A quick and simple homemade pizza. An extra thin and crispy crust topped with salty goats cheese, and swirls of pesto.
What kind of pizza lover are you? Deep dish and doughy? Or thin and crispy?
There used to be two different pizza places in our town. Paisanos, selling enormous slices of thick, gooey topping-loaded pizza, and Pizza Club, doing a trade fresh ingredients, simple flavour combinations, and crispy crusts. Now, Paisanos pizza defiantly has it’s place in my life. There are times when the night has got away from me, and I find I’ve drunk one or two more glasses of wine than I can really handle (which considering I can only really handle one glass of wine really isn’t that hard to do!) and all I need is something greasy, salty, and doughy to soak it all up. Then Piasanos really comes into its own, the smell of its giant pizzas making my mouth water before I’ve even entered the restaurant.
Mostly though Pizza Club was our pizza place of choice. It was the type of place where families spilled out onto the pavement, and the manager would stop to sit and chat with you. He kept a big bag of sweets in the back, and he’d whip them out for any children who came in to eat. Occasionally he’d show us pictures of his family, or pull out faded pictures of himself 50 years ago when he was growing up in Hong Kong. The pizzas came served on huge metal dishes. The crust was super thin, with a crispy, crunchy edge. The sauce was home made from fresh tomatoes, with only a few ingredients thrown in for flavour. The toppings were minimal but full of taste. Sadly, a few months ago Pizza Club closed down, leaving us with a big, gaping, thin and crispy pizza shaped hole in our lives.
I’ve had to turn to making pizzas at home which luckily, considering how easy and delicious they are, isn’t too much of a hardship.
This pizza is so simple you can go from pizza cravings to pizza in your mouth in half an hour. The base crisps up beautifully, even without using any fancy pizza stones. The sauce is made simply with tinned tomatoes, and doesn’t require any long cooking times.
I’ve topped it with lots of pesto and hunks of goats cheese. I love the sharp tang of the goats cheese against the smooth, rich flavours of the pesto.
A few cherry tomatoes and a handful of black olives are thrown on to add more salty sweetness, and its finished fresh from the oven with a handful of fresh basil and a glug of olive oil.
What are your favourite pizza toppings?
Goats Cheese and Pesto Pizza
(Makes 2 – enough to serve 2 greedy people, or 4 more restrained ones with a salad on the side)
for the dough
300g strong white flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
200ml warm water
for the sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
200ml passata, or chopped tomatoes
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt and peper, to season
1 handful fresh basil
for the toppings
2 tablespoons pesto
100g goats cheese
large handful of pitted black olives
large handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
handful fresh basil
oil and freshly ground black pepper, to finish
Preheat the oven to 220C/430F. You want to get the oven as hot as you can if you want a crispy crust.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the yeast.
Pour in the olive oil. Slowly add the water in small amounts, mixing as you go. You’re looking to create a firm, but slightly sticky dough. You may not need all the water.
Once you have formed a dough, tip out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until you have a smooth, pliable dough. Leave to rest for 10 minutes. Resting the dough relaxes the gluten and makes it easier to roll your dough nice and thin.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the garlic and fry for about 2 minutes, taking care that it doesn’t burn.
Add the passata or chopped tomatoes, and rip in the fresh basil. Heat through for five minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you’re using chopped tomatoes, blend through with a hand blender until roughly smooth.
Divide the dough into 2 balls and roll each one out on a floured surface. Roll the dough as thin as you can get it.
Divide the sauce between the two pizzas and spread evenly.
Spoon a tablespoon of pesto onto each pizza and swirl through the tomato sauce.
Rip the goats cheese into chunks and scatter across the pizzas.
Add the black olives and halved cherry tomatoes.
Put the pizzas onto well floured baking trays.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden around the edges and is crispy to the touch.
Finish by drizzling over olive oil, and adding some freshly ground pepper.
Enjoy while it’s hot!