Inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall i decided to try being vegetarian for a while, not for any health or moral reasons but just to see if i could do it. So far so good and not as difficult as i thought it would be, turns out i cooked more veg than i thought but it does help that there are loads of great vegetarian toppings for pizzas.
My favourite christmas present this year was River Cottage Veg although i have to say i havent made that many dishes i did like the look of the Kale & Onion pizza. The kale is fried until a bit like the crispy seaweed you get in Chinese restaurants so i thought id give it a go but with some real seaweed too.
Start by making the dough, I normally make mine the day before but it can be kept in the fridge for up to three days before using. For enough dough to make four pizzas you will need the following ingredients
500g 00 Flour (or strong bread flour)
7g Packet Dried Yeast
250ml Lukewarm Water
2 Tablespoon Rapeseed Oil
2 Teaspoons Salt
2 Teaspoons Caster Sugar
Dissolve the yeast in the water with the caster sugar. Put the flour & salt on a flat surface or board and make a well in the middle, slowly add the water yeast mixture & rapeseed oil and bring it together with your hands and then knead for about ten minutes until the dough is elastic & smooth. Atternatively if your food mixer has a dough hook put everything in there and blitz it for a few minutes until the dough forms a smooth ball, if the dough is too moist and sticky simply add more flour. Shape the dough into a ball then cut into four even sections, form each section into a smaller ball by forcing the outside edge into itself until it is a smooth ball with no seams. If you intend using the dough that day cover with a damp tea towel and leave it in a warm draft free place to double in size. A little tip which i use every time i make dough is to place each ball into a food bag and tie securely, these bags can then be easily torn open and the dough taken out when it has doubled in size.
Believe it or not the Italian Ministry of Agricultural Politics regulates what goes into Neapolitan pizza and how the dough must be kneaded by hand and shaped without using rolling pins. I'm not sure La Pizza Polizia are going to come round my house and arrest me but i do try to shape the pizzas by hand without my rolling pin were possible, using a rolling pin knocks all the air out of the dough.
Put your dough ball on a floured surface then gently flatten into a circular shape with the heel of your hand. Place one hand in the center of the dough then stretch the dough outwards with the other hand being careful not to tear it. Continue stretching the dough by turning the dough around like the hands on a clock repeating the process until you have a perfectly round pizza. Even if your first few pizzas are not perfectly round, they will taste much better than any pizzas you can buy.
For the topping you will need:
a bunch of Curly Kale
a handful of Seaweed
a Red Onion
a clove of Garlic
Luckily i have loads of edible seaweeds growing on my back doorstep so i had collected some Dulse (sometimes called Dillisk) a reddish coloured seaweed which hangs from the rocks and Nori a black slimey looking seaweed which grows on flat rocks and a Japanese staple used for making sushi sheets. Rinse the seaweed thoroughly and leave it to soak for a while then pat dry on some kitchen paper.
Sweat the sliced red onion in some butter for about five minutes until softened, then set to one side. Finely slice the garlic and cut the seaweed and kale into thin ribbons then gently fry in some rapeseed oil for three or four minutes until the kale turns a dark green colour and has slightly wilted. Dont over cook the kale because it could end up too crispy when cooked again on the pizza.
Spread the kale, seaweed and red onion over the pizza base and drizzle with oil, sprinkle with seasalt and dot with a few pieces of mozzerella. Then its into the oven, normally about 2 or 3 minutes in the wood fired oven but if you're making it at home put it on a pizza stone in a pre heated oven as hot as you can get it then bake for about ten minutes until the base is crisp and the cheese has melted.