Pizza and oven-dried tomatoes

Here’s the good news about two do-it-yourself cooking projects. Pizza needs no introduction. And oven-dried tomatoes are an outstanding addition to pizzas, salads
and casseroles.

For the oven-dried tomatoes

  • 1kg ZZ2 Romanista tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Brown sugar
  • Extra virgin olive oil

For the pizza

  • 500g white flour
  • 10g dried yeast
  • 250ml warm water
  • 15ml extra
  • virgin olive oil
  • Generous pinch of salt

Toppings

  • Pepperoni, mozzarella, oven-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, anchovies, mushrooms

Begin with the oven-dried tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 140°C. Cut each tomato in half and arrange on an oven shelf or roasting pan. Sprinkle a little salt and brown sugar over the tomatoes, along with some chopped fresh thyme or, failing that, the dried alternative.

Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the tomatoes and stick them in the oven for 90 minutes. Let them cool to room temperature in the oven with the door open, then transfer the tomatoes to glass jars topped up with the juices from the pan. These will last for weeks in the fridge.

The big deal with pizza is the dough, and it is so easy to make. Start by preheating your oven to its maximum temperature, then sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Sifting removes the occasional impacted lump from the mix. Add the contents of the dried yeast sachet, a pinch of salt, 15ml olive oil and 250ml warm water.

Either by hand or with the dough hook of your heavy-duty food mixer, combine all these ingredients to form a dense dough. Remove this to a floured work surface and let it rise to twice its original volume. This takes about half an hour or so. When risen, break it up into quarters. Each quarter should make a medium-sized pizza base.

Using the heels of both hands spread out each quarter on the floured work surface, keeping the thickness more or less equal. This will produce a roundish layer of dough about 7mm thick. Now for the toppings. While there are standard topping of Italian origin, the only limitation is your imagination. Sticking with the classics, try a mozzarella cheese to start with. This melts well, combining with the other additions.

Pepperoni is a magnificent taste accelerator, with a chilli bite that surprises one with its intensity. Very thin slices are the best way to go. If pepperoni is too powerful, thinly sliced salami is a blander alternative. Anchovies also have an exceptionally powerful taste and should be used sparingly. One way is to chop an anchovy fillet and sprinkle the pieces over the entire pizza.
Olives should be depipped, mushrooms thinly sliced, oven-dried tomatoes used generously, along with the fresh herbs of your choice. When ready, stick the raw pizza into the ultra-hot oven for seven minutes maximum. Inspect the baking as it proceeds, removing it under the prescribed time if conditions indicate that you should.

That’s all folks! Enjoy!

Contact David Basckin at [email protected]. Please state ‘Real cooking’ in the subject line of your email.