Mushroom & Pepper Pizza

Every wholefood Café in the world has a variation of that good old vegetarian standby the Pizza. Ours tries to bridge the gap between biscuit-like bases that are sharp enough to sever your tongue if you are not a very careful eater and huge wholemeal loaves with the thinnest smear of tomato paste on top. Yes, we've all eaten in those places, they usually have a lasagne on the menu that is about seventy percent brown lentils and as tasty as a door stop. This pizza should end up with enough bread base to make you think you have actually had a meal and a goodly dollop of really tasty sauce for the enjoyment, whole food doesn't have to be a penance.

Ingredients

Base
2 tablespoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1lb 8oz (675g) wholemeal flour
1 pint (600ml) warm water

Topping
4oz (100g) mushrooms
1 red or green pepper
1 large onion
1 clove garlic
4 tablespoons tomato pureé
2 tomatoes
8oz (225g) cheddar or mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons basil
salt and pepper
olive oil

Method

  1. Mix flour, salt and dried yeast thoroughly in a bowl. When mixed add the water and, using your fingers work the mixture up into a dough. Cover the bowl with a tea-towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  2. Whilst the dough is rising make the sauce.
  3. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic and gently sauté in olive oil with the herbs until the onion is soft.
  4. Wash and roughly chop the tomatoes and add them to the onions along with the tomato pureé, cover and allow to cook gently for 15 to 20 minutes. Season to taste.
  5. Turn on the oven and let it pre-heat to 250°C/500°F/523K/Gas Mark 9.
  6. Wash and slice the mushrooms and pepper. Grate or crumble the cheese.
  7. By now the dough should have risen so take it out of the bowl and put it on a floured board or work top and knead it thoroughly, using your fists. Work out all the aggression that has built up from reading stupid cookery books and really knock it back. Now roll out onto an oiled baking sheet either as two pizza shapes or one huge tray full. This amount of dough will fill the biggest baking sheet your oven can handle if it is rolled out thinly. If you have time you can leave the pizza base to stand in the warm for a second rise, another 10 minutes will do, but you can cook it straight away if you are starving.
  8. Spread the sauce mixture on the base and cover with half the cheese. Layer the sliced mushroom and pepper and then top with the rest of the cheese. You can sprinkle on a little olive oil and more oregano if you like.
  9. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the dough has risen and browned.
  10. If you like a richer sauce finely chop another 4oz (100g) of mushrooms and sauté them with the onions and tomato mixture. The juice will run from the mushroom and add it's own delicious flavour to the sauce. This is the traditional Eighth Day method that has stood us in good stead for over twenty five years person and beast (little bit of political correctness there, hope you liked it).

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