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Monday, 3 May 2010

Courgette pizza

Let's not beat about the bush, for most sane people pizza is a vehicle for cheese and lots of it.  A friend of mine refuses to darken the doors of Pizza Express on the basis that they skimp on cheese; a pizza from Pizza Express is, for her, a pointless exercise.

My approach to pizza is similar and I have never ever opted for a cheese-less number.  But then, the other day, Mr. F and I dusted off our pizza stone and decided to whip up a couple for our supper.  I was set on making a margherita using some delicious fresh buffalo mozzarella and then a fromage free pizza using thinly sliced courgettes that had been marinated in lemon, oil, garlic and thyme.  The latter was delicious!  A revelation!  We didn't even miss the cheese...

To make two pizze you will need:

200g of strong white flour
Instant yeast - about half a sachet but check the proportions as brands seem to differ
A generous pinch of salt
Warm water, enough to bring the dough together
A pinch of sugar
A slug of olive oil

Two courgettes, thinly sliced lengthways using a vegetable peeler or mandolin
Juice of half a lemon
Lemon zest
A clove of garlic, finely chopped
A dessert spoon of thyme leaves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Lemon juice and roughly chopped flat leaf parsley to serve

Start off by making the dough.  I do this by tipping everthing into my Kenwood Chef, dough hook attached, and letting it knead for about 5 minutes.  Transfer the kneaded dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove in a warmish, or at least draft-free, place for about an hour and a half to two hours.

About an hour before you want to cook the pizze, heat the oven to get your pizza stone good and hot. (What do you mean you don't have a pizza stone?  Get one!  The fact that your home will smell like a pizzeria whenever you use the stone will be justification enough for this modest outlay.)

About half an hour before you want to cook the pizze, marinate your courgette strips by mixing all of the marinade ingredients together and coating the slices in it.

When the dough has doubled in size, knock it down and divide it into two balls.  Flatten out each ball as much as you can, until they're a couple of millimetres thick (I use a rolling pin for this, which doesn't feel very Italian, but I haven't got my dough-throwing technique perfected.  Yet.  I also use semolina in place of flour to assist in this operation; it gives a more authentic appearance and crunch.)  Place the courgette strips in a neatly overlapping formation on each disc of dough.  Bake the pizze one by one (you're unlikely to have room in the oven for both) for between 7 to 10 minutes.  When they emerge from the oven squeeze on some lemon juice and scatter over the parsley.  Serve immediately with a cold beer.


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