Dinner in a Gift Basket: Margherita Pizza
Remember when I told you about my friend whose neighbor gifted them with a “pasta night” basket to welcome them into the neighborhood? Ever since, I’ve been all about the idea, and coming up with different renditions of it. The sentiment feels so much more thoughtful and creative than the still-thoughtful typical gift basket of, say, wine and chocolate.
Food for thought: everyone loves pizza, and particularly, everyone loves margherita pizza.
A few months ago, I had my first Roberta’s experience in Bushwick, Brooklyn. To anyone who ever has the opportunity, go there, and eat pizza. Unsurprisingly, based off the thousands of people who say the same thing, Roberta’s was the best pizza I’ve ever had.
To my delight, I recently found their margherita pizza recipe on The New York Times, and like so many unicorn-esque dishes, the recipe was mind-blowingly simple, and no doubt largely dependent on some soulful, special hands to prepare it.
The simplicity led me to wonder why we don’t try our hands at homemade pizza more often. I think it’s because it feels like something that requires day-of grocery shopping, or some level of preparedness. Otherwise, it’s quick and easy to throw together… so why not think ahead sometimes and plan for it?!
Which brings me back to this homemade pizza night gift basket! How sweet is this? I love the idea of giving this to a friend who loves cooking, or a family with little kids to help make the pizza, or as a hostess gift, or as a sweet little house warming gift to kick off the first home cooked meal in a new kitchen.
It doesn’t require much - just a trip to the grocery store. Many of the ingredients are pantry items, or dry goods, which makes it even easier to put together.
Here’s how I did it
I first wrote out Roberta’s pizza recipe (as well as their dough recipe - which I simplified into all purpose flour for this basket - but would stick to it exactly for a better replication of the real thing) on some thick card stock, and folded them into a little envelope. PS: of course, you could use a family recipe or another favorite pizza recipe, instead!
Meanwhile, I made note of all the supplies I’d need to get my hands on, if I didn’t already have them:
Active dry yeast
Extra Virgin olive oil
Parmigiano Reggiano- although it isn’t actually called for in the recipe, it’s too good to leave out
Recipe card and envelope, if you’d like
Wire basket or other vessel
Glass jars for flour, salt, and olive oil*
*I thought it would make the basket feel more special if I added a couple of sweet little touches, which is why I packaged some of the items into reusable glass jars, as well as threw in a cream colored cloth towel and a wooden spoon for stirring the sauce. None of these are necessary, of course. Alternatively, you could add a bottle of wine or something sweet for dessert if you wanted.
I wrote flour and sea salt on the gift tags, and used baker’s twine to secure them to their respective jars. I poured a bit of olive oil into its assigned jar, along with the flour and salt. I took the basil out of the plastic it came in and wrapped the bottom in plastic wrap with a little water in it. I also took the Parmesan out of its package, although you don’t have to. I loved the rustic appearance of the can of tomatoes, and I didn’t want to jeopardize their shelf life, but you could of course use your own jar if you wanted to.
When you’re ready to assemble the basket, lay the tissue paper in the bottom of the basket. Place the larger items first, and leave out until the last minute anything that requires refrigeration. Place the taller items such as the spoon and basil toward the back of the basket, and finish it off by piling in the smaller items. Make sure the recipe card is sticking out and legible - it’s the one item that ties everything together :)