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Fresh tomatoes and basil top easy-fix pizza margherita

How many ways can you love pizza? Let us count the ways.

With summer winding down here in the Ocean State, we’re trying to use up those garden veggies. And, faced with a deluge of tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, and green beans cropping up in one’s backyard garden, it’s often a challenge to keep up with the harvest. Everything seems to come ripe for picking all at once.

One delicious way to use these fresh vegetables is as a topping for your favorite pizza. If you favor a traditional tomato-sauce-topped pizza, why not sprinkle on some fresh sliced zucchini, broccoli, onion, and/or garlic? Or, if you lean toward a white pizza – no red sauce – some fresh spinach is a wonderful combination topping along with some good fresh shredded cheese, such as Mozzarella or Jarlsberg. For best results, grate your own cheese from a chunk you buy at the market. It’s natural, without all those long-winded additives that you find in the pre-packaged shredded cheeses.

A delicious pizza that’s a snap to make is put together using unbaked dough that you purchase at the supermarket. Use either a refrigerated 10-ounce can of dough, or the unbaked dough – either white or whole wheat – that comes in a plastic wrapping. It all goes together in minutes, and is delectable as a lunch or dinner item.

Easy Pizza Margherita

White or whole wheat pizza dough to fit 11x13-inch pan (refrigerated 10-ounce can, OR store bought unbaked dough)

1 teaspoon olive oil, divided

1 clove garlic, halved

Sliced fresh tomatoes to fit crust (5 or 6 tomatoes)

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1/3 to 1/2 cup sliced fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread dough onto baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray to fit an 11x13-inch rectangle. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove pan from oven; brush crust with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Rub with cut garlic.

Arrange tomato slices on crust. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust browns and is set. In bowl, whisk together remaining olive oil and vinegar. Drizzle over pizza top. Cut into pieces to serve. Makes 4 servings.