Mary Anne's Family Margherita Pizza

Having twelve children to feed was always a challenge for my mother, Betty Sposato, especially children who loved pizza! Not having much time to prepare the dough for eight to ten pizzas on pizza night, mother would make the dough using hot roll mixes that came in a box. It was easy, quite tasty, and a real time-saver. The toppings would vary, but the crust was always the same, "molto squisito," very delicious!

1 Hot Roll Mix (We love the flavor and texture of Pillsbury Specialty Mix)
1-28 ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand
Extra virgin, first cold-pressed olive oil or garlic olive oil
1-2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 8-ounce ball fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, sliced thin, or more
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 bunch fresh basil, snipped
Jelly roll or large cookie sheet

-Follow the instructions on the side of the Pillsbury box and set aside.
-Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Begin by making the tomato sauce. In a large saute' pan over medium heat; add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the minced garlic, and Italian seasoning. Cook until just fragrant; then add the crushed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Lower the heat and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes to reduce and concentrate the flavor. Shut off the heat and set aside.
-Take the jelly roll or large cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil over the entire surface and spread covering the entire surface. Remove excess olive oil with a paper towel.
-Cut the dough into 2 pieces if making two thin-crust pizzas. Reserve one section for second pizza.
(Note: this recipe is for one thick-crust pizza. If making two thin crusts, double ingredients and divide them between the two pizzas).
-Stretch the pizza dough out so it is just bigger than the pan, then lay it inside the pan, so the dough comes up the sides to form a crust on the rim. Lightly spread olive oil over surface of dough making sure to brush the rim of the pizza. Spread the pizza sauce evenly onto the pizza. Scatter the fresh buffalo mozzarella evenly over the top of the pizza. Spread the basil leaves over the top and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, then bake in the hot oven until golden and bubbly, about 15 to 18 minutes.
-Remove from the oven, cut into slices and serve. Serves approximately 6.

Note: I love the flavor of the fresh buffalo mozzarella, but you can also use shredded mozzarella if you want. If using hamburger or sausage, be sure to drain and rinse meat to get rid of most of the fat. When tomatoes are in season, you can use them if you want.