Pizza is often frowned upon and usually viewed as a calorie-packed, convenient option for those who don’t have time to cook. But it’s one of my – and apparently, the world’s – favourite foods, so I was so glad when I discovered ways to make it healthier.
First off, takeaways – we all live busy lifestyles so we’re all guilty of reaching for the takeaway menu from time to time. Instead of ordering your usual deep-dish, meaty feast of a pizza, think about it and be smart with what you order. Peruse your local takeaway menu like this here and go for something a little more health conscious; thin crust instead of deep pan, half-fat cheese, less meat and more wholesome veggies, or maybe just order half a pizza and knock up a quick side salad to go with it.
While I’m more of a fan of getting as many toppings as possible on my pizza, Ben’s favourite is the simple margherita. I’m not complaining because, well, it’s pizza, but I’d love to chuck at least a few mushrooms and pineapples on top (I know – pineapples shouldn’t be on a pizza! But try and stop me 😀)
If, like me, you quite like getting a bit messy in the kitchen, the best way to make sure your pizza is healthy is to create one from scratch. This idea may sound a little daunting to some, but this is a super easy recipe and you’ll see just how easy making a simple, delicious margherita can be.
For The Dough (Makes 2 Pizzas)
200g Strong White Bread Flour
½ 7g sachet of Dried Yeast (So 3.5g)
Pinch of Golden Caster Sugar
Pinch of Sea Salt
160ml of lukewarm water
For The Sauce
1 Tin of Plum Tomatoes
1 Clove of Garlic
A handful of chopped Basil
For The Topping
More chopped Basil
1. Firstly, make sure you have a clean and clear work surface to mix the dough on and beware, this will get messy!
Mix the yeast and sugar into the lukewarm water and leave to stand for a few minutes until the mixture starts to look a little frothy. In the meantime, pour the flour onto your work surface, mix in the salt and make a well in the middle.
Pour the water, yeast and sugar mixture into the little well you’ve just made in the flour and slowly bring everything together. Use a fork and start from the middle, mixing in a circular motion and watch the mixture transform from a porridge-like goo to something that resembles a bread dough.
Kneading pizza dough is very important for smooth and stretchy dough. Use one hand to hold the dough steady, while you pull and push the dough away from you with the other. Bring the dough back together and continue this process for 10 minutes. If you’ve got little ones, this is the time to bring them into the kitchen, they will love the feel of the dough in their hands and have great fun pulling, pushing and pounding, while you can “supervise” with a lovely cuppa.
Once the 10 minutes are up, lightly grease a bowl with a thin coating of olive oil, place in your ball of dough, cover tightly with cling film and leave on the side to prove for 45 minutes.
While you wait for your dough to rise, you can make your sauce. Gently heat the garlic and tomatoes together in a saucepan for 10 minutes with a dash of olive oil.
Take the saucepan off the heat, add the chopped basil and season to taste. You won’t need to put that much of the cooled sauce onto your pizzas, but this tomato sauce will keep in the fridge for at least a week and is perfect for mixing with some sautéed veg for a quick pasta sauce too.
Once proved, divide the dough in half. Dust your surface with flour or a thin coating of olive oil, throw your dough down and roll it out. You want it to be quite thin, about half a centimetre thick.
You’ll also need your oven to be very hot. 250°C or as high as it will go.
Transfer the rolled dough onto a baking tray, spread a few spoonfuls of the sauce on top, add slices of the fresh mozzarella – leaving gaps in-between as the cheese will melt and spread – then pop it in the oven.
Cook for 7 to 10 minutes on the bottom shelf of your oven to ensure a crispy crust. Once the cheese is beautifully melted and the crust looks crispy, bring the pizza out of the oven and sprinkle with the remaining basil.
That’s it, simple as that! Let it cool down a little (or not!) before you all dig in and once you’ve created your own pizza from scratch, you’ll want to make it yourself every time.
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