Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Vegetarian Pizza & Toppings

This is a very simple pizza recipe that can be topped with anything. I've adapted a Jamie Oliver dough recipe to serve 4.

Pizza Dough

500g Strong White Flour/Bread Flour
1/2 tbsp salt
1 x 7g sachet fast acting yeast
1/2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp oil
355ml Lukewarm water (any hotter and it will kill the yeast. Stick your finger in, it should be just warm.)

-In a jug, mix yeast, sugar and oil into water and leave for a few mins.
-Sieve flour and salt onto a LARGE board and make a well in the middle. (Alternatively if you're like me and ended up tipping yeast mixture all over my stove top because my board was too small, use a large bowl instead, and make a well in the centre.)
-Pour in the yeast mixture gradually, using a fork to mix together into it forms into a dough you can mold with your hands. (you can also use a dough hook attached to a hand mixer, but make sure you mix the flour and yeast together first or you will get lumps) You may not need all of the yeast mix, it will depend on your brand of flour.
-Knead well until soft and springy and chuck around the kitchen if you desire.
-Place into a flour dusted bowl and sprinkle flour on top. Cover loosely with a just damp tea towel and place in a warm area for 1hr or until doubled in size.

My "warm area" usually consists of my oven turned onto its lowest setting and the door pulled slightly ajar, I then balance a very precarious cooling rack which I hook around my stove top so that the bowl of dough sits above the stream of warm air. You can use an airing cupboard (which I don't have) as it is far simpler! Your dough may take more than an hour to rise, mine takes closer to two.

-Once the dough is risen, knead again to push all of the air bubbles out.

You can then fridge or freeze the dough in a large plastic container or a bag. The cold air will make the dough rise a bit more, so make sure you allow room in the container/bag for this to happen otherwise it will escape. When defrosting, don't be tempted to defrost in a microwave, I tried very unsuccessfully and my dough didn't rise. Instead defrost gradually in the fridge overnight or out on a counter top for a few hours, it won't take long. I've kept my dough in the fridge successfully for about 2 days.

-Divide into 4 balls and roll out into 0.5 cm thick rounds. (if using straight from fridge, allow it to sit for about 15-20 mins before rolling.)

My pizza never wants to make a neat round, but this just adds to the rustic feel. For thin and crispy pizzas, roll onto a greased and floured baking sheet. For deep pan, press into a greased and floured pie dish (pressing up the sides too) this will make a lovely thick fluffy crust.

-Top with a tomato sauce and toppings of your choice (taking care not to layer too thick or your pizza will be soggy in the middle)
-Bake for around 10mins in an oven on its hottest setting.

Pizza Toppings

Spinach and Ricotta with Spinach Pesto
(Makes enough to top 1 large or 2 small pizzas)

Small Handful of Spinach
1/4 tub of Ricotta (vegetarian)
Handful of Grated Cheddar

For the pesto
(Makes enough for a few pizzas, keep in fridge with a layer of oil on top. This has a serious garlic kick!!)

1 Large Handful of Spinach
Small handful of basil
Handful of Vegetarian/Vegan Parmesan substitute (I found mine in Sainsbury's)
Sprinkling of pine nuts
1-2 Cloves of Garlic
Olive Oil
Salt & Black Pepper to taste

-To make the pesto, whizz all ingredients except the oil in a blender until just mixed, add the oil a little at a time until you get your desired consistency.

Top the pizza base with tomato sauce, sprinkle over the spinach leaves and cheddar, dot the ricotta around and then drizzle with the pesto. Bake for about 10mins in a hot oven until the base is cooked through and the ricotta has started to melt.

Vegetarian Italian Spicy Sausage balls & Mozzarella
(Makes enough to top 1 large or 2 small pizzas)

3 Vegetarian sausages (I use Linda McCartney)
1/2 ball Mozzarella
Handful Grated Cheddar

For the Sausage Seasoning

1/4 tsp of Black Pepper
1/4 tsp of Mixed Herbs
1/4 tsp of Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp of Paprika
1/4 tsp of Onion Powder
1/4 tsp of Crushed Fennel Seeds
1/4 tsp of Salt
Egg yolk to blend (If needed)

-Crush the fennel seeds with the other spices in a pestle and mortar.
-Break sausages up into chunks and add the spice mix. Whizz up until all mixed together. Test the mix to see if it holds together, if it's too dry, blend in an egg yolk until it holds together nicely.
-Turn out into a bowl, cover with clingfilm and sit in the fridge for a couple of hours (if possible) to let the flavours develop.
-Make into little balls or flat rounds and fry in a little oil until cooked through, but not browned too much.

Top pizza base with tomato sauce, slices of mozzarella and cheddar cheese, top with the sausage balls/rounds and bake for 10 mins in a hot oven until the dough has cooked and the sausages have browned.

Perfect film accompaniment- Amelie. Warm, hearty and delicious.

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