A few days ago, a pizza bianca popped up on my Pinterest feed, and immediately I knew I’d be creating something similar. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.
Pizza bianca is pizza without the tomato sauce. It’s really rather excellent. My favourite pizza bianca was with spicy italian sausage and chilli oil, which I used to get from our local Italian restaurant when we lived in London.
In the end, I made pizza bianca with spinach and ricotta, artichoke, grated chilli, mozzarella (standard) and parmesan. If I’d had pine nuts to hand I’d have sprinkled on a few of those, but I didn’t. So I couldn’t.
Either way, it went down extremely well.
To make this pizza bianca (and you absolutely won’t regret it), you’ll need:
White bread flour, yeast, salt, water, olive oil, to make the pizza dough. I make mine in the breadmaker, but if you don’t have access to one of those, Jamie Oliver has a good recipe.
Spinach. Fresh or frozen. I usually have frozen spinach in my freezer, it’s great for curries, pasta sauces, and now pizza! If you are using fresh, be sure to wilt it down before mixing it with the ricotta. You’ll need a 100g bag of fresh spinach, or a good handful or two of frozen.
A tub of ricotta. I made 2 pizzas for 4 of us and I used just over 100g of ricotta.
Artichoke antipasti. The stuff in the jars that comes in oil is perfect.
1 large ball of mozzarella per pizza.
1 fresh red chilli (I freeze mine. They freeze incredibly well, and are super easy to grate when frozen)
Optional: pea shoots to put on top of the cooked pizza.
Make the pizza dough, and set aside until you are ready to use it. If you’re making it by hand, make sure to store well covered in a warm place so it rises well. A sunny windowsill is perfect. Remember to knock it back before you use it.
Roll and stretch the dough into the shape and size bases you want. A thinner base is much better than a thicker, doughy one, for any pizza. If you have any dried corn meal (polenta), sprinkle it on to the base and press in with your fingers. This not only gives the base a really nice flavour, but it looks lovely when cooked, as well.
This bit is important: Make sure you have the base on the oven shelf or tray you’re cooking it on BEFORE you add the toppings. Otherwise it will be almost impossible to get in the oven. Trust me on this.
Mix together the spinach and ricotta. It will taste bland, so season well, with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Don’t skip the nutmeg. Spread it over the base.
Next, add the artichokes, and mozzarella. Don’t scrimp on these, either.
Finally, grate on the chilli and parmesan. How pretty does the bright red chilli look against the white mozzarella? It’s nice to grate it on as you don’t get great big chunks of chilli, but there is always a delicious warming heat there.
Bake in the oven at 220°C (gas mark 7, or 425°F) until the base is golden, and the cheese is bubbling (around 20-25 mins – but this will depend entirely on the oven).
To serve, chuck a few pea shoots on the finished pizza, and then tuck in.