Slow roasted tomato and oregano pizza

Homemade pizza is a regular on the menu in our house. The children like to get involved in making it, especially kneading the dough and putting on the toppings. As you can imagine, it can turn into quite a messy affair!

This recipe for slow roast tomato and oregano pizza is a firm family favourite and the perfect way to put to good use all those gorgeous tomatoes and herbs coming into plentiful supply this time of year.

We have lots of beautiful oregano in the herb garden at the moment

You do need to plan ahead a little with this one. The tomatoes are slow roasted in a low oven for four to five hours, giving them an incredibly intense, sweetly caramelised flavour and a gorgeously sticky, slightly chewy texture.

Trust me, it’s worth the effort. They taste sublime and are fantastic on pizza, as well as in salads, quiches or served with olives and cold meats as part of an antipasto.

Slow roasted tomato and oregano pizza

Makes four pizzas

For the slow roasted tomatoes:

8 cherry tomatoes
6 medium tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper

For the dough:

400g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 x 7g sachet fast action dried yeast
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
250ml luke warm water
1 tbsp olive oil

For the topping:

Passata, about half a jar
Mozzarella, 2 x 250g balls
Two handfuls fresh oregano, leaves picked

Firstly, prepare the tomatoes – I suggest the night before.

Preheat the oven to 140°C /Gas Mark 1 or use the bottom oven of an Aga.

Cut the tomatoes in half and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle over the olive oil, and sprinkle on the oregano and sugar, and season to taste. Place in the oven and roast for four to five hours, until the tomatoes are shrivelled but still sweet and juicy.

To make the pizza dough, put the flour, salt, dried yeast and oregano into a large mixing bowl and mix well.

Make a well in the middle and pour in the lukewarm water and oil. Gradually work the flour into the liquid, making a soft dough. If it’s too dry, add a drop more water. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour.

Flour your surface before tipping the dough onto it. Knead the dough by stretching it away from you, then pulling back into a ball. Do this for five minutes or so, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover loosely with cling film and put in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 or use the middle of the top oven of an Aga.

Uncover the risen dough and punch it back down. Flour the surface again and divide the dough into four balls. Stretch or roll out each ball until you have a thin circle about 22cm across. Place the pizzas onto slightly oiled baking sheets.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of passata onto each pizza, smoothing out with the back of the spoon. Next add the roast tomatoes and oregano leaves and finish with torn pieces of mozzarella.

Bake your pizzas for 15-20 minutes and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before devouring.

I’m entering this tasty pizza into the June Herbs on Saturday blog challenge over at Lavender & Lovage. Karen always receives heaps of delicious looking recipes for her blog challenges, so make sure you go and take a look at the other entries!

I’m also adding it to the One Ingredient blogging challenge, as the ingredient in question is the tomato. The challenge is run by Laura at howtocookgoodfood and Nazima at Londonworking mummy.

Highs and lows in the Bangers & Mash kitchen – part 3

Talk about highs and lows this week – more like the sublime to the ridiculous!

I just can’t stop smiling!

I haven’t come down from the ceiling since Thursday when I discovered I am a finalist for a national blogging award. Don’t worry, I won’t go on about it again here. I’ve been doing enough of that already on this blog and on Twitter, so suffice to say I am really rather chuffed.

I’m not the only spod in the family though. Just a few days earlier my daughter Jessie received a Blue Peter badge for a poem she had sent in. She’s already working out how to achieve her next one. I was a huge Blue Peter fan when I was little, so as you can imagine I’m a very proud mum…

But back to the food. I’ll get the hideous low out of the way first.

We had good friends over to stay at the weekend, who have really encouraged me in my blogging antics. There was a lot of good humoured banter in the week running up to their visit about high expectations of the culinary delights in store.

So I thought I’d impress them with a retro feast of posh ham, eggs and chips. While the home-baked ham was very good, my homemade chips were an absolute disaster. They completely disintegrated on attempting to serve. Wrong kind of potato possibly, or was the oven too hot or too cool? Serves me right trying to make my own chips for the first time instead of doing what I usually do and cooking the shop-bought frozen variety. At the last minute I had to send the lads out to the local fish and chips shop in order to salvage the meal. Whoops.

Thankfully though the ham got a big thumbs up. I did Nigella Lawson’s ham in cola again – I last tried it at Christmas and absolutely fell in love with it. I know it sounds crazy but baking a ham in coca cola is fantastic and you end up with a beautifully moist, smokey, almost barbecue-flavoured piece of meat.

My next high point in the kitchen was a potato, cabbage and smoked bacon soup. I accept it doesn’t sound exactly like food porn but it was incredibly tasty and very satisfying.

