When your nine-year-old asks you if she can cook dinner tonight, asks, just to be sure, if she can choose to make anything she wants and concludes: “Then I´m making broccoli pizza!”, you know you must have done something right.
As you can see, we all love veggie-based pizza at our house. It´s crisp, packed with flavour and nutrients, and after eating it makes you feel healthy and energised, which isn´t always the case with regular wheat-based pizzas. A variation on our go-to base, made with cauliflower and almonds, this broccoli pizza base is made with broccoli, pistachios, oregano and oats, for a cheerful green and delicately flavoured pizza.
An added bonus is, it´s really easy to whip up. The base is baked separately, after which you can top it with anything you fancy. For a lazy night in, you could lather it with tomato sauce, top with shaved fennel, cheese and leafy greens and put it back in the oven for about 10 minutes, for the cheese to melt and the greens to wilt. Or you could simply top the base with fresh ingredients, as I did with the pizza in the picture, and enjoy it as a light lunch.
The recipe below yields my current favourite combination: broccoli pizza with basil oil, griddled courgette, oven-baked tomatoes, toasted pine nuts and crisp edamame. Topped, after capture, with a pile of arugula which renders the pizza below it invisible.
Broccoli pizza with basil oil and grilled veg – serves 4
for the base
- 500 g broccoli, cut into florets, stem peeled and roughly chopped
- 100 g pistachios, shelled weight
- 100 g rolled oats
- generous pinch of dried oregano
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 flax eggs (made by stirring 2 tbsp. ground flaxseeds into 5 tbsp. cold water and leaving them to set for a few minutes)
for the topping
- large bunch (30 g) basil
- 70 ml olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 300 g cherry tomatoes on the vine
- 2 courgettes, sliced lengthwise into 4 mm thick ribbons
- 2 tbsp. sunflower oil
- 100 g edamame
- 50 g pine nuts
- 2 handsful of arugula
- 1 head fennel, halved and sliced as thinly as possible
- 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
- ½ tsp. maple syrup (optional)
Start by making the basil oil. Tip the basil into the small bowl of a food processor, along with the olive oil, then wizz. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.
Put the pine nuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat. Shaking the pan regularly, toast the pine nuts until they begin to shine and turn golden brown. Tip onto a plate and set aside.
Mix the shaved fennel with the rice vinegar. If you like it a bit sweeter, stir in the maple syrup. Set aside and leave to pickle.
Heat the oven to 220°C/450°F/Gas 6.
Put all ingredients for the base, except the flax eggs, into the bowl of a food processor and whizz to fine crumbs. Add the flax eggs and whizz again to combine.
Turn out the base mixture onto a lined baking sheet. Using the back of a spoon, spread the mixture and flatten it to a compact layer of ½ cm thickness. Bake the pizza base for 25 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.
Place the cherry tomatoes on a second baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tbsp. of sunflower oil and season with salt and pepper. When the pizza base has cooked for 10 minutes, put the second baking sheet in the oven as well. Bake the tomatoes along with the pizza base for the remaining 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a griddle pan until blazing hot. Thinly brush the courgette strips with the remaining sunflower oil. In batches, place the courgette strips in the griddle pan in a single layer. Cook the strips for 1-2 minutes on each side, until tender and nicely charred.
When cooked, spread the pizza base with the basil oil. Top with the griddled courgette, the cherry tomatoes and the edamame. Scatter over the toasted pine nuts and the arugula.
Enjoy either warm or at room temperature, with the pickled fennel on the side.