Monday night is pizza night in our house. I like to top the pizzas with lots of veggies, but the kids usually pull them off (except for the olives) and just eat the base and tomato sauce. So I’ve started loading the base and the sauce with hidden nutrition.
Base (makes 2 medium size pizza bases):
400g wholemeal flour
2 tbsp tinned/cooked cannellini beans–or whatever types of legumes you have around (you may need to grind these up in a mortar and pestle)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1 1/3 – 1 ½ cups water (use filtered or spring water, not tap water. The chlorine in tap water can inhibit yeast activity).
1 ½ tsp instant dried yeast
Mixing and Kneading
I use a bread machine to mix and knead my dough. The bread machine is so vigorous that it mashes up the beans for me (I put them in the bottom with the liquid ingredients).
I like the dough to be quite wet and a little bit sticky. I start with the 1 1/3 cups of water and often add a little bit more if the dough is looking too smooth.
If you don’t have a bread machine, mash up the beans before adding to dough. Knead by hand or in a mixer with a dough hook for a good five to ten minutes. Try not to incorporate too much flour, this dough really does work much better if it is wet and sticky. If kneading by hand, try wetting your hands instead of using flour to reduce stickiness.
Let the dough rise somewhere warm for 1 to 2 hours. You want it to look bubbly and well-fermented (like the picture below). Get your toppings prepped and ready to go while your dough is rising.
Dividing and Shaping
Remove the dough from the container in which it has risen (wet hands will prevent sticking). Turn onto a floured board and shape into a ball. Divide the ball in two with a large dough scraper or a serrated bread knife and shape each half into a tight ball. Place each ball on a piece of baking paper (a little larger than a dinner plate). Cover the dough balls with a warm, wet cloth and let rest for about twenty minutes.
Stretching the base
Wet your fingertips and press down and stretch out each dough ball until you have a base about the size of a dinner plate (the further you spread it out the thinner the base will be). If your dough keeps springing back you may need to give it another short rest to give the gluten time to relax between each manipulation.
Sauce and Toppings
Suggested sauce ingredients
400g tin of chopped tomatoes (strained)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 small carrot (peeled and chopped)
½ a zucchini (chopped)
Handful of baby spinach leaves
½ a red or yellow capsicum (blackened under the grill and skin removed)
1 clove garlic (crushed)
2 mushrooms (chopped)
2 slices of eggplant (drizzled with olive oil and cooked under a grill)
Process all these ingredients together in a food processor to make sauce. You can use whatever toppings you’re going to use on your pizza, just be wary that you want to try and keep the colour close to red if you don’t want to alert your kids to hidden veggies in the sauce.
This makes quite a bit of sauce so you might like to freeze half for another day.
4 small mushrooms (sliced)
Handful of basil leaves
15-20 pitted Kalamata olives (chopped in half)
½ a red or yellow capsicum (prepared as for the sauce and cut into strips)
3 slices of grilled eggplant (prepared as for the sauce and cut into segments)
1 egg (beaten)
¼ of a zucchini (sliced thinly)
A handful of grated cheese (more if you like your pizza cheesier)
Spread sauce on pizza base then add toppings.
Using a pizza paddle, slide pizzas (still on baking paper) onto pizza stones in a preheated oven (as hot as it will go) or if you’re lucky enough to have one, into your pizza oven.
Bake for about ten minutes then rotate them and remove the baking paper (which will probably be starting to blacken around the edges).
Bake until the cheese and the bottom of the base are nicely browned (usually around 20 minutes, but depends on the temperature of your oven).
Allow to cool for five minutes on a rack before slicing.