As quick dishes go, the pizza’s ease of preparation has pretty much ensured its constant inclusion in our weekly food choices, whether it’s for the after-sport fuel-up, the after-drinking soak-up or end of the week fuss-free meal to relax with.
It is fascinating to watch how many we-all-taste-the-same, ready-to-bake pizzas are sold, given they are so easy to make with all the individual components now conveniently (at a price) pre-prepared — from pre-cooked bases, to ready-made pestos and sauces, grated cheeses and sliced mushrooms (really, we can’t slice mushrooms!).
To be fair, these pre-prepared foods are super for a family make-your-own pizza night or a bach meal but, if we are willing to start from scratch, it can be richly satisfying to give this easy (or should that be lazy?) well-worn family favourite a makeover from hum-drum tummy filler to tart “par-excellence”.
Throw out the pre-cooked, all-too-often dry pizza base, whizz up and roll out a light-textured cream cheese pastry with standard flour or my gluten-free flour mix. Replace the habitually over-seasoned oregano and tomato paste with a hummus, seasoned or plain; its flavour is more subtle, it will provide protein and is a delightfully moist base to support the remaining toppings. Farewell the ham — all too often it’s a bland imposter — and break up a small amount of richly flavoured hot smoked salmon. As for cheese, avoid the run-of-the-mill pizza blends and use a fresh ricotta or finely grate a little hard cheese, like a pecorino, brebis or an aged gouda; its stronger flavour means less is required. Casually flip over the sides of the cream cheese pastry and bake the tart until the pastry is golden and the filling piping hot. Makeover completed with style.
Gluten-free flour blend
Sift together 1½ cups brown rice flour, ½ cup potato starch, ¼ cup white rice flour, ¼ cup tapioca flour and 1 tsp xanthan gum (I sometimes make this 1¼ if I am doing scones)
This wonderful cream cheese pastry recipe works with flour and the gluten-free flour blend listed above.