If there’s one kind of ‘fast’ food I adore more than anything else it’s pizza. I would eat pizza every day if I didn’t think I’d end up looking like the over-inflated Aunt Marge in Harry Potter. It is – essentially – bread and cheese with additional toppings. It’s versatile and can adjust with the seasons and the mood that you’re in – the vegetables you use, the herbs that provide the sauce’s flavour, the cheese(s) you use…
I’m getting distracted just thinking about it.
We’ve all had a bad experience with cheap and nasty pizza, and everyone has a flavour that just gives them the shivers (ham and pineapple – just why? Gross), but when pizza is done properly I believe it is a true delight.
Is there much more of a delight that sitting at the end of a busy week with a slice of pizza in one hand and a beer/glass of wine in the other? Tie it in with some good chat and I’m there in a flash.
But pizza is such an effort to make and is full of additives/associated crap, people tell me. And I tell them that they are simply not doing it right. It does take a little while, but it’s not intensive in any way and can easily be prepped in advance and put to work when you need it – the dough recipe I used even suggests making 3 times as many bases as you need and chucking the rest in the freezer. It’s a similar story with the sauce. Really, there’s no excuse not to have delicious pizza whenever you need it in your life.
As for what you put on top, that’s a personal choice for you. Although it was definitely not summer when I made this I opted for flavours that made me think of summer salads – sun-blushed tomatoes, rocket, salami. Just think of it as a salad on a slice of bread, that way it’s almost healthy…
So next time you think you might have pizza for dinner, don’t go for the takeaway menu or to your local supermarket – be a little more organised and get in the kitchen. You’ll thank yourself for the effort when you tuck into amazingly fresh and crisp pizza that doesn’t have an ingredients list the length of your arm!
Rocket & Salami Pizza
This recipe is a combination of a few different ideas, however the recipe for the base is pretty much based on one found in James Morton’s bread book. The rest though comes from other ideas that I’ve seen around the place, how my brain has put them together and what was leftover in the fridge… Serves 2 (but very easily scalable – just double as appropriate).
for the pizza dough:
150g strong white flour
100g strong wholemeal flour
3.5g fast-action yeast
170ml tepid water
20g olive oil
for the tomato sauce:
4 ripe tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1.5 tsp tomato puree
1 small handful parsley
1 glass red wine (optional)
½ a red onion
1 tbsp olive/rapeseed oil
for the topping:
1 ball of mozzarella
2 handfuls of rocket
8-10 slices of salami
12-15 slices sun dried tomato
The dough takes a while to make, so start early (or the night before). Rub together the flours yeast and salt (keeping the salt and yeast apart, or you will retard the yeast). Add the water (37 degrees Celsius is technically the right temperature, but tepid water will do nicely) and olive oil and combine it all together to form a dough. The dough then needs to be kneaded for about 10 minutes, so it is super stretchy and smooth. Rest for 1-1½ hours until it has doubled in size [if you are making the day before, this is where you leave it in the fridge over night].
30 minutes before the end of the rise [or do it as you take it out of the fridge, so it will be at room temperature] turn the oven on to 240ºC and if you have a pizza stone put this in to warm up.
At this point, start the sauce. Dice your onion, crush up the garlic and cube up your tomatoes. Put the oil in a pan on a medium heat and soften the onion and garlic. Turn up the heat and add to this your wine (if using). Let it hiss and spit a little, then let it simmer – you want it to start reducing. Once the liquid is about a third of its original quantity, it’ll only take a few minutes, turn the heat down and add your tomatoes, tomato paste and herbs (any leafy herb will work, I just happened to have parsley). Put the lid on and let it cook – if it’s cooked but still too liquid, simply take the lid off for a bit.
By this point your dough should be ready. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and either split into two pizzas or continue as one. Roll out or stretch the dough into a pizza-like shape (or whatever shape your heart desires), then put onto your pizza stone in the oven – WITHOUT any sauce on it.
Leave it in the oven for just a couple of minutes until is starts to bake. Quickly take it from the oven and cover your (preferably still warm) tomato sauce on top. Add on the salami, sun dried tomatoes and mozzarella (or whatever cooked toppings you’re using) and put back in the oven for about 5-10 minutes, depending on your baking surface, until crispy and all the cheese has melted.
Take out of the oven and add the rocket, slice and serve.