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"I received a great gift for my birthday—a vegetable and sweets cookbook written in Italy the year I was born," says Rach. This recipe, a pizza-like crust topped with red sauce and Mornay sauce (bechamel with cheese), is based on one she found in the book. As she explains, "I tried my best to translate and convert the recipe. Here we go!"
Preheat oven to 450°F, with rack at center.
For the crust, cut the flour with butter, then add cold water and salt, form dough and knead. Wrap and chill 30 minutes. Roll out dough into 12-inch disc on floured surface and place on sprayed baking tray or pizza pan. Weight the top of dough with dried beans on parchment. Bake to brown edges and crisp.
For the red sauce, heat EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add garlic and swirl a minute, add chopped fresh or canned tomatoes, passata, bay, parsley, salt and pepper, then simmer 15 to 20 minutes to thicken and smooth the sauce. Add a few small leaves of basil, torn, and remove bay.
While the red sauce cooks, melt butter in saucepan for Mornay sauce. Whisk in flour and warm milk and add a few grates of nutmeg and white pepper. Add the grated cheese or cheeses and taste to adjust seasoning. Funnel thickened sauce into a squeeze bottle with top heavily trimmed to widen nozzle.
Spread sauce on crust to the edges and top with a generous swirl of Mornay sauce and the basil sprig.