The recent development of the Nutritionally balanced Pizza by ‘Eat Balanced certainly caught the attention of the media and for some it will mean they can enjoy what was previously a high fat, salt and sugar food as a healthy meal option. It’s been the result of 2 years work for businessman Donnie MacLean and Professor Mike Lean of Glasgow University and I’m sure it will be a godsend for those who rely on convenience food or even myself who occasionally has to allow the boys that quick fix for tea.
Pizza, however is also one of those foods that is easy and great fun to make and whether or not my homemade effort is perfectly balanced nutritonally, it is still a healthier option than most shop bought or carry out versions. It’s also a great way to get the family, especially younger kids interested in cooking as they can choose their own favourite toppings or even make faces or designs on the pizza.
Pizza making is quite a sociable night in our house as once I ‘ve got the bases, sauce and toppings organised, it’s down to the boys to build their own pizza and within a short time we have a delicious and reasonably healthy dinner for four.
There’s nothing complicated and to be honest I’ve used the same simple base and sauce recipe for years, only changing the toppings which have became more adventurous as the boys have got older. From those early days of cheese and tomato we’ve gone on to include chilis, olives, red onion, sweet corn , charcuterie including venison , tiny meatballs..my food hell…the dreaded pepperoni, goats cheese, mozzarella, rocket and spinach.
Part of the fun in cooking your own pizza is designing your own and my boys are always experimenting with new toppings and I just try to encourage them to keep it as healthy as possible and to eat along with a healthy salad.
This is one of our family favourites……Bon Appetite.
A good handful of fresh basil, torn
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
Mix the ingredients together and if using immediately leave at room temperature.
I make the sauce earlier and leave to allow the flavours to infuse.
The base mix will make enough for four 9 – 12 inch pizzas depending on the thickness you like.
300g Strong White Bread Flour
150g Strong Wholemeal Bread Flour
1.5 teaspoons instant yeast
1.5 teaspoons salt
1.5 tablespoons olive oil.
Approx 300ml of warm water.
To mix the base ingredients I use the dough hook on my Kenwood mixer but is can easily be done by hand.
Put the flours into a large bowl and mix in the yeast and salt. Make a well and pour in the water and the olive oil and bring together until you have a soft, slightly wet dough.
If using the mixer this will only take a few minutes, otherwise turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and slightly springy.
Cover with a tea towel and leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes. If making a thick crust pizza, leave the dough to rise and give it a quick knead before dividing into four portions.
Roll out each portion of dough to the required thickness and place onto floured baking sheets.
Using the back of a spoon spread the tomato sauce over the bases.
For the basic pizza add the cheese grated mozzarella, ball of mozzarella sliced, parmesan, grated or shaved or goats cheese all work well. Thereafter add the toppings of your choice and in our house no 2 pizzas are ever the same.Drizzle with olive or rapeseed oil, freshly ground black pepper and cook.
Heat the oven to 240c/fan220/gas 8. Each pizza will take 8-10 mins to cook.
I use a pizza stone which I pre heat along with the oven and then slide the pizza onto the stone.
Once cooked, serve topped with basil, rocket or baby spinach leaves and drizzle with an oil of your choice. There is a great variety of oils available and my favourites are good quality olive oil or flavoured or plain rapeseed oil from Summer Harvest Oils, again it’s about choosing what tastes you prefer.