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  • Sneaky Veg


    Sneaky Veg PizzaDawn Cromar gives us her pizza recipe and tells us why it’s more than just a tasty mid-week meal . . .

    Words Dawn Cromar / Image istock

    It can be tricky getting kids to enjoy vegetables – the very mention of a Brussels sprout or a serving of broccoli is met with a very negative reaction in our household for one!

    But, as you may have heard me mention before, I am a great believer in getting little ones involved in the preparation and cooking as they nearly always want to sample what they’ve
    helped create.

    My children love to help prepare pizza. While a pizza might not always strike you as one of the more healthy delicacies, it can provide a great opportunity to sneak in a couple of their all important five-a-day!

    Letting kids help to make the dough for the pizza base, getting their hands mucky while kneading before spreading tomato sauce on and sprinkling on the toppings, is a fab way to get them interested.

    You can then use veggies they may not usually entertain to create pictures on the pizza; for example, faces made from slices of different coloured peppers and cherry tomatoes. We tend to combine vegetables and meat on ours so that although it will still have a fairly high fat
    content, we’re still using some healthy toppings and there are so many variations that you can find something to suit everyone.

    Our pizza making method involves preparing the base at least an hour before you plan to roll it out.

    When it comes to baking, I tend to start off quite meticulous – measuring everything precisely. But if it’s something I’ve prepared many times, like pizza base, I basically use my instincts. So this is not an overly specific recipe . . .

    1. Measure out around 12oz of strong white bread flour into a large bowl (to make around 3 medium sized pizzas). Add a teaspoon of fast acting yeast (I use the dried variety) and seasoning – we use salt and also mixed herbs but you can add in anything you fancy, like pepper or even finely sliced slivers of sun dried tomatoes. This is a good stage to let  the kids stir as they’re not likely to make as much mess with dry ingredients.
    2. Add a good glug of olive oil as well as a little warm water and stir. If the mixture is too runny, add a bit more flour. If it is not combining, add a bit more oil and/or water until it begins to stick together. Tip the mixture onto a floured worktop and knead it until it begins to take a ‘doughy’ appearance. This will usually take about 10 minutes. Once you’re happy with it, you can let the kids have a play about with it – with clean hands of course.
    3. Put the dough back into your bowl, drizzle a wee bit of olive oil over the top and cover with cling film. Leave it to rise for at least an hour.
    4. Once your dough has risen, tip it out onto a floured surface and divide it into three medium pizzas (or you can make one large one or four small ones, whatever you like). Roll the pizzas out with a floured rolling pin to your desired size. It doesn’t matter if it is perfectly round, ours tend not to be! Pop them onto a baking tray/s (if you make these a lot, it is worth investing in pizza trays).
    5. For the sauce, you can buy a readymade sauce or you can make your own by heating chopped tomatoes, garlic, sugar and seasoning in a pan. Let it simmer, before straining any lumps, re-boiling and simmering until it thickens – but the favourite sauce in our house, is the humble tomato purée.
    6. Whatever sauce you choose to use, youngsters will enjoy spreading it onto their pizzas using the back of a metal spoon.
    7. Sprinkle some mixed herbs over the tomato base and add mozzarella – if my sister is coming for tea, we leave the cheese off her pizza as she doesn’t like it (odd, I know!).
    8. You can then create your masterpiece. We usually add some pepperoni, sometimes some chopped ham and occasionally, some reduced fat smoked pork sausage. Then add halved cherry tomatoes, sweetcorn, red and yellow peppers (cut into small squares) and any other vegetable we fancy.

    In the past we’ve made pizzas with beans, sometimes we’ll add mushrooms, sliced chicken and bacon – whatever you like. My sister’s “cheeseless” creation will usually have mushrooms, chopped chilli, sliced chicken breast, sweetcorn and a sprinkling of parsley.

    Once your pizzas are complete, pop them into the oven and bake for around 15-20 minutes (you may need to adjust these timings if you are cooking more than one tray of pizzas and depending on whether or not you have a fan oven).

    Preparing this pizza can be great fun (although the clean up can take a while and is significantly less fun) and is a sneaky way to introduce new vegetables to a dish and make the kids more adventurous. You never know, they might even have a nibble of the raw veg while you’re preparing it!

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