This is my version of Pizza Margherita, with the traditional hand-crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella slices, and fresh basil.
While some versions leave the basil leaves whole, which is very pretty, I prefer to shred the basil, so there's some in every bite.
1 Basic All-Purpose Pizza Crust (12-inch) or Thin Pizza Crust (12-inch) (or your favorite 12-inch pizza crust)
1 can (14.5 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), undrained
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, shredded
6 to 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare the pizza crust and press into a 12-inch pizza pan, or form it into a 12-inch round on a baking sheet, with the edges slightly thicker to contain the toppings.
Meanwhile, crush the drained tomatoes, either by hand, through a food mill, with a potato masher, or in a blender or food processor. Do not completely puree the tomatoes. They should be somewhat chunky. Retain any juice from the tomatoes, as it will be part of the sauce.
In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over low to medium-low heat. Add the garlic, and saute for a minute or two until fragrant. Do not let the garlic get brown.
Add the crushed tomatoes and their juice to the saucepan, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Raise heat to medium-high, and bring the tomato mixture almost to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, over low to medium-low heat, for 25-35 minutes, until the sauce is thickened and reduced.
Spread the sauce evenly over the crust, and then sprinkle evenly with the basil.
Arrange the mozzarella slices evenly over the pizza.
Bake for 12-18 minutes, until golden.
Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing
-- 3-4 servings