White Pizza or Pizza Bianca. No tomato, basically.

Pizza Bianca

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.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow......all together now...

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow……all together now…

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
  • Boursi Nice soft cheese with garlic.
  • Rosemary and more thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Uncooked pizza bianca

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
  • Salt

Roast Peppers

Uncooked Roast Pepper Pizza

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.

Pizza oven

Getting a nice air bubble there. It’s the little things….

They only take minutes at this temperature.

Pizza Bianca and Roast Pepper Pizza