I can’t remember when I got this idea in my head, but I decided that I have to go to Naples before leaving Italy. Maybe the fact that my lovely Italian roommates kept telling me that I will love it there had something to do with it – Anyhow we found ourselves on a weekend in Naples.
From that moment and on, falling in Love with Naples, was pretty easy. This wonderfully chaotic combination of colorful laundry hanging outside the windows on the tiny streets and the warm and loud people who never care enough to close the doors of their houses. But the real thing in Naples is the food. If you think about it for a moment, some of the best things in life come from Campania, the region where Naples is, and yes I am talking about Pizza and Bufala Mozzarella.
But not only that, the famous local pastries Sfogliatelle and Baba’ (the one that is completely soaked in rum), became all-time favorites. The loud markets with the freshest seafood and the most colorful vegetables. The local huge Taralli cookies that you just can’t stop eating and the one dollar Aperol Sprits drink that simply makes life better.
But the real treasure of the Neapolitan food scene is the Pizza. Pizza for Italians is a long going love affair. If we try to chaise its origins, we will arrive in Naples somewhere in the middle of the 18th century, when tomato sauce was first added to the focaccia – that was long before eaten and loved by the Romans, and pizza, as we know it today, was born. Although long ago pizza became an international food, and some may argue that they ate the best pizza somewhere in the US or even in Japan – for me if you want to taste the real thing Italy is the place.
The pizza in the north is much different than the pizza in the south of Italy. Whereas the traditional Neapolitan Pizza is round, thin and with crusty borders, the pizza in the north is thick and sold in square trays. In Naples, they don’t like to put too many toppings on their pizza. The most traditional choice is between Margarita and Marinara. Because honestly, you don’t need anything else when your pizza tastes like the one of the L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele (ask Julia Roberts, she had the chance to taste it staring in the movie Eat, Pray, Love and the owners still keep her a warm place in their heart).
Being a traditional Italian food, eating pizza in Italy has its specifics, I discovered it in the hard way when my Italian friends were choked to hear that back home I am usually ordering pizza with Jalapeno peppers and pineapple. In Italy, the topping choices can be very different but stay within the limits of the tradition. One of my favorite combinations is Salsiccia E Friarielli, sausage and spinach like green veggie or a white pizza with radicchio and gorgonzola cheese, but even the simplest buffalo pizza, when done by the right Pizzaiolo, is fantastic.
But life doesn’t always have to be so complicated! What if you could make it at home, your own delicious sourdough pizza?
For the dough –
- Sourdough – 100 grams.
- Flour – 300 grams (the best is to mix 00 flour with Semolina or all-purpose flour).
- Water – 200 milliliters.
- Salt – 10 grams.
- Olive oil – 20 milligrams (one table spoon).
For the toppings –
- Tomato sauce – 500 milliliters (Muti will be a good choice).
- Grinned Mozzarella cheese – 400 grams (give the Buffalo one a chance it’s incredible).
- Olives/mushrooms / dry tomatoes/gorgonzola cheese/ radicchio/sausage/onions or anything else you like to put on your pizza.
My suggestion is either a white pizza without the tomato souse with gorgonzola cheese and radicchio or a regular pizza with tomato sauce and a topping of sausage and rapini (in Italy known as Friarielli and in the US as Broccoli raab) or spinach instead if you are having troubles finding it.
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
- Mix the flour the sourdough and the water until the mixture is unified and easily formed into a ball.
- Knead the dough by rolling it backward and forwards, stretching, pulling and pushing the dough. Keep kneading for 5-10 minutes, or until you have an elastic dough.
- Grease a bowl with olive oil and place the dough inside. Cover it with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place to prove for at list 3 hours until it doubles its size – if you have the time, leaving it overnight will make the dough incredible.
- If you are up for a thin pizza, the dough needs to be flattened – place the dough on the lightly floured surface and roll it to fit your tray size. For a thicker pizza, you can use your hands to spread the dough to the wanted tray size.
- Spread the tomato sauce on the base and put the pizza in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Take the pizza out, add your mozzarella cheese and all the toppings you desire and put the pizza in the oven for another 10 minutes. Pizza will be ready within 20-30 minutes total, depending on its hight and the oven, give it a look after 20 minutes. If the top looks golden cut it to see that the dough is ready inside.
- Bon Appétit, enjoy your pizza with a glass of a refreshing beer.