Friday, May 25, 2012

Pizza Baked in a Barbecue

I have been suffering the embarrassment of riches known as a vegetable glut. I tend to get over-enthusiastic in the green grocer and buy more than my small family can possibly eat. This included a logjam of dodgy-looking zucchini, a smattering of slightly soft artichokes, and a pile of peppery arugula that was about one day away from complete wiltage. In the past, when I have more veg than I know what to do with, I invariably throw it all into a soup. Yet a quick check out the back window revealed a blazing sun, a straw-like lawn and ruddy, perspiring children. Hot soup simply did not seem apropos. Usually plan B is pasta, but I was still digesting the spaghetti from the previous what to do?

A wander through Kensington market provided the answer. I found some fresh pizza dough in the bakery and I have been hankering to get my BBQ pizza stone going. Problem remedied.

I opted to make two pizzas. One pizza, while tasty, was a bit pedestrian. Simple tomato sauce, crispy bacon and mozzarella cheese (pictured at top). This pizza did not solve the vegetable glut, but it would be consumed lustily by the kids. The second pizza was a veritable farmer's market. In fact, this pizza, groaning under the weight of all those vegetables, threatened to collapse whilst placing it on the pizza stone. Happily in the end, it held together, affording the grownups a superlative herbivorian experience.

Vegetarian Barbecue Pizza

500 g of fresh pizza dough
50 ml of tinned tomatoes
1 medium ball of buffalo mozzarella
4 baby artichokes, cleaned and poached till tender
3 zucchinis, sliced into thin medallions
1 small red chili, deseeded and sliced finely
1 medium onion, sliced
50 g of grated cow's milk mozzarella
A handful of fresh argula
The juice of one lemon
Some olive oil
Some fresh thyme
A bit of flour for dusting
Salt and pepper

Sweat the onions on a medium heat in the about 10 ml of olive oil until they start to soften and colour slightly, about 10 minutes. Then remove the onions and put aside. Add some more olive oil and turn the heat up slightly. Add your zucchinis, season with salt, pepper and a pinch of fresh thyme and sautee until the zucchinis start to colour and become tender - about five or six minutes. Then put them aside. Dust your hands and work surface with some flour and roll out your pizza dough to the desired size (don't even attempt to make it perfectly round - it is much more appealing when it is an irregular shape). Place it on a pizza peel or some kind of implement for which you can slide it easily onto a hot pizza stone on the BBQ (without burning yourself). Then start loading it up: first hand-crush the tinned tomatoes and spread around on the dough. Over the tomatoes, spread your softened onions. Then start laying down the thin zucchini medallions-they will completely cover the dough like roof shingles. Then chop and scatter the tender artichokes on top of the zucchini, sprinkle the chilies and place quarter inch thick slices of buffalo mozzarella here and there. Fill in some of the gaps with the grated cow's milk mozzarella and finish with some olive oil and a sprinkling of maldon salt. Bake in a very hot BBQ on the pizza stone for about 10 minutes or until the dough has become crispy and your cheese has melted. Then carefully remove it from the BBQ and get it on to a large board to rest for a few moments. In the mean time, toss your arugula with some salt, pepper, lemon juice and oil. Ratios can be determined by your personal preference - I like mine really lemony. Then get your dressed arugula and scatter atop the blistering pizza. It will wilt in a pleasant way. To avoid burning the roof of your mouth, wait a few moments before consuming. I never have the patience. I will spend the next few days nursing a burnt tongue - well worth it.

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