PIZZAS are possibly the most popular Italian food all over the world, particularly in India over the recent years. The appetising appeal of pizzas lies in the aroma of freshly baking dough crust and the versatility of toppings. Pizzas can be a snack or a meal in themselves.
The word pizza in Italian actually means any type of cake or pie. The pizza that is popular though is Pizza a la Napolentana, a dish which is typically from Naples. This consists of a layer of dough which is rolled out to the desired thickness and topped with a rich tomato sauce and Mozzarella cheese. Traditionally, these also have fresh chopped tomatoes, black olives, anchovies as well as a sprinkling of oregano leaves on them.
Pizzas are cooked in an oven till the edges turn golden and crunchy and the cheese topping melts. This is then cut into wedges and should be eaten with the fingers if you want to be very Italian about it. Pizzas are available and can be made in a wide variety of toppings which can satisfy the fussiest vegetarian or please the strictest non-vegetarian as well.
3 cups of flour
250 ml of lukewarm water
1 1/2 teaspoons of active dried yeast
or 2 tablespoons fresh compressed yeast
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
freshly ground white pepper
Mix the fresh yeast, water, and sugar in a large bowl and set it aside for 15-20 minutes or till the surface is foamy. Stir in the olive oil and sift in the flour and salt over this mixture. Season with salt and white pepper and mix it well. Knead the dough well until it is smooth and elastic. Grease a large bowl with a little oil and place the dough in it turning it around till the entire dough is lightly greased all over. Cover the bowl with the dough in it with a clean cloth and let it be in a warm place for about two-three hours. The dough should have doubled in size and become light in texture. (If needed you can refrigerate the dough after it has risen and leave it in the refrigerator, covered in cling film, to use it the next day.) Lightly knead the dough and then divide the dough into half and roll out the base to the size of your baking tray. Lightly grease the baking tray and place the rolled out pizza base on it. Leave it for about 15 minutes before you add the toppings to it.
750 gms or three cups of ripe tomatoes
6 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon of the dried basil
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon brown sugar salt and freshly ground black pepper
Take the tomatoes and wash and peel them all, chop these into medium sized pieces and place in a large heavy bottomed pan. Peel and crush the garlic cloves and add them to the pan as well. Add in all the remaining ingredients as well and place it on the fire and let it simmer on a low heat stirring it occasionally for about 30 minutes.
Taste the seasoning and add any extras that are needed according to your taste. Remove the bay leaf before you spread the sauce on the pizza.
Let the sauce cool down and then spread it on the pizza base and top with Mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven till the pizzas are golden and crisp and the cheese melts.
This is the basic sauce recipe. You can add anything else that you wish on top of this before adding the cheese. Sliced sausages, salami, cooked chicken bits, baby corn, capsicum, onion rings, broccoli .The choice is yours.