Tomato-Basil Pizza
Four to six servings
I’m a big fan of pieces of roasted garlic on my pizza. But depending how juicy your tomatoes are, you want to make sure the garlic gets cooked and softened, but not charred. I often slice the garlic when using smaller tomatoes, because they cook much more quickly. With larger tomatoes, you might want to quarter the garlic lengthwise of even just slice them in half, depending on the size of the garlic. In any case, if the pieces of garlic seem to be getting too dark, either pluck them out or tuck the pieces under some of the tomatoes that are cut-side down so they don’t burn.There are various kinds of mozzarella with various moisture contents. I used fresh mozzarella, as shown, which you should blot dry before using. Depending on what cheese you use, if you’re concerned about excessive moisture, feel free to use less.
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds (about 1.25kg) small-to-medium sized fresh tomatoes, sliced in half
3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and quartered lengthwise or thickly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional oil for the pizza
12 branches of fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces fresh pizza dough
8 ounces (240g) mozzarella cheese, sliced
One bunch of fresh basil
Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
2. On a non-stick baking sheet (or one lined with parchment paper) that’s large enough to hold the tomatoes in a single layer, toss together the tomatoes with the garlic, olive oil, thyme, bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. (I usually finds it takes a bit more salt than I think, but you can add more salt after roasting.)
3. Roast in the oven for 1 hour, checking midway during roasting to make sure the garlic isn’t burning. If the tomatoes are getting overly dark on the bottom, turn them gently with a spatula.
4. After one hour, turn off oven and leave tomatoes in the oven until oven cools completely. Roasting time will vary depending on the size of tomatoes; just roast them until they’ve given up their juices, as shown in the picture in the post.
(Tomatoes can be roasted up to three days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen in freezer bags for several months.)
5. To make the pizza, preheat the oven to 450ºF (235ºC) and place a heavy baking sheet on rack on the lower third of the oven.
6. On a lightly floured surface, roll and stretch the pizza dough into a 14-inch (36 cm) circle. Place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper.
7. Brush the dough with a thin layer of olive oil. Drain the tomatoes well (reserve the liquid for a vinaigrette or soup), then distribute the tomatoes and garlic over the dough. Put the mozzarella slices over the tomatoes, then place a dozen fresh basil leaves on top of the pizza and grate some Parmesan over the top.
8. Transfer the pizza to the baking sheet by grabbing the hot baking sheet out of the oven (wearing an oven mitt to avoid burning yourself) and slide the pizza onto the hot baking sheet.
9. Return the pizza to the oven and bake for 10 to 20 minutes (see Note), until the pizza is baked to your liking; the bottom crust should be crisp and the top should be slightly browned and bubbling.
10. Remove from the oven and strew chopped fresh basil over the top along with a generous sprinkling of additional grated Parmesan cheese.

Variations: You can use a different cheese if you wish. Fresh goat cheese, smoked mozzarella, or a semi-soft cheese like Fontina work well on pizza. You could also add bits of bacon or prosciutto to the pizza.

Note: Ovens vary greatly in terms of heat and browning ability. Very hot temperatures are recommended for pizza, although small home ovens often lack that power. So I encourage you to bake the pizza at a very hot temperature, but monitor it while baking and move it about the oven to cook the top and bottom evenly. (If using a pizza stone, they generally bake best on the bottom of the oven.)