Yep, pizza midweek is a great idea, but not when it is decidedly average and costs $29.00 for a slab of cardboard topped with inferior ingredients that are weighted down with melting grease. Don’t get me started (too late, I am…).
Like overpriced sad and bland scones, bad expensive pizza is a crime. Pizza dough costs little to make, but it does take time. If I’m looking for a speedy dinner, I won’t be faffing around making dough. I’ll buy the best pizza base I can afford. Where I won’t cut corners is with the topping. I always keep homemade tomato sauce in the freezer because it has so many uses. It can be a straight oil/garlic/canned tomato job or a more elaborate puttanesca sauce (few more added goodies), but NEVER a bought sauce. But that’s up to you. To me, they pretty well all taste the same, too sweet, as sugar is used to mask a lack of flavour in the ingredients, and too ‘herby’ – that strong dried oregano taste that just won’t go away even after a few good glugs of wine.
I certainly don’t want to sound smug (you know, lucky me, so organised I always have homemade tomato sauce to hand …). It’s just that homemade tomato sauce is better, costs less, is tastier and, importantly, you know what is in it: tomatoes and olive oil. Making a batch of good tomato sauce should be a monthly job that provides a meal and some surplus to tuck away in the freezer for nights when you are short of time or don’t have the energy to cook (then you can feel smug). Last week’s eggplant gratin is the perfect example of where to use homemade tomato sauce. Here’s a good go-to recipe. Tomato Sauce – a classic Italian sauce
To the pizza … I don’t like a mound of stuff on a pizza, just a few carefully chosen ingredients, because loading up a pizza, especially with wet ingredients, makes the base get soggy and it collapses under the weight.
You can use whatever cheese you like, but the higher the fat content of the cheese, the greasier your pizza will be. I reckon at least once in your life make a pizza with gorgeous buffalo mozzarella. If you live in New Zealand, Clevedon Buffalo Mozzarella is the one to seek out. You can see from the picture that it is whiter than cow’s milk mozzarella. It is softer, too. Milkier. It’s gorgeously gorgeous stuff. (With no editor to edit me, I can say things like that.)
I then rummage around the fridge for add-ons. I like olives, capers, salty things like that, on a pizza. And I LOVE black garlic. OMG! It might be my favourite addition to a pizza. It is sort of jammy sweet but so savoury at the same time and it makes tomato sauce taste more tomatoey. Throw on a few small cherry tomatoes, some basil leaves, give it a wee sheen of olive oil (don’t swamp it or you will have an oily soggy pizza), add a sprinkle of salt and a little pepper, then stick it in a really hot oven (220°C/425°F) and count to 8 (minutes!). Fairly basic stuff, but extremely satisfying, and closer to a real deal Napolitana pizza than anything you’ll pull out of a fridge in your supermarket.
Decent pizza bases
Home made tomato sauce
Buffalo mozzarella balls, drained
Kalamata or pimiento-stuffed olives, patted dry with paper towels
Small cherry tomatoes
Sliced black garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper