Keeping it Simple Pizzas… Two for One

Had a craving for pizza the other day and somehow the pizza’s from the local pizzerias (I won’t name them but they’re pretty well known international chains) always seem heavy on the stomach, while making holes in the pocket. Not an ideal situation when you come to think of it. So figured it would be better to make my own, that way I could put in the ingredients of my choice, which meant just about anything I fancied eating, and know that the outcome would not only taste good but be worth every cent (err… rupee).

Now I’m a huge fan of keeping it simple, and with good ingredients, which at times may translate into being expensive but at others may not be quite so. And like a lot of Indians I love a bit of spice. So I went shopping and picked up a tub of Italian buffalo mozzarella and some Feta. The other ingredients I got from the local vegetable vendor. And since it’s December, the produce is not just fresh, it’s so much better, plump red tomatoes and gorgeously deep purple eggplant with the thinnest skin.

I used the pizza recipe from Anna Maria’s Open Kitchen, halving the ingredients, and still came up with two large pizzas. And to spice things up I added red chilli flakes into the dough while kneading it, letting it prove for 1 1/2 hours till doubled in size.Once doubled, cut the dough into two portions… I got two fairly large pizzas, about 10 1/2″ x 14″, and went classic for the first, with one of my all time personal favourites, the pizza margherita. I made my own chunky tomato sauce, using 3 large ripe tomatoes, 5 pods of garlic, balsamic vinegar ( 1 1/2 teaspoons), sugar (1/2 teaspoon), salt (1 teaspoon), a large pinch of black pepper and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Finishing off the sauce with a teaspoonful of chopped basil. Topping the pizzas with 8 – 10 fresh basil leaves and 60gms buffalo mozzarella.

Remember to spread the dough out as thin as you can possibly get it, using your fingertips. You can always patch up holes that may occur as you stretch the dough out, but it is important to get it as thin as possible otherwise the base of the pizza will be thick and more like focaccia than pizza. Spread the sauce onto the pizza base as lavishly as as you would like (I used all my sauce), followed by the basil and mozzarella, leaving a 3/4″ border free… and drizzle over with olive oil.

Bake the pizza at 250 degrees C in an oven which was preheated to 270 degrees C, turning on both the top and bottom elements for the last 5 – 10 minutes.

For the second pizza I wanted to do something quite different… so I made an Eggplant, Tomato and Feta Pizza with Walnuts and Rosemary. This pizza uses olive oil instead of a sauce base and makes a wonderfully light snack.

I used one large tomato – sliced thin, topped with slices of eggplant (6 slices – halved), a handful of roughly chopped walnuts, 60gms Feta – crumbled, 2 teaspoons of dried oregano, 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary and 3 tablespoons of olive oil… mixing the oregano with half the olive oil and brushing it onto the dough, leaving a 3/4″ border.

Arrange the tomato slices, topped with the halved slices of eggplant, and sprinkled on the walnuts, feta and rosemary.

Drizzling on the remainder of the olive oil just before placing the pizzas in the oven which should be preheated to 270 degrees C. Reduce the temperature and bake the pizza at 250 degrees C for 30 – 35 minutes or till the edges begin to turn a nice golden brown, turning on both the upper and lower elements of the oven for the last 10 – 12 minutes. Keep a keen eye on the pizza at this stage to prevent it from browning more than required or burning… and what you’ll come up with is a deliciously light and tasty pizza

I served the second one, cut up into squares and I must say they made tasty little hors d’oeuvres.

Two completely different pizzas from one red chilli pizza dough.

Yum’s the word!