I just took it for granted really. Then I started watching River Cottage Vegetables Everyday. Not only did I get a reminder that vegetarian food is exciting, healthy and tasty (sometimes it's easy to fall into the belief that others are correct when they say, "but you miss out on all those delicious meals"). And he pointed out quite rightly that people rely on meat as the flavour and centre of a meal.
So my offering for Meatless Monday this week is traditional Italian Margherita pizza. A student of mine who was born in Rome, and works at an Italian pizzeria, taught me how to make a good Italian pizza. I was amazed at the simplicity and the depth of flavour.
It is best to make the dough ahead of time, either in the morning or evening before you want pizza.
1 Tbs dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 cup room temperature water
3 cups sifted flour
1. Place sugar, yeast and water in a large bowl. Set aside until frothy. Usually 15-20 minutes. I like to do this before beginning cooking something else, then I can kneed the dough while my other meal cooks....
2. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Add wet ingredients. Stir together with a knife. This will slowly bring the dough together. When it is like one lump, take it out and kneed it on a floured surface.
3. Place the dough into the dry bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and place in a warm area. Allow to rise to about double in size- for about an hour. Then kneed it again.
4. Place dough in dry bowl covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator overnight or until you are almost ready to make pizza.
5. Separate the dough into 3 equal parts and kneed into flat circles. Allow them to rise and warm to room temperature while you make the sauce. The gorgeous Italian who taught me the recipe measured the dough into 200gm lumps. I am never that accurate.... 3 kinda works well.
1 tin tomatoes (Italian ones are great)
Oregano (basically to taste... I like about 3 tablespoons)
1. Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until sort of almost smooth. Done.
2. Trust me - it's wonderful sauce. I am planning on changing it to fresh tomatoes as soon as mine are in season.
The actual pizza
Mozerella cheese - grated
1. Roll out the dough flat. Place on a pizza stone or tray and cook in a pizza oven or regular oven at 180 degrees until slightly puffy and golden.
2. Remove base. Spread the sauce over the base. Return to the oven. Cook until the sauce is fragrant.
4. Remove from heat. Sprinkle mozerella cheese on the pizza. Return to the oven. Cook until cheese is bubbling nicely.
5. Remove pizza.Place on cutting board. Tear basil leaves onto the pizza. Slice and eat. Sooooo good. I love the leftovers for breakfast.... When there are leftovers....