Pizza by any other name

Pizza by any other name

By
From
The Sunday Night Book
Serves
4
Photographer
Patricia Niven

What I’ve done here is turn a pizza on its head: this is basically a slightly sloppier version of the tomato sauce you might spread over a pizza base, spiked with some tasty morsels from the fridge, then topped with mozzarella and chunks of bread and baked. Couldn’t be easier, and it needs little in the way of accompaniment – although a green salad is always good. Feel free to pick and choose what to add to the tomato sauce, depending on what leftovers you have.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 rashers streaky bacon
2 red onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped from stems
400g stale bread, torn into chunks
250g mushrooms, sliced
1/2 x 280 g jar roasted red peppers, drained and torn into bite-sized pieces
400 g tin tomatoes
1 bay leaf
175g mozzarella
few sprigs basil, optional
sea salt
black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Heat a generous splash of olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan (with a lid) over a medium heat. Using scissors, snip the bacon into chunky lardon-like pieces straight into the hot oil, then let it sizzle and release its fat. As soon as the bacon has browned a little, lift it out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Throw the onions into the pan with a pinch of salt and stir to coat in the bacon fat. Add a splash more oil if they don’t look shiny, then turn the heat down to low and cook gently for about 7 minutes, or until soft but not brown.
  3. Meanwhile, make the topping. In a large bowl, mix the garlic and thyme leaves with any remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Throw in the stale bread and toss to coat in the oily mixture. Season generously with black pepper – and maybe a pinch of salt, depending what kind of bread you are using.
  4. When the onions are soft and sweet, turn the heat up to medium and add the mushrooms, along with another sprinkling of salt. Keep the pan moving while the mushrooms cook – this should take about 3–4 minutes. Next, add the peppers, return the bacon and, after a brief stir, add the tomatoes and bay leaf. Bring the lot up to the boil and simmer vigorously for about 5 minutes to let everything get to know each other and for the sauce to reduce a little.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then pour into a baking dish about 20 cm x 15 cm and shake gently to level, so that it completely covers the base of the dish. Tear the mozzarella – and the basil, if using – into bite-sized pieces and distribute evenly over the tomato sauce. Scatter the bread over the top, making sure everything is covered, then bake in the oven for 15 minutes until golden, crisp and bubbling. Serve straight away.
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