Pizza recipes are as diverse as the people who eat them. Variations in sauces, toppings and crust styles make this dish infinitely customizable. A little trick I’ve learned that enhances the flavor is adding fresh herbs. I either scatter herbs on the crust before adding the sauce and toppings or toss a few over the top after the pie is finished baking.
Basil – A tender annual, basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow. Plant basil after the soil has warmed in late spring. Give the plants full sun, plenty of water and fertilize every 2 or 3 weeks. Harvest regularly and pinch off flower spikes so they don’t produce seed and you should be able to harvest right up to the first frost.
Oregano – Plant oregano where it can spill over a wall, into a path or over the edge of a container. Give full sun; in the South it needs afternoon shade, very well-drained soil and a moderate amount of fertilizer. The flavor is strongest just before it blooms, but you can snip the leaves at any time.
Thyme – Thyme prefers full sun and well-drained soil and grows well as a ground cover or in a rock garden. Fertilize several times during the growing season. You can begin harvesting the first year by snipping sparingly until the plants have gained some size.
Flat Leaf Parsley – Also known as Italian parsley, this parsley has flat, serrated leaves and a slightly spicier taste that curled parsley. Grow in full sun or part shade in moist, well-drained soil. Harvest the mature outer leaves regularly to increase production. Use in containers or as an edging for beds and borders.
Marjoram – Sweet marjoram is a low growing plant that makes a nice ground cover or edging. Plant it after the danger of frost is past in full sun to part shade in well-drained soil. Harvest leaves as needed. Marjoram keeps its full flavor after it is dried.
When the summer harvest is coming in and I have plenty tomatoes and fresh herbs, I like to cook a pizza with this simple sauce.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 6 plum tomatoes, peeled and minced
- 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until tender.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer on low for 30 minutes to an hour.
Brush your pizza crust with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh herbs. Remove bay leaf and spread sauce over herbs. Add meat or cheese if you wish and bake. Alternatively, wait to add the fresh herbs until after the pizza is done. This will help keep their flavors bright.