This month it's all about Friday nights on the sofa, in front of the fire and a good film. So, to make you evening even better, we're going to share some of our favourite comfort food recipes, perfect for a night in this weekend. This week, a delicious and a little bit different veggie pizza, with homemade dough and tomato sauce.
a few stalks of kale
2 tbsp olive oil
2 balls of pizza dough (see below)
160 ml (2⁄3 cup)
tomato sauce (see below)
250 g (2 cups) grated mozzarella
2–4 tbsp finely grated Parmesan
zest of 1⁄2 lemon
fine sea salt and freshly
ground black pepper
Makes 2 x 25 cm (10 in) pizzas
Preheat the oven to 250°C/480°F/gas mark 9. Place a pizza stone or an upside-down baking tray in the oven to heat.
Get the ingredients and equipment ready, including taking the dough out of the fridge 1 hour before you’re ready to cook.
Cut the kale away from the tough ribs, then chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces. Place the kale in a bowl, drizzle with half of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine using your hands and give it a quick massage, until the kale is coated with the oil. This adds flavour and also protects the kale from the heat of the oven so it doesn’t burn.
Stretch the pizza dough by hand or roll it out. Sprinkle a pinch of salt evenly over the dough, then brush a little olive oil onto the rim with a pastry brush. Using a ladle or big spoon, pour the tomato sauce in the centre of the dough. Spread the sauce over the pizza in concentric circles with the back of the ladle or spoon, leaving a 2.5 cm (1 in) border clear around the edges.
Place a big handful of the grated mozzarella in a mound in the middle of the dough. Spread it out evenly across the pizza, leaving the edges clear.
Check there is no liquid on the peel or board or your pizza won’t slide off it. Shake the board gently to see if the pizza moves. If it doesn’t, lift up the pizza with a dough cutter or spatula and sprinkle a little flour on the board until it moves. Slide the pizza off the peel or board onto the pizza stone or upside-down baking tray in the hot oven. Cook for about 5 minutes.
When the pizza has a few minutes left to go, take it out of the oven and scatter the kale evenly across the top, but leave some empty space in the middle. Crack the egg directly onto the pizza and slide it back into the oven. Or if you’re worried about the egg not holding its shape, you can put the pizza back into the oven after adding the kale, then crack the egg into a small cup, slide the oven rack out a little and pour the egg into the middle of the pizza, making sure you keep the rack level. Slide the rack back in and close the door. Cook the pizza for about 3 minutes more, until the kale has just started to wilt (curly kale needs to cook a little longer than Tuscan kale) and the egg white is cooked.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire cooling rack, then sprinkle over the grated Parmesan and lemon zest. Allow to stand for 1 minute before slicing.
Classic Pizza Dough
200 ml cold water
300 g ‘00’ flour or strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1⁄2 x 7 g sachet of fast action dried yeast
1 tsp fine sea salt
Makes enough for 2 x 25 cm (10 in) pizzas
Pour the water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, then add the flour on top of the water and add the yeast and salt in separate piles. Mix for 10 minutes on a medium–low speed. For the first few minutes it will look shaggy and you might be worried that it won’t come together, but leave it be and by the end of the 10 minutes the dough should be smooth, springy and slightly sticky. Check the dough after a couple of minutes, though, to see how it’s coming along. If it’s really dry and isn’t coming together, add another tablespoon of water. If it looks really wet, add another tablespoon of flour. Alternatively, if you don’t have a mixer, you can knead the dough by hand (see pages 24–25).
Sprinkle your work surface with a little flour and tip the dough out onto it. Knead it by hand a few times to bring it together into a smooth, round ball that holds its shape well and springs back when you poke it. If it doesn’t pass those tests, knead it for 1–2 minutes more.
Using a dough cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough in half. Pressing it firmly into the work surface, roll each piece into a smooth round, like a tennis ball. Put the dough balls on two side plates or a baking tray dusted with flour. Cover tightly with clingfilm or soak a clean tea towel in cold running water from the tap and wring it out really well, then cover the dough with the damp cloth. Place the covered plates or tray in the fridge for at least 6 hours, but ideally overnight or even up to 48 hours to let it have a long fermentation and a slow rise. The longer you let the dough sit in the fridge, the more flavour it will have.
Take the dough out of the fridge 1 hour before you want to cook the pizzas, making sure you keep it covered with the clingfilm or damp cloth so it doesn’t dry out. When you’re ready to shape the dough, dust a pizza peel or a thin wooden chopping board generously with flour. You can either stretch the dough by hand or use a rolling pin. If you’re using a rolling pin, dust that with flour too.
Take the rested dough ball off the plate or tray using a dough cutter or a bowl scraper, making sure the dough ball stays round at this point. Place the dough ball onto the floured peel or board and dust some flour on top of the dough too. Press down the middle of the dough with your fingers, but don’t press the edge of the dough ball, as that will be the crust later. It should already look like a little pizza. The dough is now ready to be stretched by hand or rolled out.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1⁄2 carrot, finely chopped
1 tsp fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 x 400 g cans of good-quality whole plum tomatoes
1 tsp sugar (optional)
Makes 800 ml
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan set over a medium–low heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and season with the salt and some freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cover the pan and sweat the vegetables for 8–10 minutes, until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook, uncovered, for just 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 3 minutes on a low heat. Good-quality canned tomatoes don’t need to be cooked for very long, plus the longer you cook the sauce, the more water evaporates and the thicker it becomes, which isn’t the consistency that you want – pizza sauce should be thin but not watery.
Whizz the sauce with a hand-held blender until smooth, or you could leave it a little chunkier if that’s what you prefer. Taste and check for seasoning – add a teaspoon of sugar if the tomatoes are too bitter or acidic. The sauce is now ready to be used right away, or it will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week or it can be frozen for up to six months (see the note above). This recipe makes enough sauce for five pizzas.
For more delicious and different pizzas recipes, check out Saturday Pizzas from the Ballymaloe Cookery School.