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Dennis the Prescott's Margherita Pizza

Dennis the Prescott's Margherita Pizza

By Dennis The Prescott

Dennis the Prescott boosts the flavor of his pizza sauce with aromatic ingredients like lemon zest and black pepper for a new take on classic Margherita pizza. The sauce makes 3 ½ cups, but it will keep covered in the fridge for a couple days and is delicious on pasta as well. It can also be portioned and frozen or easily cut in half to make less.

Prep Time

25 Min

Cook Time

15 Min




Number of People Serving


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Units of Measurment:
Tomato Sauce
1/4 Cup olive oil
1/2 Spanish onion, finely diced
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoon minced basil stems
2 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 Teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
2 Teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 Teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 Cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
All-purpose flour, for dusting
8 Ounce homemade pizza dough, such Traeger Quick Pizza Dough, or store-bought pizza dough, warmed to room temperature
Semolina flour, for dusting
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 Ounce fresh mozzarella, preferably buffalo
6 fresh basil leaves


  • 1

    For the sauce: In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium-heat. Add the onion, season with a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, basil stems, tomato paste, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, for 45 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon salt, and the cracked black pepper. Let the sauce come to a simmer, then cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and bubbly, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and basil leaves. Let cool to room temperature before using or storing, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 days. The sauce may also be portioned and frozen for up to 2 months.

  • 2

    When ready to cook, place a pizza stone or steel directly on the bottom grate of the Traeger. Preheat the stone and the grill with the lid closed to 500°F (450°F if that’s the highest your grill goes); this will take at least 15 minutes. Once the grill had reached temperature, continue to heat for another 5 minutes to fully heat the stone.

    500 ˚F / 260 ˚C

  • 3

    Meanwhile, prepare the pizza. Flour a work surface and place the dough ball on it. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle the top with a small amount of flour. Press your fingers into the center of the dough ball to start to flatten it. Leaving about a 1-inch border at the edge for the crust, continue to press the dough out toward the edges. Lift the dough off the work surface and place it over the backs of your two closed hands. Using your knuckles, stretch the dough slightly, rotating to form and even round shape 10 to 12 inches across. (If the dough pulls back while stretching and does not retain its shape, cover with a kitchen towel, and let it rest for 10 minutes to relax, and then proceed.)

  • 4

    Very generously sprinkle semolina flour or another flour onto the peel. Transfer the dough to the peel. Using the back of a spoon and leaving a 1-inch border at the edge, spread about ¼ cup of the sauce over the dough. Drizzle a little olive oil over the sauce. Tear or slice the mozzarella and scatter it over the sauce, along with the basil leaves, torn if you like. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Give the peel a small shake to make sure the dough moves easily; add more flour under the dough if needed.

  • 5

    With the handle of the peel angled slightly up, place the front of the peel toward the back of the hot pizza stone. Slide the Margherita pizza onto the stone by thrusting the peel forward a tiny bit and then quickly pulling it back in a swift and confident movement. Close the grill lid and cook the pizza undisturbed for 15 minutes. (There is no need to turn it during cooking.) Check on the pizza; it’s done when the edges are golden brown, the cheese has melted, and the bottom is cooked through; this can take 15 to 20 minutes total depending on the weather and your grill.

    500 ˚F / 260 ˚C


  • 6

    Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a cutting board and let it cool slightly before slicing. Enjoy!

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