Saturday 8 October 2011

Pizza my way

This is my entry for the Love the Garden "Taste of Tomatoes" competition. If you would like to enter yourself, check this link for full details - you could win a £200 meal at a restaurant of your choice.  The competition closes on October 19th.

Pizza is a favourite in many families, but sometimes making it from scratch can seem like a  bit of a faff - as well as making a yeast dough, you have to make the tomato sauce to top it with, or buy a ready-prepared sauce which leaves you feeling you might as well have bought the whole thing. But if you have some really good tomatoes, there is no need to make a sauce at all - you may be surprised to learn that fresh tomatoes make a really delicious topping without any pre-cooking.

You do need to plan a little way ahead for this - I usually prepare the tomatoes at the same time as I start making the dough. You need to choose a variety that has very few seeds, as they can make the topping watery. Ferline is  a perfect one to use - I started with around 450g to make a pizza that serves 4.

Chop them up, not too finely - I cut them into chunks of about 7-8 mm - then mix them with about half a teaspoon each of salt and sugar, one teaspoon each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a little black pepper. Cover and leave them to stand for a couple of hours. That's all you need to do to them!

Now prepare your chosen base. I am lucky enough to have a bread machine that I won in a Twitter competition, which has a special setting for pizza dough, so I use the recipe from the handbook. You could use your choice of home made base, or a bought base, or a savoury scone dough or even some ready-made puff pastry to ring the changes, but make sure you adjust the cooking time and temperature to suit your base.

While the tomatoes are standing, prepare any other toppings you are going to use. Today I fried some sliced  chestnut mushrooms and tore a ball of mozzarella cheese into small pices, and took the strenuous step of taking the dried oregano out of the cupboard (I always think that dried tastes betterthan fresh on a pizza!). And I cut some shavings of parmesan to top the pizza  with when it came out of the oven. Also grease a baking sheet, or a special pizza baking tray if you have one. Yes, yes, I won mine...  I expect you are thinking "of course...." by now.

When the dough is ready, roll it out to fit your tray then brush it with oil and let it prove for a short time while you heat the oven - 200 degrees C if you are using a bread dough. Once the oven is hot, assemble your toppings  on it and brush the edge of the dough with a little more oil.

Bake for about 20 minutes until risen and golden at the edges, then remove from the oven and scatter over the parmesan flakes.

Finally, serve with a green salad and a glass of wine (dare I suggest "a nice Chianti"?)

Naturally,  we had a bottle of wine that I had won......

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