In Brazil, like many other places in the world, we are absolutely crazy about pizzas. It almost feels like pizza is a Brazilian dish! Pizza delivery shops are literally found on every corner of my beloved country. In the metropolis of São Paulo alone a staggering figure 1 million pizzas are consumed every day. There are approximately 5000 pizza shops over there meaning São Paulo is only behind New York City in number of shops. Our preference is for thin crust rather than thick and some of our favourite toppings are Calabresa (Italian-type of sausage) and Mozzarella, 4 cheese, Marguerita and Portuguesa (ham, olives, eggs, capsicum and mozzarella). Fondly nicknamed ‘a redonda’ (or round) the Brazilian pizza is more loaded with toppings than the Italian ones and we have a preference for wood-fired pizzas.
No wonder Italian food and pizzas are so popular all over the world. Pizzas are not only delicious to eat but also a joy to make. When it is pizza night here in our home, the atmosphere totally changes and it feels like we are being tele transported to an Italian canteen. I instantly turn on Funiculí Funiculá by Pavarotti to get the mood going. First is the smell of yeast that comes from the dough. Then the preparation of the tomato sauce, that spreads a fragrant combination of olive oil, garlic, tomato and basil all over the kitchen. If that wasn’t enough there is the smell of pizza baking in the oven. It is just too much temptation for the taste buds!
Furthermore pizza nights bring the family together, everyone enjoys getting involved with pizza making, specially the kids. My kids have so much fun kneading the dough and they love to scatter the toppings over the pizza. They also enjoy watching the pizzas change colour through the oven window and, of course, they love to eat them!
What are the secrets to a good pizza? Start with lots of love in the kitchen and get the family involved, ask for topping ideas, go shopping together, give everyone a task and switch on some music you love. Ideally take the time to prepare a home-made pizza dough or try to buy a good quality one. Like the Italians, use the freshest ingredients you have in hand, so there is 100% chance your pizza will taste amazing. I am lucky to have access of great produce here in Tasmania to make my pizzas, like tomatoes, herbs and cheese. The Australian extra-virgin olive oils are of the highest quality with some of the brands amongst the best in the world and that makes a great difference to the pizza. The choice of cheese is also very important: if your cheese is tasteless your pizza will end up bland.
Today Brazil meets Italy with my pizza dish, good old tomato sugo, mixed the flavours of broad bean paste, the South American hearts of palm and the French Port Salut cheese. The reason why I used Port Salut is that its flavour reminds me of a Brazilian soft cheese called Catupiry. In Brazil we use a lot of Catupiry in pizzas but unfortunately this cheese is not available in Australia. Both hearts of palm and Catupiry are available to North Americans from the Amazon.com website. If you can’t find either Catupiry or Port Salut, any mild soft cheese of your choice or even mozzarella is a good substitute.
This is a vegetarian dish and it can be easily changed to vegan by omitting the parmesan from the broad bean paste and the soft cheese. If you can’t find broad beans, they can be easily substituted by peas. Hearts of palm can be replaced by preserved artichokes.
I end this delightful post saying thank you for the Italians for the giving us the pizza and also throwing a few questions to my dear readers:
- What is your favourite pizza?
- Do you have an official pizza day/night at your home, if so, when is it?
- Do you prefer thin or thick crust?
330g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp salt
1 tbs caster sugar
1 tsp (7g) instant dried yeast
150ml lukewarm water
30 ml extra-virgin olive oil
Quick Tomato Sugo
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
400 g tomatoes, peeled and chopped
½ cup water
2 tbs basil leaves, chopped
600g preserved hearts of palm*, sliced
240 g fresh Port Salut cheese (or other mild soft cheese of your choice)
1 ½ cups broad beans**, cooked and peeled
½ bunch basil
3 tbs freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano for each pizza
Basil leaves picked, extra, to garnish
*Hearts of palm are available online or from South American grocers. Artichoke serve as substitute
**Broad beans can be replaced by peas
Pizza stone and cutter
1. For the dough, pass flour, salt and sugar through a sieve. Make a well in the centre, pour the lukewarm water and stir to dissolve the yeast in the water. Add milk and oil, stirring to combine. Using your hands, mix for a few minutes until a dough forms.
