It wasnt all that long ago, I’m afraid to say, I only really ate pizza if it had meat on it (ham, salami, prosciutto – that sort of thing). Without it, it just didn’t seem enough somehow, even in the most caricatured of Italian pizzerias . I suppose I saw it the same way I view low alcohol-beer, skimmed milk or that chemistry lab low-fat ‘butter’. Pale imitations of what they could be.
But then we did a vegetarian January this year when, admittedly hand forced by a limited choice, I plumped for a simple stone baked Margherita at an Italian restaurant. It was a decent place and therefore I assume, decent ingredients, which no doubt helped, but I was proven very wrong. So much so that I don’t honestly think I’ve ordered a meat pizza since. I loved the simplicity of it.
We don’t eat, nor make pizza too often at home as it’s a bit of a lengthy process having to prove the dough. And then there’s the mess of course. It less ‘Italian Piazza’ and more ‘Winter Wonderland’ once I’ve finished. But it’s a simple pleasure to make once in a while.
Last Saturday, with Helen out shopping with her Mother and an arse-whooping against the All Blacks in the rugby coming on the TV soon, I took the opportunity to make some bread and whilst I was making a mess anyway, thought I’d sneak some pizza into the equation at the same time. Consolation for what was to come, I reasoned.
I was inspired by the Pizzetta in my excellent Polpo cookbook for these, particularly the potato topped version that I made with
Bour garlic and herb soft cheese, which I preferred. Both were good though. It made a change not to use a tomato base to be honest, it allowed the other flavours to come through a bit.
I won’t go into the dough recipe, it’s everywhere, but I use the usual ratios of 500g strong flour, 300g water (70%), 10g salt (2%) and a sachet of yeast and a good lug of olive oil
Once the dough is ready, split into two. Keep one half for bread and split the other into two again. Make a ball, flatten with your fingers then roll them out onto the work surface.
For the ‘Pizza Bianca’ style one:
- 2 new potatoes, thinly sliced and blanched for 4 minutes.
- A few small heads of broccoli, split and blanched with the potato
- 1 smallish red onion, gently fried until soft with some thyme
BoursiNice soft cheese with garlic.
- Rosemary and more thyme
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
For the Roast Pepper version:
- About six-seven small, sweet peppers, roasted and skins removed (plunge in cold water afterwards)
- 1 ball of mozzarella, split apart and as much water removed as possible
- Olive oil
I baked them both using a pizza stone. It was noticeable how much better the second rose than the first, suggesting I hadn’t got the stone hot enough first time. The secret is as hot an oven as possible. Mine goes up to 275°C/530°F which is pretty respectable.
They only take minutes at this temperature.
Looks like a perfect Bianca, one of my favourite pizzas, competing with my other veggie favourite, asparagus with an egg cracked on top, baked to perfection. You also reminded me I have been meaning to buy Polpo for ages. Christmas present to self, I think. Thanks.
Thanks Tracey. Great choice – I had a spinach and egg pizza once. Loved it. Polpo was a Christmas present last year, excellent book, loads of inspiration.
The first time I enjoyed pizza bianca, it was a revelation! Prior to that, I thought a pizza had to have tomato sauce, unless it was Mom’s spiadini that she made for Dad. Your pizza hear sounds wonderful and I bet it tastes even better. 🙂
Thanks John – always good to get a thumbs up from you on anything Italian 🙂 I was exactly the same, but this makes a welcome alternative.
I have recently been playing around with a very basic Italian pizza without the meat and it has been really delicious. Like you, I usually had some sort of meat with the vegies on top. Your pizzas look wonderful.
I honestly think I prefer it these days! Thank you for that. The white pizza is a nice idea – without the strong tomato, you can use more delicately flavoured toppings
mmm some seriously good looking photos there – and I have to make two of everything in my house – meat for me – vegetarian for the Mrs
Cheers for that. I guess I’m lucky we both eat both, but for the love of a God, if only I could get her to eat lamb….
Lamb is the secret king of meats!
I would prefer both of your pizzas to a meat pizza…they look delicious.
Thanks Karen, well worth the effort!
Oh my! These little babies look so delicious. How do you manage to get such a crust? Is it the pizza stone you’re using? If so where did you get it (super interested!) ?
I got the pizza stone (good for bread too) from a local kitchen store but Amazon sell them if you struggle to find one. If you get it (and the oven) hot enough, it’s great. Thanks for the comment too!
These look delicious and its so nice to see a pizza recipe without the layer of tomato sauce.
Thanks Beth. Definitely made a nice change from the usual – worth a try, if you can put up with the mess 😉
Lovely & appetizing 2 pizza bianca, dear Phil! They both look freaking delicious, home-made is best, I agree! 🙂 x
Ha! Always look forward to your comments Sophie 🙂 Thanks very much!
I take your point abut the lack-of-meat-on-pizza thing, but (food snob rant alert) isn’t it a similar story to how meat gets eaten in so many other contexts in these lands, ie to lend a sense of occasion or generosity to dishes cooked inexpertly from dud ingredients? Thus the rubbish salami on a stodgy pizza base, or the dried-out chicken in a “caesar” salad. If you get nice veg and prepare it thoughtfully, all is well. That said, I do love a bit of n’duja on a pizza…
I agree, and I think punters are to blame in this country to some extent too (myself included until fairly). Dishes are considered ‘vegetarian’ without meat in the UK as if they are made only for a certain demographic. Italians do all sorts of great dishes in their own right without meat, shame we don’t see it the same way. Oh, and I’ve never tried n’duja, to my shame – must remedy that….