Brussels sprouts are funny old things. I tend to eat them boiled once a year on my Christmas dinner plate, and then they are forgotten about for another 12 months. I have never given these ‘baby cabbages’ much thought, aside from the odd food magazine rolling out the old ‘sprouts and pancetta’ line in their Christmas edition. Hmm, inspired.
However you may well know I have a penchant for a certain food blog called Shutterbean. All of a sudden my weekly shopping basket is seeing a lot more winter veg, a lot less salads and big hunks of butternut squash nestled alongside the kettle chips and pinot grigio. In Aberdeen the weather has gone from suitably bracing to full on arctic blast, and so having a repertoire to browse on my smartphone on the bus that encompasses all the very best of winter veg without the old tired ideas is somewhat inspirational.
I have toyed in the past with the idea of a pizza recipe, but the dough is often the problem. To rise or not to rise? To knead or not to knead? Plain flour, bread flour or self raising flour? The issues with this particular doughy dilemma have often led me to the easy route of the frozen aisle in Tesco. But not anymore. I have devised a wonderfully soft, quick-knead dough that yields a crisp, yet slightly soft base to top with whichever you please, going from dough to dinner in around 40 minutes.
But please don’t be alarmed at the sight of the dreaded sprout adorning this winter pizza. Shredded and marinated with balsamic and oil lifts the flavour of the little leafy things and transforms them into a sort of autumnal baked salad alongside the usual suspects of tomato, and cheese. Add a little fried bacon for a smokey aroma, sliced garlic for a subtle zing and half moons of red onion for a dinner treat that doesn’t exactly squeal unhealthy. Push aside your preconceptions of the humble sprout and branch out into unchartered territory with a wholly original take on Italian eating.
Adapted slightly from Shutterbean and Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals
You Will Need
For the base
1 ½ cups self raising flour (roughly 375ml on a measuring jug)
½ cup tepid water (125ml)
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
For the toppings
4-5 brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
2 tablespoon olive oil
½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
¼ red onion, sliced
3 rashers of streaky smoked bacon, chopped
125g ready-shredded mozerella
To make the base, place the flour, oil, water and a twist each of salt and pepper in a bowl and mix. Bring together with your hands and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for roughly 5 minutes, pulling and stretching with your hands and pressing in with your knuckles to make the pizza base soft and stretchable. Once formed into a smooth ball, flatten down and roll to a rough circle with a rolling pin, until the base is around 1mm in thickness. Oil a baking sheet and carefully place the pizza base on top. Brush with a little extra oil and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 220oc/200oc fan/Gas Mark 6. Place the brussels, 1 tablespoon of oil and the balsamic together in a bowl, mix and leave to marinate. Stir together the tomato paste and dried herbs for a quick pizza sauce and spread evenly over the pizza dough. Top with the cheese, sliced onions, marinated brussels and garlic slices.
Fry the chopped bacon in a frying pan over a medium heat until beginning to crisp. Scatter evenly across the pizza then bake in the oven for roughly 15-20 minutes, checking regularly to make sure the edges don’t burn. Slice up and serve on a wooden board.