What’s your weekend evening snack meal, whether in or take-out? When we lived in the UK, it would typically be a ‘beer and a biryani’ or dhansak or tandoori. I guess when in Rome, our equivalent was a ‘pizza and a Peroni’ (try this place). For several years, it’s been eat-in homemade pizza. Tired with my regular toppings which end up using whatever needs using up in the fridge, I decided to plan a pizza for our weekend pizza night in. This, dare I say it myself, is my best pizza combo ever – my ‘Pizza Gozo’!
Inspired by a traditional pizza Gozo with its potato, anchovy and goats’ cheese topping, mine adds a few more complementary ingredients to come up with what I think is a knock-out, perfect pizza. Incredibly, this combo has none of the typical pizza partners of tomato ‘passata’, mozzarella or basil yet still manages to pull off the impossible and make a pizza feel like a memorable meal rather than a routine end-of-week snack.
A cursory glance down the list of ingredients doesn’t give the whole story about why this pizza topping works so well. It’s not any one flavour in itself, it’s the way they work in harmony. I know, I am waxing lyrical about this ‘humble’ pizza, but do please try this one out. It has cumin and fennel seed in the dough as well as scattered on top. The moisture of tomato sauce is replaced with a parsley and cumin pesto. The bite of flavour lies in the way the potatoes absorb the zing of the salted anchovies (do try to use those packed in salt rather than preserved in olive oil). The capers, sun-dried tomatoes and goats cheese are ideal partners. A few fresh mint leaves after baking off-sets the punchiness of the preserved ingredients balancing the pizza out perfectly.
Perhaps what I love most of all about this pizza is knowing that the topping ingredients are truly local. What I found out though about potato pizza is that is also considered a very Roman pizza topping too. Rome’s cuisine is know for its basis in ‘cucina povera’ (poor-man’s cooking, I suppose, drawing on everyday, humble fare). Whatever the roots of the potato pizza, this one is sublime! Next time you make pizza, do ditch the tomato sauce just the once and try this version instead, and let me know how it goes.
All images © Liz Ayling 2013
- INGREDIENTS – DOUGH
- print button transparent500g plain white bread flour – Tipo 00 if possible
- 3 rounded teaspoons dried, instant yeast
- 1 tsp cumin seeds & 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar
- 4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
- pinch of salt
- 250ml hand-hot water
- INGREDIENTS – TOPPING
- 4 small-medium potatoes, peeled & sliced very thinly lengthways
- 6 salted anchovies, rinsed, patted dry, backbone removed & cut lengthways
- 3 small goats cheeselets
- 8 sun-dried tomatoes (dry preserved, not in oil, preferable)
- 1 rounded tbsp capers, rinsed and shaken dry
- 2 large handfuls fresh parsley (leaves only, not stalks)
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds, crushed
- extra virgin olive oil
- fresh mint sprig to garnish
- cumin & fennel seeds to sprinkle on once baked
- Pre-heat oven to 200°C.
- Make up dough (takes 1 – 1.5 hrs, with rising). Dough-making instructions see my earlier pizza post here. Just remember to add the crushed fennel and cumin seeds to the flour at the start.
- While dough is rising, make the topping pesto: crush 1 tbsp cumin seed with a pestle and mortar. Chop the fresh parsley with a herb chopper and add to the crushed seeds. Continue crushing until the parsley is macerated, then start adding enough extra virgin olive oil as you go, until the pesto is a runny paste. Set aside.
- Rinse the salted anchovies, or drain oil-preserved ones, and pat dry. Split them open and remove the backbone. Don’t worry about leaving smaller bones behind. Cut them in half, lengthways.
- Rinse the capers and drain well. Do the same with sun-dried tomatoes, if in oil, then slice them up.
- Slice up the goats cheeselets (or use other semi-hard deep-flavoured cheese)
- Lastly, slice up the potatoes thinly.
- To make up pizza…Split the dough into 2 or 3 pieces (2 large or 3 medium pizza, as you like). Roll out on a lightly floured surface til just under ½cm deep. Place on baking parchment on a metal baking tray, or use pizza stone or mesh to place direct on oven rack.
- Spread a good 2 tbsps of the parsley pesto on the pizza base, then lay on, in this order: potato slices, goats cheese slices, anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and a few fennel and cumin seeds. Drizzle over a little more pesto.
- Bake for around 10-15 mins, depending on size, until the dough is lightly golden at the edges and is dry to tap underneath.
- To serve, sprinkle over a little more pesto and some whole cumin and fennel seeds and lastly, a few fresh mint leaves.
[…] baking 4. Pizza (b) – use pesto instead of a tomato sauce base for a crisper pizza (see my Gozo-style pizza recipe) 5. Focaccia, ciabatta, BBQ flat breads – add a tablespoon of pesto to the dough […]