I eagerly await summer for the arrival of one thing in particular: perfectly ripe, sweet, exceptionally flavorful tomatoes. The greenhouse sort available year-round pale in comparison on both the flavor and texture fronts, so much so that I more-or-less refuse to eat them unless they are in-season. (Plus, winter tomatoes are ridiculously expensive, especially from a cost-benefit perspective.)
While I’m still waiting for our Beefsteak tomatoes to ripen, the smaller varieties (Chadwick Cherry, Snowberry, Green Grape and Green Zebra) that we’re growing this year are practically threatening to fall off the branches more quickly than I can come up with new ideas for what to do with them.
As much as I love to eat the fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes after a quick rinse, one of my favorite ways to serve them — where they are still allowed to shine with minimal effort — is on a pizza. Sliced tomatoes combined with fresh mozzarella, basil, a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper is my idea of the perfect summer meal — one best enjoyed al freso, just after the sun has disappeared but the air remains warm from the heat of the day. I hope you’re enjoying their peak just as much as I am.
Active Preparation Time: 30 – 45 minutes
Inactive Preparation Time: 2 hours, minimum
Once the dough has risen, remove all but one rack from the oven. Place remaining rack on the lowest level, set a large, rimmed baking sheet upside down on top of it, and preheat to 500°F.
Punch down dough and divide into 4 pieces (about 3.5 ounces each); cover with a barely damp cloth to keep moist. Roll one ball of dough out on a clean, millet flour coated surface into a very thin, about 1/8″ thick, circle. Transfer dough to a sheet of aluminum foil. Top with 1/4 of the cheese and tomatoes, leaving about 1/4″ border of dough (crust). Place pizza, aluminum foil and all, onto the hot baking sheet. Bake for 6 – 7 minutes or until mozzarella is melted and crust is golden brown. Top with about 10 basil leaves (more or less to taste) and bake for another 30 seconds – 1 minute or until basil is slightly wilted. Remove pizza from oven and top with a drizzle of olive oil (about 1/2 – 1 teaspoon) and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Transfer pizza to a cooling rack for couple minutes before slicing (the cheese is waaaaaay too gooey to slice neatly right away). Slice and serve! Repeat with remaining dough and toppings.
¹ I prefer using Ciliegini because all the pieces of mozzarella the same size for more even cheese distribution. Plus, they are much easier to cut in half (knife or kitchen shears) than slicing the balls. I typically purchase my cheese at Trader Joe’s; it’s also available at Whole Foods and most grocery store chains.