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Zia's Tomato-Basil Pizza

Originally aired

INGREDIENTS
  • 1⁄2 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 1⁄2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 large tomatoes, cut into 1⁄4-inch-
  • thick slices (if you can find them, Roma tomatoes are best for this)
  • 1⁄2 cup (about 2 ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1⁄2 packed cup fresh basil leaves, torn or coarsely chopped
PREPARATION

For the Dough: In a small bowl, combine the warm water and yeast. The water should be “hand hot,” so that it’s not too hot to put your fingers in, but not lukewarm. Stir until the yeast is dissolved.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and salt together. Add the yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too dry, you can add a little extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too sticky, add extra flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. With floured hands, knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 5–7 minutes.

Drizzle the inside of a clean bowl with olive oil and rub it all around to coat the inside of the bowl. This keeps the dough from sticking to the bowl. Put the dough in the bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean, damp kitchen towel. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free place. (I like to place my dough in the oven, which I’ve preheated to 200°F. If you want to try this method, remember to make sure you turn off the oven before the dough goes in!) Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.

After your dough has risen, punch it down with your fist and form a ball. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let it rest for 1 hour. If you are not going to make your pizza right away, wrap your dough in plastic and refrigerate it for up to 1 day.

To Make the Pizza: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F. Sprinkle the cornmeal on a large rimless baking sheet.

On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough onto a 12-inch diameter circle, about 1⁄4 inch thick. Transfer the dough onto the prepared baking sheet, making sure the cornmeal is evenly distributed on the bottom of the dough.

Drizzle the pizza dough with olive oil. Spread the minced garlic over the dough, then sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge for the crust. Place the tomato slices in a single layer over the cheese and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the basil leaves on top. Drizzle with olive oil again and bake until the crust is crisp and brown on the bottom and the cheese is melted, about 18–20 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt and cut into slices.

Serve immediately. Buon appetito! Enjoy!

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