2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured bench and knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add a bit more flour if the dough is too sticky. Transfer dough to a bowl and lightly grease with olive oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside to prove in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
3. Place a pizza stone in the oven and pre-heat the oven, fan-forced or high bake to 240oC. Divide dough into three portions, then roll into balls and place on a large tray dusted with flour. Pat some oil over the balls and cover with plastic wrap, and set aside to prove for a further 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
4. For the tomato sugo, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add tomatoes, garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the water and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes or until the sauce is thick. Add basil and season with salt and freshly black pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool completely.
5. For the broad bean paste, in a food processor blend the broad beans (or peas), basil, parmesan, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice to a paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. To assemble the pizzas, transfer the balls to a flour-dusted surface, and roll them flat forming circular shapes. Remove pizza stone from oven, place one pizza base on top of the stone and quickly start to assemble. Top base with 1/3 of the sauce and spoon some broad bean paste. Scatter with hearts of palm and pieces of Port Salut cheese. Sprinkle with dried oregano. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust is slightly golden. Remove pizza from oven, scatter with extra basil leaves, and drizzle with olive oil to serve. Repeat with the other pizza bases.
Makes: 3 medium pizzas (thin crust)
Receita em Português
Pizza de Fava Verde com Palmito e Catupiry
Massa de Pizza
330g de farinha de trigo
½ colher de chá de sal
1 colher de sopa de açúcar refinado
1 colher de chá (7 g) de fermento de pão instantâneo
150ml de água morna
30ml de azeite de oliva extra-virgem
50ml de leite
Molho de Tomate Rápido
60ml de azeite de oliva extra-virgem
2 dentes de alho amassados
400 g de tomates, descascados e picados
½ xícara de água
2 colheres de sopa folhas de manjericão picadas
600g de palmito, cortado em rodelas
240 g de Catupiry
1 ½ xícaras favas verdes**, cozidas e descascadas
½ maço de manjericão
3 colheres de sopa de queijo parmesão fresco ralado
3 colheres de sopa de azeite de oliva extra-virgem
1 dente de alho amassado
1 colher de sopa de suco de limão
1 colher de chá de orégano seco para cada pizza
Folhas de manjericão para decorar
** Favas verdes podem ser substituídas por ervilhas
Pedra para pizza e cortador
1. Para a massa, peneire a farinha, o sal e o açúcar. Faça um buraco no centro, despeje a água morna e dissolva o fermento. Adicione o leite e óleo, mexendo para misturar. Usando suas mãos, misture por alguns minutos até obter uma massa.
2. Coloque a massa em uma bancada enfarinhada e sove por 5 minutos ou até a massa ficar lisa e elástica. Adicione um pouco mais de farinha se a massa estiver muito pegajosa. Transfira a massa para uma tigela e passe um pouco de azeite por cima. Cubra com um pano de prato e deixe descansar em um ambiente morno por aproximadamente 30 minutos ou até dobrar de tamanho.
3. Coloque uma pedra de pizza no forno e ligue a 240°C. Divida a massa em três partes, faça 3 bolas e coloque em um prato grande polvilhado com farinha. Passe um pouco de azeite nas massas e deixe descansar por mais 30 minutos ou até dobrar de tamanho.
4. Para o molho de tomate, aqueça o azeite em uma panela em fogo médio. Adicione os tomates, alho e cozinhe por cerca de 5 minutos. Adicione a água e cozinhe em fogo baixo. Cozinhe, mexendo ocasionalmente, por aproximadamente 10 minutos ou até que o molho engrosse. Adicione manjericão e tempere com sal e pimenta a gosto. Transfira para uma tigela e deixe esfriar completamente.
5. Para a pasta de favas verdes, em um processador de alimentos misture as favas verdes (ou ervilhas), manjericão, parmesão, azeite, alho e suco de limão até obter uma pasta. Tempere com sal e pimenta a gosto.
6. Para montar a pizza, transfira as bolas a uma superfície polvilhada de farinha, e abra com um rolo. Retire a pedra de pizza do forno, coloque uma massa em cima e rapidamente começar a montar. Coloque 1/3 do molho e algumas colheres de pasta de favas. Adicione o palmito e pedaços de Catupiry. Polvilhe com orégano. Asse por 10-12 minutos ou até que a crosta esteja dourada. Retire a pizza do forno, adicione mais folhas de manjericão, e regue com mais azeite para servir. Repita com as outras 2 bases de pizza.
Serve: 3 pizzas médias (massa fina)