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Brand New Oven – Wood-Fired Pizza with Rocket & Cress Salad

I know what you’re thinking…

This is no time of year to be investing in an outdoor cooking oven – but the boys love pizza and I love baking, so say ‘Hello!’ to the new addition to our family:

pizza-ovenI’d recommend cooking home-made pizzas to any Mum looking for a quick dinner, it’s not as unhealthy as you might think, especially if you partner it with a hefty colourful salad.

Obviously, if you’re choosing to cook using a wood fired oven, then the time between your meal’s inception and it’s completion is going to be a little longer.

pizza-blogThere’s something so primal about lighting and kindling a fire, right in your back garden.

Although the installation of the thing did take the best part of a weekend – with the help of my boys, I can now get it fired up and cooking pizza within half an hour.

Thankfully pizza is one of those fantastic Italian creations that is super easy to knock together and you can always get your sprogs to help you out…

This recipe is totally customisable – I’ve spent a bit of time developing the right blends of flours and yeast, but if you’d prefer using a different mix – then go for it!

Wood-Fired Pizza with Rocket & Cress Salad

[Allow one pizza per sprog, you might want two – if you’re feeling naughty]

vegan-falafel-pizzaFor each 10″ Pizza:

  • 75g Plain Flour
  • 50g Strong White Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Yeast
  • Mozarella
  • 400g Passatta
  • 2 Bulbs of Garlic
  • Bunch of Fresh Basil
  • Any Toppings of Your Choosing

For the Salad:

  • Few Handfuls of Rocket
  • Handful of Cress
  • 200g Cherry Tomatoes
  • 30g Parmesan
  • 1tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

Method:

First off, if you’re lucky enough to own a wood-fired oven, you need to get that baby hot! So grab your bag of fuel (I use Volcano Wood Pellets for the quickest burn) and start your fire. You’ll need to keep poking and feeding it for around half an hour – it needs to be around 400 degrees celsius for you to get a quick bake on your pizzas.

If you’re cooking with a conventional kitchen oven, then pre-heat it to 200 degrees and get to making your dough!

Throw all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl and give it a good mix with some warm water to combine and activate the yeast. Once you’ve got your big ball of dough, you can divide it into smaller balls and palm them off to your kids to do the kneading. This will take a bit of time, so whilst their busy you can prep the toppings and salad.

This salad essentially makes itself. All you need to do is quarter the cherry tomatoes and toss them in a bowl with the leaves.

Grab whatever toppings you need – I usually go for red onion, mushrooms and red pepper. Slice them up thin, so they’ll cook quickly and not add too much moisture to your pizza.

By this point, your helpful sous chefs should have finished the dough. Wrestle them off their hands and leave them to prove in a warm place, whilst you tend to the fire.

Once the little dough balls have risen to twice the size, knock the air out of them for a few minutes and roll them out thin.

Finely chop the garlic and basil, mix them together with the passata and a little seasoning and then smear a helpful dollop over each pizza base.

Get your sprogs to top their own pizzas (somehow ours always end up looking like faces!) and then you’re ready to bake.

In a wood-fired oven they’ll only take 2 minutes each, but a conventional oven might take around 6-8, just make sure to keep an eye on them.

When you’re ready to eat – finish the salad with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a healthy grating of Parmesan cheese – then enjoy your rustic Italian dinner!

[Wood-fired ovens are a wonderful installation to have in the back garden. They don’t necessarily have to be that large, but you’ll still need to have a good amount of space around – so they’re not best suited for those with gardens on the smaller end of the spectrum.]