Today I made something savoury for you. A meal that will make you feel like a seasoned chef, and taste like it to. What’s not to love about that?
I’m calling this a pizza although really, it has very little traditional pizza ingredients. There is no red sauce, pepperoni, pineapple, or mozzarella. Instead, I’ve topped a garlic and basil infused pizza dough, with sweet and silky slow-roated bell peppers, salty feta, and parmesan cheese creating an amazing taste combination that is intensified even more with a balsamic reduction.
You begin by making a very simple pizza dough (this one is inspired by the Smitten Kitchen cookbook), but kicked up a notch by the addition of garlic powder and dried basil.
The beauty of this pizza dough recipe is that it only needs to rise for about 30-40 minutes which cuts out a huge amount of the rising time that more traditional recipes call for, and allows for the possibility of making it on a weeknight. I let mine rise for about 35 minutes in a warm place and it came out looking like this:
While your dough is rising you can work on your roasted peppers. The usual way to do this is to use your oven’s broiler to blacken and blister the pepper’s skin, but the technique I used here requires a lower temperature and a longer time to really intensify the flavour. When you’re finished you’re left with beautifully sweet and flavourful peppers whose skins slip right off:
After you have these preliminary steps done, you can get on with assembling your pizza. First the dough gets coated with a drizzle of olive oil and crushed garlic, then you layer on your peppers, feta cheese, and a handful of parmesan. Before it goes in the oven it should look something like this:
After it comes out, you can drizzle the whole thing with your balsamic reduction or if you’re like me, put a pool of reduction on your plate and use it as a dipping sauce. If you’re feeling a bit wary about trying the balsamic reduction have no fear! If you like to dip your bread in olive oil and balsamic vinegar you will like the balsamic reduction!
Roasted Pepper and Feta Pizza with Balsamic Reduction:
2 Smallish Bell Peppers (Red, orange, or yellow)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then place whole peppers (seeds and all) onto the sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, turning about every 15 minutes until the skins are blackened. Let cool, and then peel skin off and remove the inner core and seeds.
1/2 cup warm water (about 110 to 116 degrees)
1 1/4 tsp active instant dry yeast
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour or bread flour (I used bread flour), plus more for counter
1 teaspoon of table salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried basil
Turn oven on to warm (200 degrees) for 5 minutes; then turn it off.
Pour 1/2 cup warm water into a large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over the water, and let it stand for 5 minutes. Add the flour, garlic powder, and basil, then the salt, and mix until a rough, craggy mass forms. (At this point don’t worry if all the flour hasn’t been incorporated yet, just turn the whole mess onto the counter, it will come together as you knead it.) Knead for about 5 minutes, or until a smooth, elastic dough forms.
Coat inside of mixing bowl with PAM (the same one you used to mix the dough in is fine), place dough in the bowl, spray it with PAM, and then cover with plastic wrap. Place in previously warmed oven, and let it sit for 30 minutes, or until doubled. Remove dough from oven.
Turn the dough out onto a floured counter, and using your fingers or a rolling pin spread it into a roughly 12-inch circle.
1 cup balsamic vinegar
Pour balsamic vinegar into a small pot over high heat. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the volume has been reduced to about half. Let cool for about 10 minutes to thicken.
Pizza Assembly and Baking
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
3/4 cup crumbled feta (from a block NOT the pre-crumbled kind)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 500 degrees, and spray a baking sheet with PAM.
Transfer your dough to the sheet, by folding it in half and then lifting onto sheet.
Lightly spread dough with olive oil and garlic.
Rip the peppers into strips and small pieces with your fingers. You don’t need a knife for this, they will be so soft and silky from the oven.
Sprinkle evenly with feta cheese and parmesan.
Place in hot oven for 7-11 minutes, until brown around the edges and cheese is bubbling in the center. Serve with the balsamic reduction drizzled over top or on the side as a dipping sauce.