I often joke that my husband was born in the wrong era.
In actual fact, it’s no joke. I genuinely believe he’d be better placed in the 1950s. He has no interest in technology (doesn’t own a smart phone, has no Facebook account and probably doesn’t even know what instagram is), and enjoys the more traditional ‘manly’ pursuits. There’s nothing more he likes than spending an afternoon in his shed, splitting wood for the log burner, or doing a spot of DIY. Popular culture holds little allure for him (my Ed Sheerin CD is frequently-and annoyingly-removed from the car) and you will rarely see him in front of a screen, unless his work absolutely necessitates.
I find it, on the whole, refreshing, unique. It’s endearing.
Except, I must admit, when it comes to meal planning.
He is the archetypal 1950s ‘meat and two veg’ man (thankfully,without the era’s inherent mysogyny) who deems a ‘proper’ meal to be inclusive of a great big hunk of flesh. Eating meat every day is not, as may be pretty obvious, compatible with watching the pennies, nor is it conducive to a healthy or environmentally conscious lifestyle. So I work a bit harder to make my vegetarian offerings appealing.
And pizza, for my hubby, presses all the right buttons.
For him, the absence of meat here doesn’t seem to matter; the gooey melting mozzarella and smokiness of the salmon seem to give this dish a real sense of occasion, and the spinach gives it that lazy Saturday brunch feel. You could even crack an egg on the top to add more protein and make this more Florentine style. And for the true vegetarian, salmon could be forgone altogether.
If you’ve never made pizza from scratch, I implore you: give it a go. Not only is it cheaper to make yourself, but freshly made pizza is one of food’s greatest gifts to the world. The dough is so much more light and flavoursome. I understand, it’s a little intimidating, but actually, once you get started, the process is rather easy. Admittedly, this isn’t my go- to dish for a quick mid week dinner when I’m up to my eyeballs in nappies and laundry, but for a tasty weekend treat it’s great fun. You do need a bit of time to let the dough prove, but it’s certainly not a complicated recipe, just a little time consuming. Making your own dough means you can control the amount of salt included, and as I usually make mine with half white and half wholemeal flour, you can have the added bonus of feeling a little more virtuous too.
If you’re thinking that smoked salmon seems a little indulgent for a pennywise cook, don’t fear; economy is still very much on my radar. I buy wallet friendly smoked salmon trimmings for this recipe (they can be found in most larger supermarkets) and whilst not as quality as the real thing, they provide that smoky hit of elegance that elevates a meat free dinner into something just a little more special that even the carnivorous husband enjoys.
And despite his sometimes frustrating dinosaur-esque inclinations, I’m really quite pleased that my husband wasn’t born in a previous era. He may be a bit out of date by today’s standards, but you know what?
I’m actually rather fond of him.
Spinach and salmon pizza (makes 2 large pizzas)
For the pizza dough:
500g Strong White or Wholemeal flour (or half of each)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
7g packet dried yeast
330ml tepid water
For the topping:
6 tbsp passata
1 tbsp garlic oil
80g bag spinach
1 packet fresh mozarella, well drained
120g smoked salmon trimmings
Mix the flour, yeast and salt together in a large bowl along with the olive oil and tepid water
Once it starts to come together, tip onto a clean floured surface and knead vigorously for at least 10 minutes (until it becomes smooth and stretchy).
Place into an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and set aside. Leave the dough to rise if you like a deeper pan base (give it an hour or so), but it’s not necessary if you prefer a thin crust.
Add the garlic oil and spinach (retaining a handful of leaves for garnish) to a pan and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until wilted. Season with salt and pepper, and add a generous grating of the nutmeg. Remove from heat and let cool completely (you may need to squeeze out excess liquid).
Heat your oven to 220 degrees c and place one large or two smaller flat (or upturned) baking trays to heat up. Give the dough it a quick knead, then split into two balls. Roll out the dough into large spheres, using a rolling pin to flatten them (keep it thin as it will rise in the oven). Lift the dough onto two floured pizza rounds and then spread with the passata and wilted spinach
Tear the mozzarella equally onto the pizza bases, followed by the grated parmesan. Place the pizza rounds onto the baking trays and bake for approximately 8-10 mins until almost crisp.
Remove from the oven and tear the smoked salmon evenly over the pizzas, then return to the oven for a further 2 minutes. Once cooked, scatter some fresh spinach leaves over, and add a grating of lemon zest to each pizza. Allow to firm up for 5 minutes then eat, with great satisfaction.