Author Notes: A simple pizza or two was sometimes made for family gatherings to celebrate a special occasion. My Grandma Angelo called this pizza, the only kind she made, “the frienda kind.” In fact, she called a lot of things frienda, her Italian slang the best I can explain it, means something that is the most familiar to all.
This recipe is similar to those days gone by; crushed tomato sauce, sautéed garlic, basil, a sprinkle or two of pecorino and an addition of stringy, melt in your mouth cheese over a square yeast dough that bakes airy and crisp – that’s the frienda kind.
Today, I’ve kept this family tradition alive and am known not only for the pizza but for the party moments that goes with it; a feast that is enjoyed by all.
Best served with a large tossed green salad that can be put together in a matter of minutes from what is readily available.
Makes 1 square pizza, 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan (easy to make 2 or 3)
- 1 28 oz. can organic Italian crushed tomatoes or 2 lbs fresh plum tomatoes
- Garlic, finely chopped – to your taste
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt - to taste
- 12 fresh basil leaves - chiffonade - optional,I don't always use it my grandmother never did
- 1 envelope Rapid Rise yeast
- 1-1/3 cups warm water
- 3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- CHEESE TOPPING
- 3 cups grated low moisture whole milk mozzarella
- 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano - divided in half
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil to drizzle over the raw dough
- SAUCE Heat the olive oil, add the garlic, sauté a minute to soften, add the tomatoes, salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 45 minutes. Stir in the fresh basil. Let the sauce cool.
- CRUST In a large bowl, combine 3-1/2 cups of the flour, yeast packet and the salt. Add the water until a soft dough forms.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary, about 10 minutes.
- Lightly coat a large bowl with oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to oil the top. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm, draft free place and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
- Oil a 15 x 10 x 1 inch jelly-roll type pan. Place the dough in the center of the pan, with your fist flatten. Continue to stretch and flatten the dough to fit the pan. NOTE: You may need to relax the dough; let it rest around 5-10 minute intervals, a couple times, relaxing the dough helps to stretch and flatten. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for about 1 hour, until puffy and almost doubled.
- CHEESE Grate the cheese, set aside until needed.
- BAKING THE PIZZA Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- With your fingertips, firmly press the dough to make dimples at 1-inch intervals all over the surface. Drizzle a little olive oil over the dough and then the sauce, leaving a ½-inch border all around.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven. Sprinkle half of the grated cheese and then scatter the mozzarella over top. Sprinkle with rest of the grated cheese.
- Return the pizza to the oven and bake for about 5-10 more minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is browned. Let pizza sit for about 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve hot.