Stunningly Simple Pizza With Wild Garlic Oil
One of the ingredients I love to use in recipes at this time of year is Wild Garlic and living in Ireland means that we’re fortunate enough to have this fantastic plant growing on our doorsteps.
Wild Garlic is a wild herb that grows across the country, most commonly found thriving in mixed woodlands and other damp, shady places like country lanes and close to streams. In the right place it will be widespread and easy to spot. When the certificate students from the cookery school recently headed out for a day’s foraging in Wicklow, they were amazed at how plentiful it was.
The window for picking Wild Garlic is short – mid-March to mid-June. It is flowering right now and so I am keen to share this stunningly simple recipe with you before the season ends to encourage you to go out and pick your own.
Photo: Linda Schneider
How To Pick
When collecting it, be careful not to dig up the bulbs of the plant and never strip a plant of all its leaves or remove all the flowers or plants in a small area. Take care not to bruise the tender leaves and flowers.
How To Prepare
Shake the flower to remove any insects. Wash the flowers and leaves in cold water and spread out on a clean cloth; pat dry to remove any moisture.
Photo: Linda Schneider
I like to use the Wild Garlic as a base for a simple sauce with pasta but here I am going to propose using it on a pizza. This recipe makes three 25cm bases, A pizza stone will yield a beautifully thin, crispy crust quite similar to that produced in a brick oven. If you bake the pizza on a baking sheet, the dough will rise a little more in the oven, resulting in a more bread-like interior.
450g strong white flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp caster sugar
7g of fast action instant yeast (1 sachet yeast)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for the dough, plus extra for brushing the inside of the bowl
300-350ml warm water, or as required to make a softish dough
Oven Temp: 250C, 475F, Gas 9
Sift the flour into the food processor, together with the salt, sugar and instant yeast. Turn on at full speed and add 2 tablespoons of the oil through the feeder tube, followed by half the warm water in a thin stream. The dough will now have the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the rest of the water little by little until the dough forms a ball and becomes slightly sticky. If you have inadvertently added too much water and the dough sticks to the sides, shake in more flour a spoonful at a time until it forms into a ball.
Alternatively make the dough by hand. Place the flour in a large bowl with the sugar, salt and yeast and mix well. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of oil and most of the warm water and mix by hand. Carry on adding the water until the dough comes together into a soft and slightly sticky ball.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.Brush a large mixing bowl with a little olive oil, put in the dough and rub the surface with a few drops of olive oil. Cover with cling film and leave to prove in a warm place until it has doubled in size. This will take about 1 hour or longer.
Preheat the oven to its highest temperature (240C/475F/Gas 9) 30 minutes before you want to cook the pizzas. If you are using a pizza stone, place the stone on a shelf in a cold oven and preheat it for about 1 hour before cooking.
Divide the dough into pieces – about 250g is perfect for one 25cm pizza. Keep the remainder of dough covered until you are ready to use it. Working on a heavily floured surface, roll out the dough using a rolling pin. The dough should be quite thin if it’s going on a pizza stone, a bit thicker if not. The pizza cooks in about 5-7 minutes on a pizza stone or 12-14 minutes if using a baking sheet.
Pizza With Ricotta, Parmesan & Wild Garlic Oil
This is a light, spring/summery pizza making the best use of fresh wild garlic. I spread some crème fraîche on the pizza base and add little clusters of ricotta flavoured with lemon and Parmesan.
Makes 1 x 25cm pizza
100g finely grated Parmesan cheese
20g chives, finely chopped
Zest of ½ lemon
250g pizza dough
2 tbsp crème fraiche
Wild Garlic oil
1 large bunch of wild garlic
Very good quality extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
The leaves of Wild Garlic become more pungent when in flower. For that reason, I prefer to blanch the leaves to remove any harshness. You can always whizz a few raw leaves along with the blanches ones if you need a little extra pungency.
To make the garlic oil, blanch the wild garlic leaves in boiling water for up to a minute until tender. Squeeze all excess water out of the leaves. Pound in a pestle and mortar to a paste or whizz in a food processor. Gradually add the oil until you have a thick puree. (More oil may be added at a later point if you wish to thin it out for another use). Season and put to one side. Store the oil in a sterilised jar topped with a fresh layer of extra virgin olive oil and refrigerate. It will keep for several weeks.
Photo: Linda Schneider
Preheat the oven to 250°C, 230°C Fan, 475°F, Gas 9
If using a pizza stone, place the stone in a cold oven 1 hour before cooking and turn on the oven to its highest setting. A conventional oven setting is better for pizza, if you have the option.
In a bowl, mix the ricotta with 50g of the grated Parmesan, the chopped chives and the lemon zest. Season and set aside.
Roll out the dough to a 25cm round and place on a lightly floured pizza paddle(for the stone) or on a baking sheet. Spread the crème fraîche over the pizza base, leaving a 2cm border. Sprinkle half of the remaining grated Parmesan over the crème fraiche. Divide the ricotta mixture into 6 balls and place around the pizza. Scatter with the remaining grated Parmesan. Slide a palette knife under the dough to check that it hasn’t stuck to the paddle. Transfer the pizza to the stone with a couple of jerking movements of the wrist. The pizza will cook in 5–7 minutes on the stone or 12-14 minutes on a baking sheet. Remove as soon as the cheese has some golden patches and the base is nice and crispy. Drizzle generously with wild garlic oil and serve immediately.
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