I have mentioned this before but my sister makes a mean pizza, with a beautiful crisp base and well selected fresh toppings. I was therefore very conscious of turning out some tasty creations when I decided to make pizza for dinner last Sunday when she was staying at my house. I already had a trump card – smoked salmon – which she absolutely loves but had not had on pizza before. I could probably have bought just served her a piece of smoked salmon on top of another piece of smoked salmon and called it a smoked salmon pizza and she would have been happy, but where is the challenge in that? It was decided, I was going gourmet. A Sunday night version of gourmet, anyway. No truffles here.
First things first, I decided to caramelise some Spanish onion, which I had not done before. I just sliced some up, very slowly fried it in olive oil for 30 minutes or so, then added some brown sugar and balsamic vinegar and continued to slowly fry it while I prepared the rest of the ingredients. It ended up being lovely and sweet and quite moreish.
I also roasted a red capsicum (pepper) using my grill, peeling off the crispy black skin and slicing it into strips. Finally, I sliced some eggplant and fried it in a hot pan until light brown and soft.
The rest of the ingredients I simply chopped up.
I made three pizzas, and was incredibly glad that I finally remembered to buy myself a second pizza stone the day before, so there was minimal waiting around between pizza varieties! This is a good idea for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it means you spend less time in the kitchen (and more time lounging around on the sofa yelling at annoying characters on DVDs of shows your sister has recorded for you), and secondly it means that people won’t prematurely fill themselves up on the first pizza you make and then kick themselves for having less stomach room for the rest of the varieties.
Pizza number one was a vegetarian option, consisting of tomato base, eggplant, mushrooms, roasted red capsicum, marinated olives stuffed with chilli, grape tomatoes and bocconcini. I was a bit artistic with placing the ingredients on this pizza, but then it got a little busy on there and it’s a little hard to see my handiwork. I wanted to put some salty fishy goodness on here too, but just ended up putting some on my slices afterwards. Oh and I also put some of the Spanish onion on top after it all came out of the oven, but I forgot to capture the result on camera.
When my non-vegetarian housemate helped me eat the leftovers last night for dinner she declared that the vegetarian pizza was her favourite so I must have done something right here. It’s funny how this is often the case with pizzas, actually. Quite often you’ll find that if pizzas are served at an event, the token one or two vegetarian options disappear very quickly (to the dismay of anyone who actually is vegetarian).
Having never made a smoked salmon pizza before, I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. Should I bake the base first and then put on the toppings? Or just cook it like normal? I ended up doing a mixture of the two, by brushing the base with a little olive oil and baking until it was turning brown. The middle puffed up like a pita, and I had to pop it and kind of squash the middle back down. I then smeared the top with cream cheese and sprinkled over capers, layered the smoked salmon and then covered in the Spanish onions I’d prepared before. Finally I dolloped on little pieces of goat cheese before sticking it back in the oven to heat through. Once done I added some baby spinach on top.
The resulting pizza had a super crisp base, and all the flavours worked really nicely together. I’ll be making this again for sure, and don’t think I’ll be making any changes to my technique as it all worked quite well! Hooray for successful kitchen experimentation!