With spring nearly here and the days getting longer, it’s a wonderful time for outdoor food, especially here in Dry Creek Valley. Whether its a picnic, potluck, or just a casual dinner in your backyard, food that can be eaten outdoors alongside a glass of wine is going to be fitting for just about every occasion. This Napoletana-style Margherita pizza recipe from Chef Jon Seeger of Boskos Trattoria paired with a 2011 Nalle Winery Zinfandel is a crowd-pleaser that will have you feeling (and looking) like an artisanal pizza maker!
Napoletana pizza is a specific, regionally-influenced style of pizza that you find the locals eating in Naples. The dough is usually stretched thin and sauced lightly, and topped with fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. The pizza can get so thin in the center that eating with a knife and fork is sometimes preferred, but also can be eaten by hand and the crusts make for some great olive oil dipping.
Of course, great pizza always starts with the pizza dough. The secret to creating authentic, restaurant-quality pizza dough at home without the benefit of a traditional wood-fired oven? Time. Pizza dough that’s given ample time to rise means a smaller amount of yeast needs to be used. Less yeast, when allowed a leisurely, deliberate rise, creates complex flavors in the dough and this aging process turns the dough into a wonderfully delicious crust that’s both light and airy, delicate and crumbly, supple and bursting with tang. When paired with Nalle Winery’s Zin, all of those flavors are given a chance to shine. Yes, when it comes to pizza dough making at home, time is most definitely on your side.
Pizza Dough – Makes six 6-ounce dough balls
4 ¼ cups “00” flour
¾ cup dark rye flour ( 22 ½ ounces total )
2 teaspoons Grey Salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 ¾ cups, plus 2 tablespoons of cool water
Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl until combined. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Mix again until the dough lightly sticks to the side of the bowl. Using wet hands, work the dough into a ball and place into a bowl. Brush with olive oil, and cover with plastic. Let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, then put it in the refrigerator overnight.
Remove dough from the refrigerator. Allow to sit for two hours, or until room temperature. Lightly dust 2 large baking sheets with flour. Transfer/scrape the dough on to a floured counter space, trying to degas the dough as little as possible. Cut the dough into 5 even pieces. Form the pieces into balls and transfer them to the prepared flour-dusted baking sheets. Pop any air bubbles on the surface of each ball. Securely cover the dough balls by sliding each baking sheet into a clean 13-gallon plastic kitchen bag and tying them closed. Let the dough stand in a warm place until it has a little more than doubled in bulk, usually around 8 hours. Then, refrigerate the dough overnight.
Day 3 (Serving Day):
Prepare another flour-dusted counter space. Set a pizza stone on a rack in the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500° for at least 45 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the baking sheets from the refrigerator and let the dough stand for 20 minutes or until it’s room temperature.
Transfer your dough balls to the flour-dusted counter space. Knead and shape the dough into round, 10-inch shapes. Add your favorite marinara sauce and remember less is better, then layer on small dollops of fresh mozzarella, then fresh basil leaves, and finish with some extra virgin olive oil. This also makes a great base with whatever other ingredients you may want to add. (Suggested toppings: sausage, olives, capers or veggies like squash or shittake mushrooms).
Turn the oven to broil for 5 minutes, then return it to 500°. Transfer the pizza onto the pizza stone (it should slide right on), opening and closing the oven door as quickly as possible. Bake until the bottom is lightly charred and the toppings start bubbling, around 6 minutes for a chewier crust and 8 minutes for a crispier one. Repeat with the remaining pizza dough and toppings. Serves 6-10 and let the party begin! Serve with a 2011 Nalle Zinfandel.