Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Pizza di Mama

Pizza is one of the most versatile foods I know. There are just so many variations. From the thickness of the crust, to the sauce and the toppings, the combinations are endless. Maybe that's why I don't know that many people who don't like pizza, and I am no exception. When Kirstie turned to me yesterday and asked, "Mom, when can we have pizza again?", I realized it had been way too long since the last time I made what I consider to be one of the ultimate delicacies of the Italian kitchen. Seriously.

I had everything in the cupboard except, horror of horrors, the staples bound to be in every foodie household...canned tomatoes, tomato puree or tomato sauce! I usually make my pizza sauce with one of these ingredients and it's always a cooked sauce. I did have a bowl of sweet, little cherry tomatoes sitting on my table so I decided to work with what I had letting the sweetness of these little fellows inspire me. I wanted a fresh, clean sauce. Something with subtle flavor, not the tangier sauces I've made in the past.

I came up with an uncooked pasta sauce. The idea was something along the lines of Nigella's Pasta al Sugo Crudo. Of course, the sauce would be cooked once it went in the oven, but like I said, this is not the way I usually make my sauce. I decided to whizz the ingredients together in the blender, taste, season, taste again and see what happened. I kept it very simple so no garlic or strong flavors, with the exception of a bit of balsamic. The sauce was delicious and it made for a wonderful base for some tangier flavors to give the pizza that nice contrast and extra "umph".

Here's the recipe, which makes two pizzas:

For the base:
375g 00 flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 packet (7g) dry active yeast
2 tbsps olive oil
250 ml lukewarm water

For the sauce:
500g cherry tomatoes
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
3 tbsps olive oil
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
NOTE: If your tomatoes aren't optimal, a teeny bit of sugar wouldn't hurt.

For the toppings:
200g buffalo mozzarella, sliced
3 tbsps capers
3 tbsps black olives, sliced
2 handfuls rocket lettuce


Mix flour, salt and yeast. Add olive oil and gradually add the water until you have a nice moist dough. Knead well and let rise for about an hour and a half or until doubled. I used my kitchen aid for this procedure. After the dough has risen, knead again briefly, divide the dough in half and roll each half out into thin, rough circles.

To make the sauce, whizz all the ingredients in the blender for a quick ten seconds. Make sure not to go too crazy! You want it all to remain chunky! Let sit for about half an hour. Have a bowl with a colander ready and drain the juices from your sauce. Leave the sauce to drain for a good 10 minutes giving it a little help every now and then with the back of a wooden spoon.

Preheat oven to 220C. Top the bases with the sauce, capers, olives and mozzarella. Pop in the oven for 20-25 and serve with a good handful of rocket per pizza.


Karen said...

It looks beautiful, Paola! Well done.

I am a novice at pizza making. I made one a week or two ago and Margaret was skeptical that it could be made at home. She figured if it didn't work we could just order a pizza from the place on the corner. But it was pretty good! I'm eager to try again.

Mara said...

Mmm, it looks so perfect! I haven't made pizza in ages but it's so hot here atm, I'd just skip the base kneading part and pick a slice of yours, if I could LOL

Kelly-Jane said...

A good pizza is a very happy eating experience, looks delish :)

Nora B. said...

Paola, that's a great idea. Never let the lack of tomato sauce/paste stop you from making pizza ;-) I've had few pizza bianca or white pizza where it's simply some garlic, mozzarella, olive oil and some herbs, some use a sort of alfredo sauce or sometimes a ricotta based sauce instead of tomatoes. It's good but tends to be rather rich compared to tomato based pizza.

Sandy said...

Paola, it looks amazing! My mother made them once a week and now I am an avid pizza maker also. I love the addition of arugula on the top.

Margaret said...

Hi Paola - what a wonderful blog (and thank you for visiting mine). My husband looked longingly at your pizza because I still don't seem to be able to turn out a half decent one!

Rose said...

Even without garlic, your pizza still look good. I love the idea of using cherry tomatoes. So fresh!

Paola said...

Thank you all very much for your comments! I think I won't be cooking my pizza sauce from now on anymore! It really was so much fresher and delicious!