Pizza with tomato and salsa verde

Pizza with tomato and salsa verde

Pizza rossa con salsa verde

By
From
Acquacotta
Makes
2 pizzas
Photographer
Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

In Porto Ercole there is a hole-in-the-wall pizzeria called Grano, where they sell long trays of fresh-out-of-the-oven pizza, cut into squares and sold by the slice. This particular topping is inspired by one of my favourites from Grano: anchovies and salsa verde, a zingy, bright sauce of parsley and capers. It packs quite the punch and you won’t even miss the cheese.

The salsa verde recipe is adapted from a recipe from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well (1891). It makes about 200 g of salsa, so it’s much more than you’ll need for this pizza – but it is so good, you’ll want to have extra. It keeps well in a glass jar in the fridge and is a great sauce to have on hand for topping anything from simple grilled fish or meat to boiled eggs and boiled new potatoes. It’s even good on toast.

While the parsley lends this sauce its bright colour, its name and its volume, it is really the capers that give it its distinct, punchy flavour. Go for capers packed in salt (rather than brine) for superior flavour. The same goes for the anchovies. Salt-packed anchovies are my preference, even if anchovies preserved in oil are more convenient. Just don’t skimp on soaking these ingredients properly before using – and taste for seasoning before adding any extra salt.

If you’re making these for a snack, this amount will serve six. As a meal, it serves two hungry people who want their own whole pizza.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

Dough

Quantity Ingredient
20g fresh yeast
or 7g active dry yeast
280ml lukewarm water
500ml plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 handful semolina, for dusting

Toppings

Quantity Ingredient
6 salt-packed anchovies
or 12 anchovy fillets in oil
100g salsa verde
60ml extra-virgin olive oil, extra for drizzling
240g tomato passata

Salsa verde

Quantity Ingredient
1 salt-packed anchovy, (or 2 anchovy fillets in oil)
2 heaped tablespoons salt-packed capers
1/4 brown onion
1/2 garlic clove
100g flat-leaf parsley
10 basil leaves
1 lemon, juiced
60ml extra-virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Stir or crumble the yeast into the water in a mixing bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes to soften. Sift the flour into a wide bowl with the salt and pour over the yeast and water mixture, plus the olive oil. Mix together to create a smooth but sticky dough. Knead the dough on a lightly floured work surface until elastic and no longer sticky; this just takes a few minutes.
  2. Place the ball of dough in a large, lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean, damp tea towel or plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place free from draughts until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. Alternatively, keep it in the fridge and let it rise for 8–12 hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 250°C.
  4. If using anchovies packed in salt, rinse them under running water to remove any excess salt, then place them in a bowl of fresh water to soak for 15 minutes – for removing spines. Do the same with the capers if using capers packed in salt. If using anchovies preserved in oil, drain them on paper towel until ready to use.
  5. For the salsa verde, blend the anchovies, capers, onion, garlic, herbs and lemon juice together thoroughly with a food processor or stick blender, and add the olive oil until you have a paste-like consistency. Season with salt and pepper. For the pizza topping, stir about half the salsa verde into about 60 ml of olive oil so that it is a little more fluid. Set aside.
  6. In a small bowl, season the tomato passata with a generous pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Set aside.
  7. Divide the dough into two even portions. Work with one at a time (keeping the rest of the dough covered) on a work surface dusted with semolina (or flour). Roll or stretch out the dough to a thickness of about 3 mm in the middle (the edges can be thicker) and transfer to a rectangular baking tray or a round pizza tray.
  8. Spoon over the tomato passata mixture to just lightly cover the base, leaving a 2 cm border around the edge. Place the anchovy fillets evenly here and there over the pizza and drizzle over some olive oil. You can bake the pizzas one by one, on the lowest shelf possible, but if you’d rather have them ready at the same time, position the two pizzas on two shelves in the oven, one on the lowest shelf possible and the other in the middle of the oven. Bake for a total of 12–15 minutes, swapping them around halfway. The crust should be golden and crunchy and the top should look almost dry, with the anchovies sizzling.
  9. Remove from the oven, spread over dollops of salsa verde here and there, and serve.

Note

  • This dough can easily be frozen – double-wrap the portions well in plastic wrap and freeze. When you want to use it, thaw in the fridge overnight or on the kitchen bench for 2 hours. Let it come to room temperature before using as normal.

Salt-packed capers and anchovies

  • To prepare salted capers for a recipe, first rinse off any excess salt under running water, then place the capers in a bowl full of fresh water and let them soak for 15 minutes. Once a jar is opened, any remaining salt-packed capers not used for the recipe should be stored in the refrigerator. They keep very well.

    Anchovies packed in salt are ‘ fresher’ and fleshier and should always be stored in the refrigerator. They do need a little more attention and care in preparing them for dishes, but you’ll find it’s worth the (tiny) bit of extra effort. First, they need to be rinsed of any excess salt very well and soaked like the capers for 15 minutes. This will soften them so they are more pliable. Then their spines need to be pulled out – starting from the tail end, split them lengthways by pulling them apart. Then you can remove the spine and you will have 2 anchovy fillets ready to go.
Tags:
Italian
Tuscany
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