Three pizzas in ten minutesThis journey into vegetarian cookery has been fascinating – but easy it is not. There’s no default chuck-a-steak-on-the-barbie or pick-up-a-cooked-chook-on-the-way-home option. You have to work for your dinner. There are pulses to soak, grains to cook, you have to think of balancing textures, colours, flavours, consider your iron levels, your protein intake… Anyone who thinks vegetarianism is a cop-out, think again. It’s fully hard core.
I am taking any short cuts I can find with gratitude. Our margherita pizzas are the little black dress of the pizza world: timeless, perfect - you can dress them up, you can dress them down. The key to jazzing up a LBD or MP is the same: keep it simple. Slice any raw toppings thinly (I think we may have lost the frock metaphor here) and make sure they’re quite dry – you don’t want them sogging up your nice crispy base and you want them cook at the same time as it does – for ours, that’s about 7 minutes at 220C.
Here are a few delicious vegetarian ways to pimp your pizza.
To an uncooked margherita (tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella) base, add:
- Finely shaved fennel, tossed with olive oil and salt. After the pizza is cooked, dress with a handful of rocket and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or vin cotto.
- Shiitake mushrooms, finely sliced and tossed with smoked paprika, olive oil and salt and strips of roasted red pepper. (The mushrooms take on a bacon-like smokiness – nice.)
- Finely sliced zucchini or asparagus, tossed in olive oil and salt, interspersed with dobs of goats cheese, with a sprinkle of thyme.Finely shaved brussel sprouts, tossed with olive oil, salt and grated Parmesan.
- Finely sliced figs and little blobs of blue or goats cheese. This is another one that benefits from a good handful of rocket and drizzle of balsamic or vin cotto after cooking.
- And of course, there’s a world of ready-cooked antipasto vegetables from the deli – choose as many or as few as you like from: grilled eggplant, roast peppers, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, capers, marinated mushrooms… Drain anything you’re using well and slice finely before adding to your pizza.