Everyone craves a pizza at some point in the week, if not every day! When you’re living on the road and can barley afford a camping pitch it's hard to imagine sinking your teeth into a perfectly cooked pizza. I'm here to tell you it's all going to be ok and you can, in fact, enjoy a delicious pizza and a huge sense of achievement by cooking this recipe in the wild. All you need is a simple dough and tomato sauce, and the magic of an Italian fried pizza is upon you: it's a recipe made for the outdoors.
Earlier this year I embarked on a journey to the foothills of Umbria, Italy where I met a man called Michael, a jazz guitarist who opened his home and his heart to fellow musicians and vegans alike. After finding his profile on Workaway (a website for intrepid travellers looking to entwine themselves in local cultures around the world), I set forth, eager to experience the romanticised Italia I'd heard so much about; where food and intense passion come together in abundance, rough and ready. After a short plane ride, three trains, a bus and a drive later, I finally arrived in Citta di Castello and felt as though I had stepped back in time. Silence was prominent, tall conifers cascaded down the banks of rolling green mountains and my voice was inaudible to the sound of birdsong. I felt that I was pleasantly drowning in the history of a dramatic landscape.
Michael’s house, or should I say Canestrello, was a classic Italian stone house, standing still in time. It could easily have been a stable boys retreat when Romans came sweeping through the land for taxes. No better place to play some music, talk politics and eat some good vegan food! The week was full of heart warming and wonderful meals, from pastas to salads to classic pizzas. Michael's laid back approach to life resonated in his cooking, with simplicity being the backbone of his dishes. He taught us that Italian food is based upon the strong knowledge of key principles of cooking, with most recipes being passed down from generations gone by.
This is where I first tasted the wonderful fried pizzas, and how I consequently learnt the method to create them. This recipe encapsulates the simplicity that's at the heart of Italian cuisine, and is best enjoyed with (and hopefully passed onto) friends and family!
Ingredients - The Dough
500G wholemeal bread flour
7g packet of yeast
3tsp of olive oil
300ml of warm water
1tsp of salt
1) In a bowl mix together the wholemeal flour, yeast and olive oil and give it a little mix.
2) Now add 300ml of luke warm water and mix until it begins to bind together.
3) Transfer to a floured surface - this could be your chopping board or the camping table (just give it a clean first).
4) Knead for 10 minutes.
5) Lightly coat the inside of a bowl with olive oil.
6) Place the dough in the bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave for 1 hour. In this time you can prepare the tomato sauce.
7) After 1 hour, knock the air out the dough and place it back on the floured surface.
8) Cut the dough in to six balls and roll in to circles (the best you can).
Ingredients - The Tomato Sauce
Splash of olive oil
1 white onion (chopped)
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1 tin of Italian chopped tomatoes
1/2 tube of passata
1/2 tsp of brown sugar
Salt and pepper
Grated vegan parmesan for the topping (nutritional yeast works well too)
Fry your onions on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until soft.Add the garlic and bay leaf and cook for a further 2 minutes.Now add your chopped tomatoes, sugar and basil and simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Stirring frequently.Mix in the passata and continue to simmer for 15 minutes on a low heat, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper.
Making the Pizzas:
Your dough is prepared and rolled out. The sauce is waiting patiently. Now its time to bring it all together in a few easy steps!
1) Chuck your frying pan on a medium to high heat and add a dash of olive oil.
2) Now add 1 of your pizza bases and cook for 2-3 minutes each side.
3) Once the dough is nicely browned on both sides, transfer on to a plate or chopping board.
4) Add a large table spoon of tomato sauce and spread it over the top of the pizza base.
5) Sprinkle some parmesan over the top and enjoy a bite or two whilst you repeat this process for the other pizza bases.
6) If you’re felling a little fancy then squeeze some lemon juice over the top before serving!
Just like that, and you're done! A beautiful set of perfectly fried pizzas... the naughty but nice treat for any wild night.