Pizza marinara

Pizza marinara

The Amalfi Coast
Helen Cathcart

This is one of the simplest pizza toppings, consisting of tomatoes, basil, garlic and oregano. Despite its name it does not contain any fish but instead was invented for the marinari (sailors), who took bread and preserved tomatoes onto the boats. The high crust forms a harbour wall to the sea of tomato sauce. You can add various other toppings, such as mushrooms, mussels or whitebait, but never cheese or it ceases to be a marinara.

For the dough


Quantity Ingredient
500g ‘00’ or plain flour
2 heaped teaspoons salt
10-15g fresh yeast
or 7g dried yeast
300ml tepid water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to coat the dough balls

For the tomato sauce

Quantity Ingredient
400g canned italian plum tomatoes
1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
a handful basil, to garnish


  1. Start by making the dough. In a large bowl, mix the flour and ingredients together using your hands or a dough scraper. Blend the fresh yeast into a little of the water before adding it to the flour. Pour in the olive oil followed straight away by the tepid water.
  2. Mix the ingredients together using the scraper or the fingertips of one hand until you have a ball of dough. Depending on the strength and absorbency of the flour you may need to add a little more water to obtain a so, pliable dough that is neither too sticky nor too hard. Do not be tempted to add more flour as a wetter, lighter dough makes a better base.
  3. When you are happy with the consistency, tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead it by stretching, folding and turning it. The dough will snap and break at the start but after a few minutes it will have developed more elasticity. Knead the dough fast and rhythmically for about 10 minutes, until it bounces back to the touch – you should be slightly out of breath with the effort for 10 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into 4 even-sized pieces. To do this accurately, weigh the dough, divide the figure by 4 and then weigh each piece, adding or removing dough as necessary. Roll into balls.
  5. Gently wipe a thin layer of olive oil onto the surface of each ball and lay onto a floured deep-sided container such as a lasagne dish. Cover with clingfilm or a dampened tea towel and leave to prove until the dough balls are doubled in size. You can do this at room temperature or for a better flavour, put them in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  6. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Put the tomatoes in a bowl and squash them with your hands or blend with a hand-blender. Add the oregano and salt, and stir well. The sauce does not need to cook as it will cook on the pizza.
  7. Preheat the oven to its honest temperature – a pizza oven is heated to about 400°C, so the nearer you can get to this temperature, the better. Turn 2 oven trays upside down and slide into the oven to pre-heat. This will mimic the hot stove of a pizza oven and will make it easier to shunt the pizzas onto them. A‰fter the dough has proved, use a rolling pin or your hands to stretch each dough ball into a 25 cm circle, or until the dough is about 5 mm thick using plenty of flour to prevent it sticking.
  8. Transfer the base to a flat board or ‘peel’ (a flat wooden board) that has been lightly floured and top with the tomato sauce, leaving a border of at least 2 cm all around. Scatter the chopped garlic over and splash with a little olive oil. Shunt the pizza quickly into the oven and close the door.
  9. The pizza should be ready a‰fter about 7–8 minutes – it is always best to slightly overcook rather than undercook your pizza to avoid a doughy base. Remove from the oven and leave for 2 minutes before slicing and eating.

A note on oven temperatures:

  • It has been assumed throughout that a fan-forced oven is being used. Please adjust your temperatures to 20°C higher if you are using a conventional oven.
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