Another highlight was my oregano and roast tomato pizza. I slow roast the tomatoes for about five hours in the bottom oven of the Aga, giving them an incredibly intense flavour and gorgeously sticky, slightly chewy texture. Simply sublime.


So now time for the detailed meal plans. Oh and if you do have any tips for homemade chips (in the oven rather than a deep fat fryer), I’m all ears!

Monday 30 April
Lunch: butternut squash soup
Dinner: pasta with wild garlic pesto

Tuesday 1 May
Lunch: cheese and chutney rolls
Dinner: sweet potatoes stuffed with cream cheese and spring onions

Wednesday 2 May
Lunch: pitta bread with hummus and salad
Dinner: fish pie

Thursday 3 May
Lunch: wraps with carrot, sultana and coriander salad
Dinner: potato, cabbage and smoked bacon soup

Friday 4 May
Lunch: Thai-style cauliflower soup (F)
Dinner: chilli con carne

Saturday 5 May
Lunch: bread and cheese
Dinner: cola ham, egg and chips followed by raspberry chocolate mousse

Sunday 6 May
Lunch: pub lunch
Dinner: bread and cheese

Monday 7  May
Lunch: pasta salad
Dinner: oregano and roast tomato pizza

Tuesday 8 May
Lunch: salad wraps
Dinner: wild garlic pesto and spaghetti

Wednesday 9 May
Lunch: pitta bread, hummus and salad
Dinner: cous cous, courgette and broad bean salad

Thursday 10 May
Lunch: ham and salad rolls
Dinner: bangers and mash bake (recipe to follow)

Friday 11 May
Lunch: grilled chicken and rice salad with artichoke hearts
Dinner: mushroom omelette

Saturday 12 May
Lunch: slow roast beef, roast potatoes and vegetables, followed by rhubarb crumble
Dinner: bread and cheese

Sunday 13 May
Lunch: warm bean and potato salad with leeks and smoked bacon
Dinner: bread and cheese

F = from freezer

Homemade pizza

As you can see, Mia is into basil on her pizza

Pizza has to be one of the best things to cook with children, and homemade pizzas always taste so much better than the ready-made variety. Children, well mine anyway, seem more inclined to eat something if they’ve been involved in the making of it.

OK, so it might turn into a slightly messy affair. I used to come close to panic attacks when I first started cooking with the kids and ingredients would go flying everywhere.

But I’ve learned to just go with the flow; it can all be cleaned up afterwards.

It really is worth it to get your children used to helping make meals and forming a positive relationship with food.

I much prefer to make my own dough but I am not too proud to admit to cheating now and again. I generally keep some shop-bought pizza bases in the freezer too; perfect for when little friends stay for tea unexpectedly. My daughters think it’s great to make pizzas with their friends and having some frozen bases on standby means we can always rustle some up at a few moments’ notice.

If you have a little more time though (pizza dough takes an hour to rise), I would strongly recommend making your own dough from scratch. It is so incredibly easy and I’ll never get over the magical feeling of seeing the dough increase to double its size. It’s like a science experiment in the kitchen.

What ingredients you put on top of your pizza is very much down to personal taste and, of course, what your children like to eat. If you make a little pizza each, everyone can choose their own favourite toppings.

And don’t forget, cold pizza is great the following day in a packed lunch, so always a good idea to make a bit extra.

We like a lot of topping in our house!

Homemade pizza

Makes four pizzas

For the dough:

400g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 7g sachet fast action dried yeast
1 tsp dried oregano
250ml luke warm water
1 tbsp olive oil

Passata, about half a jar

Jessie and Mia’s favourite toppings:

Cherry tomatoes, halved
Small red, green or yellow pepper, chopped small
Fresh basil, torn
Pitted black olives
Ham or salami, chopped
Capers
Artichoke hearts, quartered
Mozzarella (a couple of balls, around 250g each, should be enough for four pizzas)

To make the dough, put the flour, salt, dried yeast and oregano into a large mixing bowl and mix well.

Make a well in the  middle and pour in the lukewarm water and oil. Gradually work the flour into the liquid, making a soft dough. If it’s too dry, add a drop more water. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour.

Flour your surface before tipping the dough onto it. Knead the dough by stretching it away from you, then pulling back into a ball. Do this for five minutes or so, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover loosely with cling film and put in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.

Jessie demonstrates how to eat pizza

Uncover the risen dough and punch it back down. Flour the surface again and divide the dough into four balls. Stretch or roll out each ball until you have a thin circle about 22cm across. Place the pizzas onto slightly oiled baking sheets.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of passata onto each pizza, smooth out with the back of the spoon, and then let the artist in you run free while you apply your choice of toppings, leaving the mozzarella until the end.

Bake your pizzas for 15-20 minutes and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before devouring.