My last week at In Sabina was glorious. The September sun was the most beautiful temperature, soft and gentle even in the mid-afternoon and the evenings were a little cooler, with spectacular sun sets and the clearest night skies. Somehow, this week I managed to find lots of time for yoga and with no one on the big platform in the mornings, I spent much time stretching and moving and breathing in every last breath of the beautiful clear air before launching into cooking lunch each day. We had a group of Swiss yogis this week, who were great fun and fun of life, although i'm not surprised there was a sense of liveliness around with the sheet quantity of coffee being consumed. They were fiends through and through!
On my last night at In Sabina, we decided to cook pizza for the group in the lovely out-door, wood-fired oven. Attai, my fabulous sous chef from Afghanistan is training to be a pizza chef at the moment, so he was only delighted to get the fire going! He did, however, look completely horrified when I told him we would be making the pizza bases using spelt flour. This is obviously not the done thing in the world of Italian pizza restaurants but I reassured him they would be totally delicious - and nutritious! He looked at me with even more horror as I stood griddling aubergines and courgettes and preparing a whole array of colourful vegetable toppings, as he obviously realised the pizzas would all be vegetarian. I daren't tell him some of them would even be cheese free and vegan!! What did he expect in a vegetarian kicthen!
Perfect Pizza Recipe!
500g wholegrain spelt flour (or half wholegrain and half white spelt)
15g fresh yeast (or 5g dried yeast)
325ml warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
Mix the flour with the salt in a bowl
Dissolve fresh yeast in a little of the warm water and add olive oil
Add this to the flour and mix to form a dough. Should be quite sticky
Turn onto surface and knead until smooth and elastic
Place in a bowl covered with cling film and allow to rise (it should double in size)
Meanwhile, preheat the oven - a very hot oven is best
Roll out dough to whatever size pizza you desire, place on a baking tray scattered with polenta or other coarse flour and add toppings of choice
(Of course if you're doing this in an outside oven, then the pizza goes straight in on a paddle)
Bake until the base looks coloured and crisp
Make a tomato sauce by roasting or cooking down in a pan some fresh tomatoes with olive oil and garlic (add oregano if you wish)
Griddle aubergine and courgettes
Roast some squash in very thin rounds or slices
Have a selection of cheeses at hand - mozzerella, goats cheese, blue cheese or for a cheese free pizza, just got for extra veg!
Rocket and Basil
My favourite combination:
Roasted tomato sauce with griddled aubergine, sun-dried tomato, black olives and a big handful of rocket added when the pizza comes out of the oven!