The truth that no-one dares speak is that mozzarella doesn't really taste of anything. So with the exception of a margherita – which would be pretty sad without cheese – you won't notice its absence if the pizza toppings you choose trick your brain into recognising familiar flavours. Mozzarella is basically just fat and salt – if you season the pizza properly and liberally coat it with olive oil, your tastebuds can't really tell the difference. The following recipe came about – as so many do – when I threw a bit of everything I had in the fridge on top of some dough. The spicy jalapeño goes nicely with the sweet bell pepper, while greens up the nutrients and the pine nuts give it some bite. I don't personally make the tomato sauce – ain't nobody got time for that etc. – because a good jar of store-bought is hard to beat. You have to make the dough, though; it's not too difficult and you'll be glad you did.
For the dough:
125g Strong White Flour
125g 00 Flour
7.5ml Olive Oil
5g Dried Yeast
Semolina, for dusting
A jar of pre-made Tomato Sauce
8 Basil Leaves
6 florets of Broccolini
2 Button Mushrooms
1 inch of Courgette/Zucchini
1 Jalapeno Pepper (optional)
3 San Marzano Tomatoes
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 handful of Pine Nuts, toasted
2 handfuls of Spinach
A tiny pinch of dried Oregano
First, make the dough. Place the flours in a large bowl and stir in the salt. Add the yeast. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the water.
If you are using a mixer, this is the point at which you should set it to a medium speed and allow the ingredients to combine before adding the olive oil. Allow the machine to knead the dough for 10 minutes.
If you are not using a mixer, coat your hand with some of the oil and pour the rest in with the ingredients. Bring the ingredients together with your hands and turn out onto a clean, oiled surface. Knead the dough until it is as smooth as possible, which will take around 10 minutes. Then shape the dough into a round.
Wipe out the bowl in which you mixed the ingredients and place the dough, coated with a little oil to stop it sticking, in the bottom. Cover the bowl with a tea towel, or place the entire thing inside a new bin liner and seal the top. Leave the dough to ferment until it has doubled in size. Depending on the temperature of the room and the water you used, this will take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.
Set the oven to its highest temperature. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven to heat up when the oven is still cold. Otherwise, use a large baking sheet dusted with semolina.
Now prepare the toppings. Wash, slice, peel and chop as appropriate and toss in olive oil. Sauté the ingredients (except the basil leaves) in a small saucepan or frying pan over a low-medium heat and then set to one side. Toast the pine nuts separately in a dry pan.
Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into two equal-sized pieces. Dust a chopping board with lots of semolina. Coat your hands with olive oil and shape the dough into the desired shape, taking care not to stretch the dough too thinly that hole appear.
Place the dough on semolina-dusted board and check that it slides by gently shaking the board. Spread a thin layer of sauce across the dough, leaving an inch–wide border. Place toppings as you wish.
Drizzle olive oil over the pizza and transfer it as quickly as you can to the hot pizza stone/baking tray in the oven.
Depending on the ferocity of your oven it will take 5–10 minutes to cook. Check it every minute after the first four minutes because the toppings will quickly burn if left too long.
Remove the pizza from the oven and cut into slices. Sprinkle with freshly-torn basil and serve.
Makes 2 Pizzas | 60 mins