Anchovy, Aubergine & Spinach Pizza

One of the causes of our ill-health is our attachment to the familiar. For example, if we are to eat choley, it must be with greasy, deep fried, refined-flour bhature and so on. And if we are to eat pizza, it must be dripping with cheese and can only have pepperoni, chicken, paneer or mushrooms on it. Also, we tend to believe that so-called healthy ingredients cannot be tasty or be combined with other foods.

Not true.

This pizza tasted wonderful and a week later, Indu still tells me how much she loved that pizza. Here’s how easy it was to make.

A pizza has a few basic parts.

  • Base
  • Sauce
  • Toppings
  • Cheese

Depending on how the toppings are prepped and how much moisture is in your sauce, you want them under or over the cheese.

Base: APF flour, instant yeast, salt, water and milk – I tend to throw the lot together, make a nice smooth dough, let it rise for a bit, then knock it back down, roll it out, lay on the sauce, toppings etc. and that’s that. I also use a little more yeast than is usually recommended.

Sauce: Pureed tomatoes, garlic, freshly ground black pepper, dried basil (because I have a tough time finding fresh), onion powder – I add the tomato puree, pepper and basil and onion powder and slowly cook it for a long time, perhaps an hour or so, adding extra water as required. Over time, the sauce develops a wonderfully complex and deep set of flavours. Remember to season it with a bit of salt before taking it off the flame.

Cheese: I use a blend of cheeses if I have a choice or whatever is available. As much as we love our cheese, remember you love food more and food, is more than just cheese. There are so many flavours in play in a well made pizza. Why smother them with a pile of cheese? Experiment with cheeses and blends of different types and see what works for you. Quality over quantity is worth a shot, yes?

Toppings: Our toppings were anchovies, aubergine and spinach. The spinach was blanched in boiling water, drained well and chopped into bite-sized pieces. The aubergine was thinly sliced, sprinkled with salt, left for 20 minutes, washed an drained. The anchovies were fresh, coated with seasoned flour (dried basil, pepper, onion powder, salt) and shallow fried.

To assemble your pizza, just roll out the flour into whatever size or shape you want, smear the sauce over it, the amount depending on how intensely flavoured it is. Don’t go by having a red-red look to your pizza – if the flavours are right, that’s enough sauce. Lay on the toppings. In this case, we chose to put the cheese next and then the toppings on top of the cheese.

The pizza cooked for 20-25 minutes at 180 degrees in a pre-heated oven. The only ingredient that needed cooking, was the base and the aubergine, the rest being pre-cooked.

The outcome was a wonderful pizza with complex flavours and ‘grown-up’ toppings. We drizzled on a glug or so of some good olive oil to complete the dish.

My bases need some more work, though the rest turned out well. If you have a good recipe for the base, please do share.

Sid Khullar

Sid Khullar is the founder of Chef at Large, a blog that began in 2007. He enjoys cooking, writing, travelling and technology in addition to being a practising Freemason. Health and wellness is a particularly passionate focus. Sid prefers the company of food and animals to most humans, and can be reached at sid.khullar@chefatlarge.in.