All good things take time. That’s a given. And it most certainly applies to the case of the humble pizza. Sure, you can whip up a reasonable pizza within an hour, but if you want to go the whole hog (which, honestly, why wouldn’t you) it’s going to take a little more elbow grease. The winning combination involves a homemade sauce, a homemade base and lovingly prepared vegetables. Singing a crooning tune to the pizza while it is in the oven doesn’t hurt either. If you’re going to commit, commit 100%. You’ll be rewarded with a brightly coloured, gloriously flavorsome, sublimely textured specimen. Oozing, melty blobs (what a word, blob) of bocconcini adorn the sweet pumpkin pieces. Dollops of salty, creamy ricotta contrast with the richness and ‘pop’ of tomato sauce. Teensy leaves of basil make the pizza look oh-so-pretty and provide a hint of freshness. This pizza = a marvellous trip to heaven. It’s a given.
The key component of an outta-this-world pizza concoction? The dough. Sure, pita bread or gourmet store-bought bases work pretty darn well, but the full monty requires a personal touch. You’ll be wanting a combination of bakers flour and whole-wheat flour, a smidge of yeast and its friends – a wee bit of salt and that winning pairing of olive oil and warm water. It’s not complicated. Pop the flours in a bowl, whisk em together with the yeast and salt, then pour in the olive oil/water amalgamation. Use an implement of your choice (your good ol’ fork or butter knife works a treat) to combine the ingredients then tip out onto a nicely floured surface. Time to get those hands dirty! Once kneaded (emulate the Italian nonna you’ve always wanted to be) to form a smooth, slightly sticky ball, pop it into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for about 90 minutes. While the dough is in hibernation, multi-task by making the tomato sauce and prepping your veg.
The dough has risen and been rolled out, sauce has simmered, pumpkin has roasted and spinach wilted. It’s now time to assemble! First, ensure your oven is still piping hot at 220C and slide in two large baking trays to heat up – this will give you that lovely crispy underside of the base (don’t worry it’ll still be soft and slightly chewy too!). Sccchhhmmmear the tomato sauce over your two pizza bases, which are resting atop a large piece of baking paper, then dollop with ricotta, scatter with spinach (we now have the colours of the Italian flag, yay) and then go crazy with the zucchini strips, roasted pumpkin, sundried tomatoes and bocconcini cheese. It’s art.
We’re almost at the finish line! Oh so carefully slide the baking paper onto the hot baking trays and bake for roughly 12 minutes. In the meantime, set the table and then sit, staring at the oven, waiting for the magic to happen. Most importantly, take a few deep, calming breaths – this pizza deserves to be devoured slowly. If it takes that much time to make (about 2 hours if you’re dedicated) then it needs to be fully appreciated! Buon appetito!
Pumpkin, Zucchini, Sundried Tomato, Spinach, Ricotta & Bocconcini Pizza
Makes 2 pizzas – serves 4 people.
125g strong bakers flour
125g whole-wheat flour
½ tsp dried instant yeast
¾ tsp sea salt
1 ½ tsp olive oil
150ml warm water
Extra flour for rolling
600g tomatoes (the older, the better), cut into 1cm chunks
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
½ butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded & cut into 1x2x3cm pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
4 sprigs thyme
150g smooth ricotta cheese, drained and seasoned with salt and pepper
3 large handfuls of baby spinach, wilted
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced/peeled lengthwise
150g sundried tomatoes, drained
200g bocconcini cheese, halved
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful basil leaves
Whisk together the flours, yeast and salt in a large bowl until well combined.
Combine the olive oil and warm water in a small jug then tip into the flour mixture. Use a fork or butter knife to mix the liquids into the dry. Flour your hands lightly and tip the dough onto a floured surface. Knead for about five minutes or until the dough has come together and forms a smooth ball. Don’t be tempted to add more flour – it should be quite a sticky dough.
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Place in a warm spot for about 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
Knock the dough back by punching/poking it with your hands and leave it to rest for a few moments. Cut in half and roll out each piece as thinly as possible, each on a separate piece of baking paper.
Place the tomatoes, oregano, garlic powder and tomato paste in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately 45 minutes or until the tomatoes have broken down and the mixture has reduced. Taste and season accordingly.
Preheat the oven to 220C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Toss the pumpkin with the olive oil in a bowl and transfer to the prepared tray. Scatter with the thyme sprigs and bake for 30-40 minutes or until just soft. Remove and leave to cool slightly.
While the pumpkin is cooling slide another two baking trays, into the oven to heat up.
Smear half of the tomato sauce on each pizza base and dollop spoonfuls of the ricotta cheese over the top. Scatter over the wilted spinach, followed by the zucchini strips, then the sundried tomatoes, roasted pumpkin and bocconcini cheese.
Slide the pizza bases (still on the baking paper) onto each tray and bake for 12 minutes or until the cheese is beginning to melt and the edges of the pizza base are just crispy.
Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with basil leaves.
Source: A tastewithoutwaste original.