Pizza Margherita

A simple classic that never gets old. (Los Angeles Times/Jay L. Clendenin)

This versatile dish works great as an appetizer or a main meal. The sauce is also good for dipping and can be quickly simmered for use over pasta.

Total time: 35 minutes, plus heating time for the oven Servings: makes 2 (10- to 12-inch) pizzas, about 12 slices

Note: The tomato sauce recipe makes 3 cups sauce, a little more than is needed for two pizzas. The remainder can be covered and refrigerated for up to one week. The dough makes enough for four pizzas. Leftover dough can be stored in the freezer in a tightly sealed bag for up to 1 month.

Basic tomato sauce:
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons pitted and chopped kalamata olives, from about 10 whole
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor or a blender and add the basil, oregano, garlic, olives and pepper. Pulse the sauce until thoroughly combined and smooth. Taste the sauce and season as needed (canned tomatoes will vary widely in sodium content, resulting in some sauces that require less salt than others). Remove the sauce to a bowl, lightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. This makes about 3 cups tomato sauce.

Basic pizza dough:
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons sugar or honey
4 cups (19 ounces) bread flour, divided, plus more for kneading
1 package active-dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil