmm… pizza!! Usually we make tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese based pizza too. But sometimes we branch out and use an onion sauce topped with spinach, goat’s cheese and pecans. It’s killer good too…
    P.S. You know, it’s dead easy to make your own pizza dough and the great thing about it is that it can be stuck in the fridge after it’s kneaded to rise there.

  4. says

    my friend from naples tells me that the true “test” for a neopolitan crust is if it can be folded without breaking despite how thin it is. friday nights are pizza nights at ours too. there’s nothing like a homemade pizza. we love ours with margaritas.