Pasta is likely the most glorified pre-race meal. It’s the one that gets all of the attention for being a brilliant carb-loading food. Though this may be true, pasta bowls can get boring. There is however another famous Italian dish that’s just as good, if not better.

Margherita Neapolitan style pizza with buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil.

Pizza is an excellent meal option. Frozen store-bought boxes or Americanized pizzas certainly fall under the unhealthy category, but a traditional Neapolitan thin-crust pizza can be just as nutritious as a big bowl of pasta.

Simplicity is key when adorning these bubbly crusts. The classic Margherita pizza is simply tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. A minimal amount of fresh ingredients can give enough punch to the flavour palate so that it feels like there’s way more going on than what’s presented.

While pizza may take a little extra ahead-of-time planning, the actual baking time is short. Making the dough a day in advance allows it to rise slowly and create beautiful bubbles that make the light and crispy crust of a Neapolitan pizza. Once risen, all that’s left to do is shape and fill the pizza with whatever toppings you desire. Here are a few of our favourite combinations:

BBQ Chicken Pizza: Chicken breast (cooked and cut into small pieces), Bacon (cooked and crumbled BBQ sauce), Old cheddar cheese, grated Red onion (sliced thinly)

Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza: Prosciutto, Pesto (homemade or store-bought Fresh arugula), Asiago cheese (flaked), Olive oil to drizzle

Classic Margherita Pizza: Tomato sauce, Fresh mozzarella (sliced Cherry tomatoes), halved Fresh basil to garnish

Andouille Sausage Pizza: Tomato sauce, Andouille sausage (sliced), sliced and cooked Mushroom, Fresh mozzarella cheese (grated)

Classic Pizza Dough

Ingredients

  • 500 g all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
  • 8 g fine sea salt
  • 1 g active dry yeast
  • 350 g water, about 1 1⁄2 cups

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast and salt. Add the water and, with a wooden spoon and/ or your hands, mix thoroughly. It’s easiest to start with the spoon, then switch to your hands.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature for 18 hours or until it has more than doubled. It will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one.
  3. Flour a work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into 4 equal parts and shape them.
  4. For each portion, start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the centre, then do the same with the left, then the top, then the bottom (the order doesn’t actually matter; what you want is four folds). Shape each portion into a round and turn seam-side down. Mould the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.
  5. Once ready to bake, place the pizza stone in the oven, so it is about 20 cm from the broiler. Preheat the oven on bake at 500 F for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Take one ball of dough and generously flour it in your hand, and the work surface. Gently press down and stretch the ball of dough out to 25–30 cm. Don’t worry if it’s not round. Don’t handle it more than necessary; you want some of the gas bubbles to remain in the dough. It should look slightly blistered.
  7. Flour and place some cornmeal on a pizza peel (or an unrimmed baking sheet) and lay the disk of dough onto the centre. Then, spoon sauce over the surface and spread it evenly, leaving about an inch of the rim untouched. It is now ready to be topped with your favourite pizza toppings and cheese.
  8. The oven should be pre-heated to 500 F by this time. Now, set your oven to the highest setting it can go, about 550 F, if possible. Always keep an eye during the baking process and be aware of smoke levels. Do not leave pizza baking unattended.
  9. With quick, jerking motions, slide the pizza off the pan onto the stone. Bake for anywhere between 5–10 minutes depending on your oven’s abilities, the top should be bubbling and the crust starting to brown nicely.
  10. Remove, cut and serve immediately.

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