In many ways I have learned that making a pizza is like constructing a piece of art. The base of the pizza is like the foundation of the art form. And in this case it needs to look right, smell good and taste great!
Once you have the dough in place you can roll the dough thinly to make a thin crusted pizza or into medium thickness to have a crusty base and a little bit of spongy bread like texture, like I have here. Or roll the dough thick to bite into fluffy and soft pizza.
Next comes the sauce. Firm ripe tomatoes, adequately spiced and herbed turn into tangy goodness with just a hint of sweet to balance the sour flavours. The sauce is the perfect foil between the base and the toppings. You get it right and you get a perfectly balanced pizza.
Then come the toppings. Colourful embellishments with different textures artistically arranged over the sauce is like the finishing touch to this masterpiece. Alas! I was hard pressed for time as I was in a rush to go and pick up my 3 1/2 year old from nursery and I sprinkled the toppings I chose in quick succession before I placed my pizza stone into the oven and closed its door shut.
A little bit of time on hand can mean more elaborate decorations in terms of your artistic expression.
Remove the toppings and just do the base with the sauce and cheese and you have the classic pizza margherita which Im sure would make Hari a very happy boy. But I’m also pretty sure that I would never make it unless I had a vegetable soup as an accompaniment to it, the vegetable lover that I am!
I really enjoyed making this pizza for my family and served this with pasta in lemon sauce and some roasted pumpkin and beans. It created the perfect base, a great sauce and the toppings of my choice alongwith the cheese made a harmonious blend of taste and textures. And what’s not to love in such endeavours which make oneself and the loved ones happy?
Mozzarella Cheese And Vegetable Pizza Recipe
You can use either plain flour for the base or 50% plain flour and 50% whole wheat flour as I have suggested below. You could also use a variety of thinly cut vegetables like eggplant, artichoke, zucchini as the topping for the pizza. Skipping the vegetables and just using the cheese makes this a pizza margherita.
For the pizza base
1/2 tsp instant yeast*
1/2 tsp sugar
125 ml (1/2 cup) lukewarm water
105 gm (3/4 cup) whole wheat flour
105 gm (3/4 cup) plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
For the tomato sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp asafetida powder (optional)
400 gm (1 1/2 cups) tomato puree
1/2 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh)
1/2 tsp dried basil or (1 tbsp fresh)
1/2 tsp dried parsley (optional)
1/2 tsp sugar (or 1 tsp if the tomatoes are sour)
1/2 tsp paprika
A few turns of fresh pepper
1 tsp salt
200 gm mozzarella cheese, grated
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 green bell pepper
12 to 15 black olives
baby corn, cut into thin strips
*There are different kinds of yeast available and please note that I have used instant yeast here.
The pizza base
In a bowl put in the yeast and sugar, mix and pour in the lukewarm water. Allow to stand for ten minutes until the mixture froths and bubbles appear on the surface.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, put in the both flours and salt. Mix using the paddle attachment. Put in the yeast mixture and mix again until the dough comes together. You might have to use two or three tablespoons of additional water of the dough is very dry. Put in the dough hook and knead for 3 to 4 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Alternatively use a food processor or your hands. If kneading the dough with your hands, you will have to do so for 8 to 10 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Put the bowl in a warm place for about 30 minutes or more until the dough doubles in size.
Punch down the dough and form into a ball. Place the dough on a flat surface and using a little flour beneath and above the ball of dough and roll out the dough into a 10” (25 cm) circle.
In a wok or a pan, heat the oil. Stir in the asafetida and the tomatoes. Put in the all the remaining ingredients, the herbs, sugar, pepper and salt and cook on medium low heat, until the sauce becomes thick stirring in between to prevent scorching, about 12 to 15 minutes. Allow to cool.
Place the rolled dough in a pizza pan, a tray or a pizza stone.* Spread the sauce over the prepared pizza base leaving 1/4” of the border uncovered. Sprinkle half the cheese over the tomato sauce. Arrange the remaining toppings of your choice over the sauce. Spread the remaining cheese over the toppings. Brush with a little olive oil all over the pizza.
Bake in a pre heated hot oven at 220 C/400 F for 15 to 20 minutes or until the the crust is golden brown.
* If using a pizza stone make sure that you heat the stone for atleast 30 minutes before making the pizza. It has to be hot! And allow it to cool carefully to room temperature before you clean it. Also, it has to dry thoroughly before you place it back in a hot oven or else it would crack.
Makes one 10” pizza