I love making pizza so much! The combinations to choose from are endless and I find it really exciting to come up with new ideas that I can try. I always find myself studying menus intensely whenever I’m in a restaurant to see what creations the chefs have come up with and what I can replicate at home! I love trying new food, and I find that pizza toppings are an amazing way of experimenting with new flavours while having a reliable and delicious base of bread, tomato and cheese.
If I feel as though, if I can make food from scratch, I will. I love to cook, and I prefer knowing exactly what ingredients I am using and putting into my body. However, sometimes we just don’t have the time to make every single element of a meal from scratch. Pizza bases (as in the bread itself) can be exceptionally time consuming to make, especially if you’ve never made, or are not experienced in making, bread (like me!). It sounds odd (but trust me it works) – I use a specific type of flatbread which is perfect to create a homemade pizza. It’s definitely not as doughy or stretchy as a classic pizza base, but it does the job well and everybody who I know likes them! I use goats cheese as opposed to regular cow’s cheese, as goats cheese happens to be a lot less allergenic, since it contains A2 protein instead of A1 protein (which is why many people react to milk even if they are not lactose intolerant).
TOMATO SAUCE BASE
- 1 onion
- 5 tomatoes (about one 400g pack)
- 1 clove of garlic
- Garlic olive oil
Roughly chop up your onion and fry for around 5 minutes in a drizzling of garlic olive oil on a medium-to-high heat, making sure they don’t burn or brown too much!
Remove the stalks of your tomatoes and gently slice a cross into the top of each tomato, across where the stalk has been removed (this will help you skin them easily!). Place the tomatoes into a jug and pour over boiling water for about 30 seconds at the most. Carefully, without burning yourself, remove the tomatoes from the water and peel the skins off.
After you’ve skinned the tomatoes, put them on a plate you don’t mind getting a bit scratched, and cut them into quarters and de-seed them as much as possible, and then cut the remaining quarters into 1-2 cm chucks. Don’t be too particular or wary! Doing this step on a plate means you can retain as much of the juice as possible, which will help to keep the sauce more liquidy.
Place the chopped tomatoes in with the onions and turn the heat down to a medium-level.
Hold a sieve over the top of your frying pan and pour the leftover seeds and juice into the sieve, allowing all the juice to mix in with the onions and chopped tomatoes without any of the seeds. If your sauce is looking a bit too thick, you can add in a little bit of hot water (try not to put in too much, but if you accidentally do, don’t worry, it will eventually evaporate as you cook!). Grate in the one clove of garlic and stir sufficiently.
Once your mixture is bubbling away, turn it down to a low-medium heat, where it will be at a temperature where it is simmering rather than boiling rapidly. This will give the sauce time to develop its flavours, as well as the onions and tomatoes to soften and combine. Allow the sauce to simmer away for about an hour – if it gets too thick, just add a bit more water.
Sometimes I don’t have time (or, if I’m being honest, the patience!) to make a sauce from scratch, and I’ve found that the best alternative is to use a supermarket bought tomato base – I use one which is made just from tomatoes called Cirio Passata Rustica. However, I have to say I do prefer to make my own base when I can!
FOR THE BREAD BASE & TOPPING
- 1 Crosta & Mollica Piadina Emiliana flatbread (or any pizza base you can access!)
- Hard mature goats cheese
- Soft goats cheese
- 1 chicken thigh
- 1 small red onion
- 3 chestnut mushrooms
- 3 cherry tomatoes
- Garlic olive oil
Remove one of your oven shelves and place it on the work top. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
Put your flatbread onto the oven shelf and spread the amount of tomato sauce that you want over the top. You actually need a lot less than you’d think! Grate the amount of hard mature goats cheese that you desire and sprinkle that on top of the tomato sauce – but more in the middle of the flatbread, so you still have a small rim of the sauce on show (for aesthetic purposes only!).
Heat up a small frying pan with garlic olive oil at a high temperature (but be careful not to burn the oil!) and chop up the chicken thigh with a pair of scissors and cook through. The high heat with give the chicken a lovely golden-brown colour, which will add to the flavour too.
Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pan and put it on to a side plate. Chop up the mushrooms – it will look like there are way too many, but mushrooms decrease in size dramatically when cooked! Turn the heat down to a medium-to-high temperature. There should be enough oil left in the frying pan from cooking the chicken thigh to start off the mushrooms, but you will more than likely have to add a bit more oil as the mushrooms will soak it up really quickly! Also, be careful not to overfill the frying pan as otherwise the mushrooms will boil rather than fry and won’t get the caramelised look and taste we’re after. Keep an eye on the mushrooms so they don’t get burnt.
After the mushrooms have finished cooking, tip them out onto the side plate. Next, slice the amount of red onion that you desire – remember to slice it relatively thinly otherwise it’ll be too crunchy! In the same frying pan as the chicken thigh and mushrooms have been cooked in, quickly chuck in the onion on a high heat for about 20 seconds until they have that caramelised look – once done, place them on a side plate too.
Once the chicken, mushrooms and red onion is cooked and ready to go, you can now place the topping on in whichever way you like! I also love to add a little bit of soft goats cheese to add another flavour and texture, but, again, be careful not to go overboard with any of the ingredients otherwise it can be way too much!
After all the toppings are on, carefully put the oven tray with the pizza on it back into the oven on the middle shelf and cook for about 8-10 minutes. Watch it like a hawk! It can easily get burnt. I hope you enjoy it!