Basil — Drawing Challenge 2014

Here is my illustration for day 2:

B for Basilico (Basil).


Recipe for Pizza Margherita

Basil is an essential herb for many Italian dishes. It is best added at the last moment of cooking, to retain as much of its delicious flavour as possible. The recipe for Pizza Margherita below is a favourite, it is so simple but packed with flavour, like most Italian dishes. The dough recipe is the best I've tried - it never fails! It's also the right mix of chewy and crispy and the semolina used for dusting makes for an authentic, rustic Italian finish. Enjoy! Please feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below. 


1 teaspoon dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
2/3 cup warm water (make sure it is not too warm as it will kill the yeast)
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Semolina, for dusting

Margherita Topping
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
300ml bottle of good quality Italian tomato passata
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
Bocconcini, however much you like
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper and salt


Dough: Place the yeast, sugar and water in a bowl. Set aside for 1 hour, or until bubbles form. Add the flour, salt and oil. Mix to form a smooth dough and knead for 20 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place in a clean, oiled bowl, cover and allow to stand in a warm place for at least 30 minutes or until doubled in size (I usually make mine in the morning and leave to stand all day).*

Preheat oven to 240°C. Knock back the dough by punching it to remove air and divide into 2 balls. Roll dough out onto a surface dusted with semolina until you have 2 very thin, 25cm-diameter pizza bases. Carefully transfer to 2 lightly floured baking sheets.

Topping: In a bowl, combine passata with garlic and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste, then spread over pizza bases, leaving a 2cm border. Divide the bocconcini between the bases, then scatter with parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake for 8-10 minutes until cheese has melted and the pizza bases are crisp and lightly golden around the edges.

Drizzle the pizzas with a little more olive oil, garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately.^

*Recipe adapted from Donna Hay, Modern Classics, p. 186
^Topping recipe adapted from: Pizza Margherita