Recipe: Flatbread Pizzas with Basil Pesto



It's Euro time and with Ireland's first game tonight, I thought I'd share with you a recipe for a healthy game day dinner option. With a month of soccer ahead of us, we will all be tempted to indulge in typical match day snacks such as pizzas, burgers, nachos and ice-cream. No big deal every so often, but for a whole month, not so much. So to help us all stay eating lots of lovely healthy vegetables and stay away from overly processed foods, I've decided to share with you healthier alternatives to some of the typical match day foods we normally indulge in.

First up is pizza. Score major points with your friends with these healthy flatbread pizzas. Pizza is always a crowd pleaser and I have experimented with more variations of pizzas bases than I can count. From quinoa bases to cauliflower bases, my absolute favourite pizza base is a wholemeal flatbread base. And luckily for me and you, its also the easiest to make.

Toppings wise, my favourite topping combo is grilled artichokes, roast red and yellow peppers, red onion, rocket and a basil pesto. However, you can go crazy with whatever toppings you like yourself, from different vegetables, to meats such as chorizo and chicken, to cheeses such as mozzarella or goats. Go all out and set up a toppings bar and let everyone build their own pizzas to suit their own tastes.

This recipe makes eight 6" pizzas.

Ingredients

For the flatbread:

2 cups wholemeal flour

½ cup warm water

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch sea salt

For the tomato sauce:

6 tbsp tomato puree

6 tbsp water

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tsp dried oregano

For the pesto:

1 cup of basil tightly packed

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup cashew nuts

2 cloves garlic

Juice of half a lemon

Pinch of sea salt

For the toppings:

3 red peppers*

3 yellow peppers*

1 jar of artichokes**

2 red onions, sliced into rings

2 large handfuls of rocket

¼ cup of pine nuts

*You can of course buy ready roasted peppers in jars if you don't have the time to roast them yourself.

**Conversely, you can buy fresh whole artichoke and prep it yourself, but I usually buy the jarred artichokes.

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Place the peppers on a baking tray and place in the oven for 30 minutes, turning them half way through. Once roasted, remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes to cool a little. Then remove the stalks and skins from the peppers and slice the peppers into thin strips. Set aside until topping the flat breads.

2. While the peppers are cooking, make the pizza dough. To do this add the flour, dried oregano, baking powder and salt to a bowl and mix. Pour in the olive oil and, using a fork, mix it into the flour. Next pour in the warm water slowly and mix it into the flour until it comes together into a dough. If required add another tablespoon of warm water. Knead on a lightly floured surface until the dough is smooth, about 3 minutes. Cover with a clean towel and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.

3. Make the pesto by placing the basil, garlic, cashew nuts, lemon juice and salt into a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients have broken down but are still quite chunky. Turn the food processor on and gradually add the olive oil and process for about 30 seconds until the ingredients form into a pesto like dressing. Spoon into a serving bowl and set to one side.

4. To make the tomato sauce, place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Set to one side.

5. To prep the toppings, slice the red onion into rings. Grill the artichoke on a griddle pan for 5 minutes, turning once. Wash the rocket well and pat dry.

6. Once the dough for the flatbreads has rested, divide the dough into 8 balls. Lightly flour a surface and one by one flatten each dough ball and roll it out very thin and about 5-6 inches in diametre. Place on a parchment lined baking tray in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the flatbreads. Top each flatbread with a spoon of tomato sauce and using the back of the spoon, spread the sauce over the entire surface of the flatbread. Top with the sliced red onion, roasted red pepper and grilled artichokes. Return to the oven for 10 minutes.

7. Once fully cooked, remove the flatbread pizzas from the oven and place on a serving platter. Top each pizza with fresh rocket leaves and spoon a few dollops of basil pesto on top. Serve immediately.


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DESIGNED BY Frances Walsh 

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