Pizza simplicity – my chizza (cheats pizza)

Right from the start I have to apologise to all Italians. I have enormous respect for the traditional pizza.  And with this I don’t mean the ones palmed off by the hundreds of franchises as the real thing.

For me there is nothing like a pizza with a thin crust and loads of fresh ingredients. None of the canned, nuked, ‘previously-used-to-be-a-tomato’ and ‘posing-as-Mozzarella-cheese’ (conveniently grated) ingredients. I’m not always an ingredient snob as you might know from my other posts.  I try and use what is available and see what creative dish you can make from it.

However a pizza is eventually only as good as the ingredients that adorn it and the effort made with the dough. The recipe I’ve done here is a bit of a cheat’s pizza – let’s call it a “chizza”.  It’s a bit of a tarty one. But it’s one of those recipes you can hold onto for a Friday night dinner when you don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. That’s simply because you’re not making the pizza dough, but rather buying some puff pastry.

Because you’re cheating with the puff pastry, you can make the effort and get really good quality and fresh ingredients for the toppings. It could be well worth your while to pop into an Italian deli in your area.

That’s exactly what I did, went to lunch with the girls at the Al Dente Deli in Somerset West and walked out with some very nice purchases.

It’s a family owned deli and restaurant that boast really good Italian food and ingredients.  They also sell their home-made pastas and sauces to take home and cook impress. It made me think that you should make an effort and explore a bit around your area.  So go and have a look at independently owned shops. I’ve found that owners of these shops go the extra mile.  They also take pride in what they put on their shelves and easily share advice and tips.

Back to pizza. We’ve been brainwashed into expecting pizza’s groaning with all kinds of ingredients that you can put your hands on. The result is a very confused pizza if you ask me. You won’t find a pineapple or banana close to any of my pizzas, sorry. Not to talk about the ones that are stacked like sandwiches (!). Therefore I beg you not to put the whole pantry on top of your pizzas. Less is more, which means you can rather spend a bit more on getting good quality ingredients, as you won’t need so many different toppings.

Serves 4
400g Puff pastry (defrosted)
Toppings – note that this will depend on what you feel like. In this case I haven’t used a base of tomato sauce on the pastry, purely because I felt like something fresh.
3/5 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped & sautéed*)
250g Chorizo (sliced)
450g Small tomatoes (I used Bella tomatoes, therefore I halved them)
300g Bocconcini (Fresh Mozzarella balls) – torn
100g Calamata olives (de-pipped**)
250ml (1 cup) Basil
500ml (2 cups) Wild rocket
Salt to taste
Olive oil for drizzling
* Sautéed garlic: you can use raw garlic. It’s a personal thing that I just prefer to give the garlic a bit of a ‘kick-start’ before I spread it on the pizza.
** To de-pip olives: You don’t always find de-pipped olives. There is an easy way (if you don’t have a gadget). Simply bash the olive with a flat bottom cup. It pops open and you can remove the pip.
Preheat your oven to 200°C.
Make sure the pastry is properly thawed. Preferably let it thaw in the fridge, as you don’t want your pastry to get too warm.
Unfold the sheet on a lightly floured surface.
Roll the pastry out in a rectangle (roughly 45cm x 30cm). It is important that you roll it out enough, otherwise it puffs up too much.
Place a baking sheet on a large enough baking tray and dust with some flour.
Place the rolled out pastry on this sheet.
Fold over the edges of the pastry to make an edge. (This is especially important if you decide to have a tomato sauce spread on your base.)
Prick the whole surface of the pastry with a fork.

Place this in the oven and let it bake for around 8 – 10 minutes. It must be crispy and slightly golden brown when it’s done.
Turn your oven down to 180°C.
Place your prepared toppings on the pizza.
Start by spreading the sautéed garlic on the base of the pastry.
Arrange your chorizo and your halved tomatoes around the base.
Tear up your bocconcini balls and arrange randomly among the other ingredients on the base.
Sprinkle over some salt and drizzle a bit of olive oil (not too much, just around 1 Tbsp).

Place it back in the oven (now at 180°C) and let it bake for 15-20 minutes. Or until you’re happy with how your toppings have cooked.
To present, top with basil and wild rocket, some more salt and a good drizzle of olive oil.
Cut into your preferred portions and enjoy with a nice big salad.

And where’s the lemon you ask?
You can use it in the salad’s vinaigrette. However there is a very nice tip I came across. And this is for the pooches. Add some lemon juice to your dog’s water bowl; it helps to refresh their breath. How’s that. I dare say my dachsies prefer that a lot more to the once a week brushing of teeth. But it won’t fight cavities right?

And yes, they’re wearing jackets here. Hey it was in the middle of the winter.

Pizza dough recipe: For those that want a pizza dough recipe, you will find one under my Other recipe section.

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