Must-try Margherita and Blue Cheese, Bell Peppers and Red Onion Pizza

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The way pizzas have evolved in India definitely qualifies for a thesis. Think about it – in a time when many of us didn’t even know pizzas were from Italy, it was the ‘in’ thing to indulge in. Most of my preteen and teenage years were spent at the mom n pop joints, where my friends and I would devour on the thick, doughy crusts slathered with cheese – we loved it with our bottomless gallons of coke. And then I was introduced to the much sophisticated, authentic, thin crust varieties, with fine cheeses from all over the world. Bye bye Mozzarella, hello Gruyère! And then came the healthy wheat crusts. Thin, fat, meaty, cheesy, whatever it is, everyone loves a good slice of pizza. It’s what you order when you don’t want to cook, it’s what you eat when you want to celebrate a special occasion. Pizzas are what you share -it’s gained it’s popularity because of it’s taste, sure, but also because it’s family food.

While I like to dial my own pizza many a time, I like creating my own at home better. Preparing the pizza dough, or pizza per pasta like the Italians call it, from scratch is the best feeling ever. They just seem so daunting, but believe me, with the right ingredients at hand it’s the easiest thing to make. And once you have cracked making the pizza dough, your options to improvise are endless – you just have to go berserk with the toppings, which again doesn’t involve cooking as such.

So I was at the Italian aisle in this store earlier and I found ready made pizza dough. A lot of the pizza dough recipes call for strong white flour or strong white bread flour, which essentially means that these types of flours have a high percentage of gluten in them. You need the gluten to produce a fabulous pizza but don’t sweat it, our very own Indian maida has a considerable amount of gluten in it. If you don’t get any of the above mentioned flours, use maida you have at home – in which case, you probably have to use more yeast and knead it for longer.

If you want to buy the pizza dough, look for Moramarco Farina pizza dough.

Ingredients

For the pizza dough

  • 300 g pizza dough
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 200 ml lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling over the pizzas
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of sugar

For Margherita topping

  • 100 ml pasata (a basic tomato Purée, available in stores)
  • 85 g mozzarella, grated
  • 1 tbsp parmesan, grated
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Fresh mint, to garnish
  • Pinch of oregano and chili flakes, to sprinkle

For Blue Cheese topping

  •  50 ml pasata
  • 55 g blue cheese
  • Half yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • Half red onion, sliced as rings
  • 10 black olives, pitted
  • Pinch of oregano and chili flakes, to sprinkle

Method

  • Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar well. Make a well in the middle and pour the olive oil. Now pour the lukewarm water, little by little, kneading your way through the dough.
  • Use as much as water you require to get a stretchy, damp dough. Knead the dough till it’s elastic, at least for about 10 minutes.
  • Now, make the dough into a ball. Dust it with some flour, cover it with a tea towel and set it aside at least for about an hour. (If you want a thin crust pizza, letting it rest for half hour is good enough).
  • After about an hour, the dough should have doubled in volume. It looks billowy and beautiful. (Chemistry is such a wonderful thing, isn’t it?)
  • Preheat the oven to 240 C.  Flatten the pizza dough and divide it into 2 halves. Roll out the two halves into a rough ovalish-oblong shape. (I don’t like my pizzas to be exactly round. The abstract shape is what makes it rustic!)
  • Roll them as thin as possible because the crust inflates with heat in the oven.
  • Now for the first topping, spoon over the pasata sauce on the pizza base. Sprinkle the grated mozzarella and parmesan. Place the halved cherry tomatoes. Drizzle over the olive oil generously.
  • Now for the second topping, spoon the pasata sauce. Spread the sliced bell peppers and onion. Break the blue cheese into rough chunks and sprinkle them. Stud the black olives here and there. Splash olive oil generously.
  • Place both the pizzas in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Now if you don’t have the capacity to place both the pizzas, do so one after the other but remember to cover the second pizza with oil sprayed, cling film.
  • Just before serving, sprinkle oregano and chili flakes for the extra punch.
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