I was lucky enough to have been given a bag of wild garlic, which is just coming out of season and grows abundantly along the river banks around here. Learning when and where to pick many of these natural foods is all part of the learning experience in this part of the world that’s new to me, so I am grateful to my friend Cecilia for both sharing her food and local knowledge with me.
I’m not new to wild garlic; it was one of the few plants that actually grew in our shady old garden back in the UK but I never went out picking it in the wild so never had much of it to cook with. I think I made a batch of wild pesto with the leaves from our garden and may have chucked it into a salad now and again but that’s probably it. Since I was given a reasonably large portion to play with and had a small amount of spinach in the fridge that needed using up, I decided to mix the two up and make my favourite healthy homemade pizza. This is a family favourite, so I was curious to see how DD would manage with the garlic flavour given she’s quite flavour and texture sensitive these days. It’s basically the spinach, red onion, and pine nut pizza from Hugh Fearnley-Whittington’s Baby and Toddler recipe book, which is one of the two books I bought when trying to find inspiration for meals during the baby-led weaning phase with DD. The main difference between my recipe and his is that I make my own pizza base. I don’t do anything fancy with it – just buy 00 flour (extra-fine flour for pizza bases) and follow the recipe on the packet. The magic happens with the topping.
I’ve made this pizza enough times to have stopped looking at the official recipe. It’s still coming out nicely. I only usually go back to the recipe when my tweaks take me off course and I make something that’s not on a par with the original. I forgot to take any pictures – sorry – so you’ll just have to take my word for it that this recipe is well worth the effort. I’d say hands down this is the best-tasting pizza ever invented!
To make it you need this list of ingredients:
1 large or 2 smaller red onions
1 tube of tomato puree (use a much of this as you like!)
Garlic – 2 large cloves, crushed
1 bag of spinach (about 500g) or a mix of spinach and wild garlic
1 ball mozzarella
1 pizza base (freshly made or bought – or cheat, like Hugh does, and use a sheet of ready- made puff pastry)
pine nuts (to finish)
To put it all together:
- Chop the onions and put them into a frying pan with some oil. Fry them on a low heat until they’re soft. You want them to caramelise so don’t rush it.
- While the onions are cooking, wash and drain the spinach/wild garlic then toss it into a saucepan. Put the lid on it and let it steam in the washing water. Keep an eye on the heat – obviously you don’t want it to burn onto the bottom, so take off the lid and give it a stir now and again until it’s collapsed into a soggy green blob at the bottom of you pan. Then strain it into a colander.
- Rinse the spinach in cold water then wring all the water out of it using your hands. This is really important because it means when you add it to your pan of garlicky-onions it will soak up the flavours. Yum.
- When the onions are soft, add the crushed garlic. I put mine through a press, then it dissolves into the onions and makes everything super-garlicky. The IKEA one is the best I’ve found and is going cheap on Amazon.
- Let the garlic cook for a couple of minutes so that it’s dissolved in with the onions.
- Add the squeezed greens to you onion pan. Give it all good stir and leave it to sit for a minute or two.
- Roll your pizza dough onto a paper-lined baking tray and spread some tomato puree on top.
- Spread the onion mixture evenly onto your pizza base.
- Add blobs of mozzarella.
- Sprinkle the top with pine nuts (if using).
- Cook it in the oven. I’ve no idea what temperature Hugh uses (and can’t find his book right now!) so go for something in the middle of the range – Gas Mark 6 usually works for most things. It won’t take long – check after 10 minutes and leave it longer if it still looks pale and the cheese hasn’t melted. I like my pizzas with good crusts and slightly burned cheese but you might like yours a bit less crispy.
Voila! A tasty homemade pizza.
Still hungry? Next time, try putting an egg (or two) on top and you’ve got your very own version of Pizza Express’s Fiorentina pizza (my favourite) with bells on!
Disclaimer: This post includes a referral link to Amazon.