We all know that a good pizza is hard to beat. I have experimented with various alternative bases: cauliflower bases have an overpowering taste; cheese-only bases are just too fatty; and sweet potato bases are too high in carbs.
So here we have it – ta-dah! Our perfect pizza base is made from the humble courgette and a handful of almonds. It is both crisp around the edges and supports the taste of the topping without overwhelming it – and the kids love it, too.
I peel the courgette so that it doesn’t have green flecks in the dough, but use the whole vegetable if you prefer.
Italy’s “pizzaioli” (pizza-makers) are divided between those who prefer cow’s milk mozzarella and those who would only dream of using buffalo milk mozzarella. The latter contains more water but, in my opinion, the taste is superior. If you choose to use cow’s milk mozzarella, don’t buy the one the manufacturers say is for making pizza – it is rubbery and flavourless. Just buy full-fat mozzarella. Whichever you opt for, tear the cheese into pieces and drain in a sieve while you make the bases.
MAKES 2 PIZZAS
For the base
extra virgin olive oil, to grease
25g (1oz) Parmesan
2 medium eggs
1 teaspoon salt
150g (5oz) ground almonds
1 medium courgette (approximately 175–220g/6–8oz), peeled and coarsely grated
For the tomato sauce
125g (4½oz) canned whole Italian plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
For the topping
75g (2¾oz) mozzarella, drained
A selection of the following
a handful of olives
8–10 slices of salami
8–10 slices of spicy chorizo
8 anchovies, drained from oil
thin strips of red pepper
2 spring onions, finely sliced
pinch of chilli flakes
extra virgin olive oil, to finish
a few basil leaves, to finish
Per serving with the tomato sauce and mozzarella but minus the further topping 9.8g carbs, 37g protein, 65g fat, 13g fibre, 647kcal.
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/fan 180˚C/gas mark 6. Line two baking trays with baking parchment and brush them with oil.
Put all the ingredients for the pizza base together in a bowl and mix with a large metal spoon. It will form a fairly thick dough.
Divide the dough into two and put a mound of the dough onto each lined tray.
Press and shape each half with wet hands into a circle 1cm (½in) deep and 18–20cm (7–8in) in diameter
Bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, blend the ingredients for the tomato sauce together in a mixing bowl.
Remove the trays from the oven and slide the parchment onto the worktop. At this stage, the bases can also be cooled, wrapped tightly in clingfilm and kept in the fridge for 3 days or frozen for 3 months. Defrost before use.
Put the oven trays back into the oven upside down to form a very hot, flat surface to cook the pizzas on. Increase the oven temperature as hot as it will go.
When you are ready to cook the pizzas, top each one with half the tomato sauce, leaving a finger-width border around the edge.
Tear over the mozzarella and add the toppings you like. If you have a large cake slice, flat baking tray or flat wooden pizza peel, use this to move the pizzas onto the upturned trays.
Bake for 6–8 minutes until the mozzarella is bubbling and the crust becomes crisp and browned.
Remove from the oven and serve with a drizzle of oil and the basil leaves.