Tomato season has arrived here in Ontario and I couldn’t be happier. To say I’m a tomato fan would be an understatement. Since day one, I’ve been a tomato sandwich (with plenty of mayo, please and thank you) fan. Bruschetta is my love language and the Caprese is my go-to starter at any Italian restaurant. I adore tomatoes especially peak tomatoes. So, when tomato season rolls around, I want to add tomatoes to everything but I want to do almost nothing to them. It’s a bit of a conundrum really. But dishes like this Fresh Heirloom Tomato Pizza are the perfect workaround. This bad boy makes a meal out of tomatoes, without masking any of their considerable attributes.
Okay, so what are you looking at here? You’re looking at a sheet pan pizza topped with tomato sauce and arguably too much cheese. Yes, this is a cheese pizza and no, I’m not sorry. There really is something to be said for the simplicity of a good cheese pizza, but I digress. So yes, this is a cheese pizza with a homemade marinara sauce and a sesame seed coated crust topped with thick slices of heirloom tomatoes. The pizza is finished with fresh basil leaves and garlic chive blossoms.
When developing this recipe, I wanted to make sure the tomatoes at no point entered the oven. I have nothing against roasting tomatoes. I love a good blistered cherry tomato as much as the next girl. But when you have big, beautiful, in-season heirloom tomatoes, you want to experience them unadulterated in surround sound. So in this recipe, the tomato slices are placed on top of the hot pizza and that’s it. If you can pop the slices on the pizza while the cheese is still molten, you will find the tomatoes will actually adhere to the cheese, which makes for a tidier eating experience. So be swift with your slices.
Now, on top of those thick tomatoes slices are fresh basil leaves and garlic chive blossoms. I have so many garlic chives in my front garden right now that I find myself putting them on everything. The scallop aguachile from the other day is one such dish. But if you are not inundated with garlic chives as I am, you can feel free to leave them off or add your favorite edible blooms in their stead.
There are a few toppings that are non-negotiable, though. And those toppings are salt and pepper. Salt and pepper just belong on raw tomato. Whether they appear in a salad or on a piece of toast, wherever tomatoes go salt and pepper should never be far behind. So if you make this pizza, I would highly recommend having your S and P shakers handy.
Now, let’s talk about what the recipe below entails. Below you will find my go-to recipe for pizza dough and my favorite marinara. If you’re not a person who is particularly gung-ho about baking, you can absolutely sub the dough for your favorite store-bought variety. But if you’re on the fence, I can assure you this dough is very low-maintenance. It even rises in the pan it bakes in and only takes five ingredients to make. So if you’re thinking of getting into bread-making, this recipe is a very good place to start.
This Fresh Heirloom Tomato Pizza is also sporting a homemade marinara, which is also incredibly easy to pull together. Essentially, all you have to do is saute some garlic with crushed red pepper flakes and fennel seeds before adding a can of whole tomatoes. Then you basically leave them to get to know each other. The sauce cooks down to half its volume and you give everything a blitz and then you have pizza sauce. In fact, you have pizza sauce for three pizzas of this size. But don’t sweat over the excess, the sauce freezes beautifully.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Fresh Heirloom Tomato Pizza. It has all the cheesy, depth of the pizza you crave but with that distinct hit of freshness that only tomatoes provide. This is seriously my favorite pizza right now, so I hope you give it a try.
Fresh Heirloom Tomato Pizza with Fresh Basil
- 18×13" baking sheet
- Stand mixer with dough hook
- 1½ cups luke warm water
- 2 ¼ tsp dry active yeast
- 1/2 cup olive oil divided
- 2½ tsp kosher salt
- 3 – 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 (796ml, 27 fl oz) can whole tomatoes
- 1 tsp demara sugar
- 2 tbsp fresh basil chiffonade
Fresh Heirloom Tomato Pizza
- 1 (340g, 12 oz) ball mozzarella shredded
- sesame seeds for sprinkling
- 4-5 heirloom tomatoes sliced thick
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves tightly packed
- salt and pepper
- garlic chive blossoms** for sprinkling
For the Dough
- Pour the warm water into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water and let stand for 10 minutes or until foamy.
- Add the salt, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and two cups of the flour. Turn the mixer on to low and knead until a loose dough forms.
- Once the dough starts to come together, start adding the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments. Only add enough flour to form a silky, slightly tacky dough, that readily cleans the sides of the mixing bowl. Place the dough on a well-floured surface and knead for 5-7 minutes or until the dough feels smooth and elastic.
- Drizzle half of the remaining olive oil onto the baking sheet and use a pastry brush to ensure the oil is evenly dispersed. Place the dough in the center and stretch it to form a roughly rectangular shape. Drizzle the surface of the dough with the last of the olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for an hour and a half or until doubled in size.
For the Sauce
- Pour the olive oil into a large skillet and place over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and fennel seeds and saute until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste and saute for 30 seconds more.
- Pour in the canned tomatoes and break them up a bit with the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in the sugar and bring the mixture up to a boil before reducing to a simmer. Let cook for 20 minutes or until reduced by half. Taste and season with salt accordingly.
- Take the sauce off of the heat and stir in the basil. Transfer the sauce to a large food processor and carefully blitz until smooth. Pour the sauce into a bowl and set it aside to cool.
For the Pizza
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Stretch the proofed dough to more or less fit the parameters of the baking sheet it rose in. Build the dough up on the side to form a crust.
- Spread a third of the sauce all over the dough and sprinkle the crust with sesame seeds. Top the marinara with the mozzarella and pop the pizza in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes rotating once halfway through.
- Once the cheese is golden and bubbly, take the pizza out of the oven and immediately top it with the tomato slices. Add the basil leaves and garlic chives blossoms and finish the dish with salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately.