One of the sad truths of my life is that I don’t really like to cook that much.
Whilst I could quite happily spend every waking hour baking cookies, I find the whole process of actually having to cook meals fairly tedious. The desire that I have to eat said meals also seems to be inversely proportional to the amount of time that it took to prepare them.
For some strange reason, this rule doesn’t seem to apply to cake.
Most of the time, if I’m honest, the aim is to get the food from the fridge to our plates in the shortest time possible and with minimal disruption to our busy schedule of watching old episodes of CSI. Part of it is just a question of timing – both boyfriend and I are never really sure when we’re going to have to work late (or get sidetracked by the pub on the way home) and it’s a rare evening that one of us is home before 8pm. By which time we are both starving and are barely capable of stringing coherent sentences together.
The fantasy me – the one that has a perfectly made bed every day and actually puts laundry in the basket rather than on the floor next to it – loves to spend hours in the kitchen, standing over a simmering pan and crafting delicious meals for her nearest and dearest. The reality is far more likely to involved a telephone and the local Indian restaurant.
Given the choice, I could very easily live on a diet of pasta and pizza alone. The former is pretty well represented on this site but I realised the other day that home made pizza had yet to make an appearance.
Pizza is one area of my life that has been infinitely improved by the purchase of a stand mixer. Kneading is not one of my strong points so I’d pretty much stopped making the dough at home. With my mixer, however, I can just chuck everything in, flick a switch and have perfect dough in a couple of minutes.
This is a great spring pizza (and a great way to use fresh pesto) and is inspired by a pizza class I took at Divertimenti in the pre-blog days. I love the combination of the green beans and the potatoes but I imagine it would work well with other vegetables too. I think the potatoes are a must though. You can never have too many carbs.
Yield: 2 pizzas
For the pizza dough:
- 1 sachet (7g) dried yeast
- 250 – 500ml (1 – 2 cups) warm water
- 500g (just under 4 1/2 cups) bread flour
- 4 -5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the toppings:
- 8 – 10 new potatoes (depending on size)
- 2 handfuls green beans
- 1 quantity pesto (or approximately 130g)
- 2 tablespoons single cream (optional)
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Shaved parmesan (optional)
- To make the pizza dough, dissolve the yeast in a a cup of warm water and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
- If kneading by hand, put the flour, oil and salt in a large bowl. Add the yeast and extra water if necessary to bring together the ingredients into a bowl. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 5 – 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- If making the dough in a mixer, put all the ingredients in the bowl of your mixer. Use the dough hook on a low speed (I used ‘2’) to mix your ingredients until you have a dough that starts creeping up the hook and is smooth. You may need to add another cup of warm water if the dough looks a bit dry.
- Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (this took about an hour).
- While the dough is rising, you can prepare the toppings. In a large pan of salted boiling water, cook your potatoes for 15 minutes until cooked through but firm (there’s no need to peel them). Add the green beans for the last couple of minutes so that they are also cooked but still firm. Drain the vegetables and leave to cool before slicing the potatoes thinly.
- If you want, you can mix your pesto with a couple of tablespoons of cream to get a richer sauce but this is an optional step and depends partly at least on the consistency of your pesto.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
- When the dough has risen, turn it onto a flat surface and gently flatten and shape it with your fingers. I split my dough in two and pulled them into a rough circle.
- Place the dough on a baking tray that has been drizzled with olive oil. Spread with the pesto and cover with the potatoes and green beans. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
- Serve with shavings of fresh parmesan.