5 Pizza Recipes From Rome-Based Culinary Expert Katie Parla

5 Pizza Recipes From Rome-Based Culinary Expert Katie Parla
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Rome-based culinary historian, New York Times-bestselling cookbook author, and Emmy-nominated television host Katie Parla shares a few recipes for making the perfect pizza

Piyali Sen
February 08 , 2022
08 Min Read

Katie Parla has written and edited more than 20 books, including Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City, and the New York Times bestseller - The Joy of Pizza, co-authored with Razza chef/owner Dan Richer. 

In her book Food of the Italian South, Parla sets out to challenge the pasta-heavy, tomato-flavoured concept of 'Italian food'  that is prevalent in most places outside Italy. As she says, "in most cultures, exploring food means exploring history—and the Italian south has plenty of both to offer."  She showcases much loved and widespread culinary traditions that hail from the regional cuisines of the south of Italy. And takes you on a tour through these vibrant destinations, sharing rich recipes, both original and reimagined, along with historical and cultural insights that encapsulate the miles of rugged beaches, sheep-dotted mountains, meditatively quiet towns, and, most important, culinary traditions unique to this precious piece of Italy.

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You can read about her journey from America studying art history at Yale to settling down in Rome here

We asked her to share a few recipes for authetic Italian pizza, and she was more than happy to do so. Here they are: 

Impasto per la Pizza Napoletana

(Neapolitan-Style Pizza Dough)

Thick-rimmed Neapolitan-style pizza has become synonymous with Italy, and it is arguably the country’s most famous export. In Naples, as elsewhere, this popular food is baked in a domed word-burning oven, but this recipe has been adapted for your home oven so you can enjoy the chewy crust and elastic dough of pizza napoletana in your own home—though if you can, take a trip to Naples for the real deal. Plan ahead to make this pizza, as the cold, slow rise in the refrigerator takes at least 20 hours. Recipes for a classic Margherita pizza and three pizzas inspired by the south and its famed pizza makers follow.

Makes enough dough for four 9-inch pizzas

590 grams (5 scant cups) bread flour

1¾ grams (1/2 rounded teaspoon) active dry yeast

380 grams (about 1 ½ cups) cold filtered water

12 grams (2 teaspoons) sea salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, yeast, and the cold water. Mix on the lowest speed until the dough just comes together and there is no more dry flour in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to hydrate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Return the bowl to the stand mixer and mix on medium speed. Add the salt and mix for 20 minutes more to build strength and until the dough is very smooth and elastic.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface work surface, shape it into a tight ball, and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at 39ºF to 41ºF for at least 20 hours and up to 30 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, allowing it to gently release from the bowl, and cut it into 4 equal pieces, weighing about 250 grams (9 ounces) each, with a dough scraper or knife.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, take the four corners and pull and fold them into the center. Do not flatten. The dough will tighten up and take on a round shape. Flip the dough seam-side down. Place the palm of your hand on top of the ball, resting your thumb and pinkie against the sides and your other fingertips on the counter. Gently move the ball in circles, taking care to prevent any tears to create a tight, even ball. Repeat this process with the remaining dough pieces. Place the shaped dough balls on a greased baking sheet. Brush lightly with oil and cover the whole baking sheet with plastic wrap. Set aside at room temperature until the dough has nearly doubled in size, about 2 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat the broiler to high and set an inverted baking sheet or a baking stone on the center rack to preheat as well.

Place one dough ball on a well-floured surface, then sprinkle more flour on top. Starting in the center, work the dough into a small disc by pushing your fingers flat into the dough, leaving the edge untouched. Flip over the disc and continue until you have a round disc about 8 inches in diameter.

To stretch the dough to the desired size, drape it over the back of your hands and knuckles, fingers bent inward. Gently rotate the dough, stretching it little by little until it is around 12 inches in diameter.

Transfer the shaped dough to a pizza peel or a parchment paper–lined inverted baking sheet (see Note). Top as directed in the recipe of your choice (see pages 000–000) and transfer the pizza to the preheated baking sheet or baking stone. Bake until the crust is lightly charred around the edges and the toppings are cooked, 4 to 6 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough balls, allowing the oven and the pizza stone or baking sheet to reheat for 10 to 15 minutes before baking the next pizza.

Serve immediately.

TIP: A baking stone will give your pizza a better crust, better volume, and incomparable lightness. If you do not have one, an inverted baking sheet or unglazed quarry tiles will work as substitutes. For the best results, preheat the stone or inverted baking sheet on the center rack for at least 45 minutes before baking your pizza. Recipe cooking times depending upon your baking surface and will be shorter if you use a stone.

Pizza Margherita

(Margherita Pizza)

The south’s most iconic pizza features cow’s-milk mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil.

Makes one 9-inch pizza

Dough for 1 pizza crust

3½ ounces canned whole tomatoes

Sea salt

Pinch of dried oregano

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4½ ounces mozzarella, cut into ½-inch cubes, excess water squeezed out

5 fresh basil leaves

Place the tomatoes in a medium bowl and blend with an immersion blender until they are broken down to a chunky puree. Season with salt, oregano, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

Spoon the tomato sauce over the pizza dough to the edge of the raised border, then distribute the mozzarella evenly. Bake. Garnish with the basil leaves and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

 

Pizza dell’Alto Casertano

(Alto Casertano Pizza)

Inspired by Franco Pepe’s dessert pizza at Pepe in Grani (see page 000), the toppings evoke the flavor of Franco’s native subregion of Campania.

Makes one 9-inch pizza

Dough for 1 pizza crust

1½ tablespoons lard

¼ cup fig jam

½ cup finely grated Conciato Romano or Pecorino Romano

Freshly ground black

Shape the dough as directed on page 000. Spread the lard over the pizza dough to the edge of the raised border. Bake. Drizzle the fig jam over the melted lard, dust with the Conciato Romano, and season with pepper.

La Marinara Rivisitata di Attilio

(Attilio’s Marinara Pizza)

At Pizzeria Attilio, a pizzeria in Naples that opened in 1938, pizzaiolo Attilio Bachetti customizes the classic marinara pie, adding Pecorino Romano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and basil leaves to the classic tomato and garlic toppings.

Makes one 9-inch pizza

Dough for 1 pizza crust 

3½ ounces canned whole tomatoes

Sea salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ garlic clove, sliced paper thin

2 teaspoons finely grated Pecorino Romano

2 teaspoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

5 fresh basil leaves

Place the tomatoes in a medium bowl and blend with an immersion blender until they are broken down to a chunky puree. Season with salt and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spoon the tomato sauce over the pizza dough to the edge of the raised border, then distribute the garlic evenly. Bake. Sprinkle the pizza with the Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano Reggiano, garnish with the basil leaves, and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Pizza con ‘Nduja e Fior di Latte

(‘Nduja and Mozzarella Pizza)

Calabrian ingredients meet Campanian ones on this pie topped with a spicy spreadable salami and mozzarella made from buffalo milk.

Makes one 9-inch pizza

Dough for 1 pizza crust 

2 ounces canned whole tomatoes

Sea salt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4½ ounces mozzarella, cut into ½-inch cubes, excess water squeezed out

3 ounces ‘nduja

5 fresh basil leaves

Place the tomatoes in a medium bowl and blend with an immersion blender until they are broken down into a chunky puree. Season with salt and the olive oil. Spoon the tomato sauce over the pizza dough to the edge of the raised border, then distribute the mozzarella and ‘nduja evenly over the sauce. Bake. Garnish with the basil leaves.


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