I wanted a really quick meal recently, and when I want a quick meal I instantly turn to my new favourite recipe book, Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals. I do not get paid to promote this book. I do it for love. I would also accept payment, for the record, in the form of money or more Jamie Oliver books…
The page that caught my eye was for Cheat’s Pizza – I had some nice veg in the fridge that needed used up, and a little cheese, and a few more bits and pieces that made this exactly the right recipe to try out. I will say up front that it wasn’t as good as the real deal, and I’m looking forward to trying a sourdough risen pizza base soon, but for the amount of effort I put in, I got a good dinner for two nights, and the G man got a good lunch, too. An extremely good trade for a little less than perfect pizza, I’d say.
I started by preparing my pizza dough – you’ll have to get the book if you want the recipe, but it’s a simple one with no yeast. At first it didn’t look like it wanted to be dough at all, but it came together really easily and was easy to roll out thinly, too.
I used some wholemeal flour as well as plain, as you can see from the colour. I thought it would add more flavour and texture, though it probably contributed to the base being quite heavy, even when rolled out thinly.
I put the rolled dough into a nine inch frying pan over a high heat while I made the sauce and toppings. For the sauce, I pureed 200g of tinned chopped tomatoes with a handful of basil, a couple of garlic cloves, a few anchovy fillets, a pinch of sugar, a squeeze of tomato paste and salt and pepper. I just threw everything in to the food processor and blitzed until combined. I did tell you this was a quick pizza – though it does generate a certain amount of the dreaded washing up. I set the sauce aside for now and moved on the the veg. I put another frying pan on to heat and thickly sliced a few chestnut mushrooms, halved some asparagus spears lengthways and halved a few cherry tomatoes, for good measure. I also grated some red Leicester and some parmesan cheese, sliced some left over chicken into chunks and tore up some basil leaves. I cooked the mushrooms and asparagus for a couple of minutes, then added a handful of frozen sweetcorn.
Once the mushrooms and asparagus were almost cooked through, another couple of minutes, I set them aside and turned back to the pizza. I added the tomato sauce to the base, followed by the veg from the frying pan, the chicken and then the cheese.
I put the pizza under the grill until the cheese had started to melt, and then added the tomatoes and basil before returning to the grill for another few minutes, enough time for the cheese to brown and bubble.
I served this with just a side salad, and I was very full after three slices (I cut it into eight). The crust wasn’t great – quite hard and doughy compared to the ideal crust, which for me would either be crisp and coated right to the edge with cheese, or thick and billowy for dipping into garlic mayo. Still, for less than half an hour’s work, I was delighted with my last minute dinner.
Pre-cooking the asparagus means that it’s easy to enjoy as part of a pizza, without a whole spear sliding right off the slice and hitting you on the chin when you try to take a bite. Not a good look. Be careful not to over-cook it though, or you’ll end up with stringy mush, and even if dinner’s going to be quick and easy I will not accept stringy mush.