Savor the Italian delicacy in the purest form as pizza marinara. The super-light chewy crust has a thin center and perfectly baked fluffy cornicione. Its attractive red crushed tomato sauce layer is an ancient genius move. The few selected toppings covering garlic, oregano, basil, and extra virgin olive oil complete the pizza satisfyingly.
This pizza is believed to have been prepared by Italian seafarers’ wives in the 18th century. After the husbands finished their fishing trips in the Bay of Naples and returned home, they were treated to the pizza alla marinara. Other tales narrate that this no-cheese and meatless pizza was created to last in the long sea voyages and feed the seafarers.
This Neapolitan pizza is both vegetarian and vegan friendly. The Pizza marinara clean flavors and textures make you a fan of this classic. The secret lies in choosing the best ingredients, striking the balance of sauce & toppings, and cooking it at the proper temperatures. Other authentic Italian pizzas to relish include the cheesy Margherita pizza, pizza Bianca, the deep-fried pizza fritta, and folded calzone.
Pizza marinara requires just a few ingredients, and the Italian grocery section is where you should head straight. Although these ingredients are readily available, purchasing the best quality items assures the perfect pizza taste.
- Extra virgin olive oil
This recipe uses Tipo 00 flour to make a light crust that bakes to a crisp & chewy texture. Commonly used in Italian recipes, the elasticity & strength of this finely ground refined flour is incredible. The dough rises and stretches well owing to the flour’s high gluten content.
The best quality Italian extra virgin olive oil is mildly spicy and bitter. The rich golden oil has a light fruity, herbaceous olive fragrance.
San Marzano tomatoes grow in Italy, near Naples. The Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino kind is the authentic choice for this Neapolitan pizza. The fleshy tomatoes contain few seeds and are known for their sweet and less acidic flavor.
Garlic offers its unique aroma, taste, and soft nutty bite. Before slicing them finely, remember to remove the inedible tough part of the peeled garlic cloves. Adding a clove depends on your taste preference. The texturally soft Italian fresh basil has a subtle peppery taste with a delicate sweet and mint flavor. It differs from Thai basil, which has a more spicy, savory note with a licorice aroma. Furthermore, avoid using dried Italian basil as it will not match the fresh taste & texture.
Oregano is an authentic Italian herb. Its sweet fragrance and earthiness enhance the pizza deliciously. Oregano can also be found atop the Fugazzeta.
To create an airier pizza, combine half Italian 00 flour (or all-purpose flour) with half Type 0 flour (a strong flour). Considering this dough’s extra protein and strength, it requires 2 hours to rise. Additionally, when using only Type 0 flour, you must let it rise for 6-8 hours or overnight for best results.
You can also buy pre-made pizza dough instead of making the dough at home. This would really work when having a pizza party. Biga pizza dough is suitable for this pizza marinara. It develops a light, airy, and flavorful crust. Sourdough would work too.
In place of San Marzano tomatoes, fresh corbarino tomatoes can be blanched, peeled, and crushed to make the sauce. As goes for fresh/canned variety, Roma tomatoes are a good pick. If you can find fresh oregano, you may use that instead of dried oregano.
Pizza marinara notes
Those who prefer a subtle sweetness in their pizza crust can add half a teaspoon of sugar or honey to the pizza dough. A true Neapolitan-style pizza has a thin base. Therefore, stretch it nicely using your hands to create a cornicione. It helps keep the runny tomato sauce in place.
Wet the basil leaves in a teaspoon of water mixed with a pinch of salt. It saves the fresh leaves from charring or burning during the baking process. You could also add the basil leaves after baking the pizza.
A dash of crushed black pepper can be sprinkled on the pizza. Although the ingredient is not used in the traditional recipe, the peppery mellow heat compliments the overall flavor.
To bake the pizza in an electric oven, preheat the oven to 500° F with the pizza stone placed inside. Bake for 5-7 minutes while rotating the pizza halfway through.
Store and reheat
Wrap the leftover marinara pizza slices in aluminum sheets and transfer them to an airtight container or zip-lock bag. When stored in the fridge, they will last for 3 days, while in the freezer, they will last for 3 months.
To reheat, preheat the air-fryer for 5 minutes at 400° F. Place 1-2 leftover pizza slices in the basket and cook for 2½-3 minutes. You’ll know the pizza is reheated perfectly when the crust is crisp, the cheese is bubbly, and the pizza is heated all through.
How to make pizza marinara?
- Make the dough – Begin by mixing the flour, yeast, salt, and oil in the food processor. Then, add the warm water slowly and knead for a few minutes till the ingredients come together into a dough ball. Place the dough ball in an oil-greased bowl and let it proof for 1 hour. After the initial 30 minutes of proofing, divide the dough into two parts and set it aside to finish proofing.
- Prepare the sauce – Crush the strained whole peeled tomatoes and mix them with salt. Keep aside for later.
- Assemble the pizza – Stretch a dough ball into an 11-inch circle. Spread the tomato sauce and top with garlic slices, fresh basil leaves, oregano, and a drizzle of oil. Bake for 1-2 minutes in the preheated propane-gas oven while turning regularly for even cooking.
Pizza marinara FAQ
Why bake the pizza in a wood-fired or propane-gas pizza oven?
Classic artisan pizza is traditionally cooked at higher temperatures. Both wood-fired and propane gas ovens can get much hotter than standard electric ovens. The smokiness of pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven is unmatchable. Yet, an inexpensive Ooni pizza oven can also heat up to 1000° F and does justice to the traditional pizza marinara. It is not a necessity but elevates the pizza.
Will the watery tomato sauce make the pizza soggy?
No. The simple crushed uncooked tomatoes create a super runny pizza sauce. It is more watery than cooked pizza sauce, but this is completely normal. It will not make the pizza soggy as without any cheese layer or heavy toppings blocking the direct heat, most of the liquid will evaporate during the baking.
Which wine goes best with pizza marinara?
The Sicilian red wine “Nero d’Avola” pairs well with this tomato-centric pizza marinara. The Italian dry sparkling wine “Lambrusco” is another great choice. If your pizza has a dominating garlic taste, opt for “Vermentino” or “Sauvignon Blanc.
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