‘Family-pleaser’ pizza

Catering for my family is sometimes like running a pop-up restaurant. At mealtimes, each member wants something different from the other. My nine-year old son is vegetarian, my husband is wheat-free and my 12-year old daughter would quite happily turn carnivore if left to her own devices. So how do you please that lot with a single dish that we can all enjoy? The answer is pizza! I have discovered, after long hours of wringing my hands in the kitchen, that I can put different toppings on the same pizza to suit all of our tastes. It’s a variation on a theme.

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 16.41.29Of a summer’s evening, there is nothing better than sitting outside in our garden, munching our way through home-baked pizza. Something about the fresh air and the muted light makes the cheese-and-tomato combo taste all the more delicious. Best of all, because we’re all outside eating picnic-style, no one cares too much about table manners, which makes for a much more harmonious mealtime!

So I give you my family-pleaser of a pizza! I bake mine in the oven, but you could also cook it on the BBQ if you are feeling particularly outdoorsy.

Family-pleaser Pizza 

Ingredients serves 4 (three fussy eaters plus one long-suffering cook)

For the pizza base
3 cups of wholemeal spelt flour (if you like a less-hearty base, go for white spelt)
1 tbsp easy-bake yeast
Pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 cup of warm water

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 crushed garlic cloves
Half a red pepper, finely sliced
400g tinned tomatoes
2 tbsp red pesto
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
Optional: 1 tsp of chilli sauce
1 handful of chopped fresh basil

2 handfuls of shredded baby spinach leaves
2 handfuls of grated mature cheddar cheese
3-4 sliced cherry tomatoes
3 rashers of chopped back bacon OR torn-up ham
1 tsp maple syrup
4 tsp red onion chutney

How to prepare

First make the pizza base, either in a bread-maker on the pizza dough setting, or:

• Stir dry ingredients together
• Add remaining ingredients and stir well
• Knead on floury surface for about five minutes until you have a smooth, sticky dough
• Leave out on a plate covered by a damp tea-towel for 1 1/2 hours until the dough doubles in size

Then make the sauce:

• Fry up the onion in olive oil with three crushed garlic cloves on a low heat in a thick-bottomed saucepan
• When the onion is looking soft and translucent, add half a chopped red pepper
• Continue frying for two to three minutes on a medium heat
• Turn up the heat a little and add 400g tinned tomatoes, 2 tbsp of red pesto, 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp honey and 1 tsp of chilli sauce (if using) plus salt and pepper
• Simmer for 10 minutes with no lid on a low heat, stirring occasionally
• Turn off the heat and stir in a handful of chopped fresh basil
• If you prefer a smoother sauce, use a stick blender to liquidise

Finally, when the dough has expanded:

• Pre-heat your oven to 350F / 180C (fan-assisted) / 200C; or light the BBQ
• If using chopped bacon, fry it until nearly crisp and then add 1 tsp of maple syrup and continue to cook on low heat for about two minutes; set aside
• Place your clump of sticky dough onto an oiled baking tray or pizza stone (or greaseproof paper, ready to be transferred to BBQ grill)
• Stretch, press, or roll dough into one large pizza base
• Spoon on a layer of sauce (freeze any leftover sauce for another pizza)
• Sprinkle on two handfuls of spinach leaves followed by two handfuls of mature cheddar cheese
• Decorate one half of the pizza with sliced cherry tomatoes
• Decorate the remaining half with the fried bacon (or ham)
• Drizzle 4 tsps of red onion chutney over the entire pizza
• Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes; or use the greaseproof paper to transfer the dressed pizza onto an oiled BBQ grill and close the lid (keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn)
• Eat and enjoy!

Here are my before and after pix!