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English Muffin Margherita Pizzas

March 15, 2012

It’s unrealistic to think that everyday could be a gourmet food kind of day when cooking at home.  Afterall, who has the time or the energy to whip up a gourmet dinner after a long, tough day at work or dealing with kids, or anything else.  Half the time, it’s difficult to fight the urge to just run to the local fast food joint and pick up a quick meal.

Awhile back, when my husband and I were struggling with the same issue, we looked around our kitchen and tried to find something that we could whip up quickly and easily as neither of us wanted to really cook a full meal.  What we came up with was English muffin Margherita pizza.  It’s your classic Margherita pizza, served in compact individual sizes using english muffins as a substitute to pizza crust.  I remember having made English muffin pizzas before as a kid when I needed a quick afterschool snack.

The needed ingredients are really simple: English muffins, tomato paste, tomato sauce, garlic powder, garlic cloves, dried oregano, dried parsley, dried basil, olive oil, tomato slices, basil leaves, and mozzarella cheese.

The star of this show is the English muffins.  All the little nooks and crannies, as they call them, are really a perfect base for pizza.  The sauce runs down into the nooks and crannies, and when it toasts up in the oven, taking a bite out of the pizza and tasting the crunchy English muffin and finding pockets of delicious sauce is a great surprise.  Each half of the English muffin becomes one mini-pizza crust.

A Margherita pizza traditionally consists of basil, tomato and mozzarella cheese.  It’s so named a Margherita pizza after Queen Margherita of Italy who was served such a pizza resembling the colors of the flag of Italy (green – basil; white – cheese; red – tomato).  Because we were making mini pizzas, we needed to make sure that we didn’t overload the pizza with toppings.  In order to get really thinly sliced tomatoes for the topping, we decided to break out our mandoline, which actually worked perfectly for this purpose.

Start by determining how many mini-pizzas you want to make.  Consider that each mini-pizza is probably just slightly less than what a slice of pizza at your local pizza joint would be.  Split apart the English muffins and lay them out on a baking sheet.  If like your crust to get super crispy, you can pop the baking sheet in the oven for a few minutes to start to get crusty.  Don’t put it in for too long though because you’ll be toasting the muffins again later and you don’t want them to burn before your pizza’s had a chance to cook.

It’s time to create pizza sauce.  If you happen to have a pizza sauce already, or store-bought sauce, by all means, use that.  If you need to create pizza sauce, it’s super simple to whip up.  All you need is some tomato sauce and a little bit of tomato paste.  The tomato paste gives the sauce that extra kick of strong tomato flavor, as well as acts as a thickening agent to your runny tomato sauce.  Add some freshly minced garlic cloves, throw in some garlic powder, dried oregano, dried parsley and dried basil for the herby flavor of pizza sauce and heat it up slightly in a saucepan so that the flavors all come together.  No need to heat it all the way through as the pizza will be finished in the oven and the sauce will get plenty hot then.

Ladle the pizza sauce over the English muffin halves.  Try to refrain from overloading your muffin halves with pizza sauce.  These are mini-pizzas and any flavor you add to them becomes strong and more intense because they are so small.  You also don’t want to drown your pizza in sauce either.  So a thin layer of sauce is all you need.

On top of the pizza sauce, add some mozzarella cheese.  The cheese will help to bind the sauce to the muffin half as well as bind the toppings to the pizza as well.  And really, you can never have enough cheese.

It’s now time for the tomatoes you thinly sliced earlier.  You can see that these muffins don’t have much surface area, if you slice the tomato too thickly, it’ll be hard to eat and really will overwhelm the size of the pizza you’re creating.  One or two thinly sliced tomatoes should be more than plenty for each English muffin half.

The final step is for the green in your red, white and green creation.  Take a basil leaf, or two and stop each pizza.  Leaving the leaves whole adds a nice pop of color to the pizza.  You can also slice up your basil as well if you’d like.  And really, when you’re making a Margherita pizza, you really need to use fresh basil as opposed to the dried basil.  Don’t worry about the size of the basil leaf on your pizza.  Like most greens, after coming into contact with heat from the oven, the basil leaf will wilt to half its size.

When you’ve built all of your mini pizzas, take the whole baking sheet and stick it in your pre-heated oven.  You can see that just before the pizzas went into the oven, we added just a little bit more mozzarella on top!

The pizzas should only take about 12-15 minutes to cook.  Once the cheese has melted and started to turn a nice golden brown, the pizzas are done.  They’ll come out of the oven bubbly and hot and the muffins will be perfectly toasty and crunchy.

Margherita pizza never tasted so good.  From start to finish, a whole tray full of Margherita pizzas can be done in 25-30 minutes.  Dinner, hot, bubbly and cheesy right out of the oven and into your mouth!

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 16, 2012 12:51 am

    Yummy yummy. What a pity that we just yesterday ate pizza. I will remember Your post, because I love it.

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