This pizza topping is based on a recipe from Simon Bryant’s Vegies, an excellent Australian vegetarian cookbook which uses really interesting flavour combinations, including all sorts of Australian native ingredients. It’s also clearly a gardener’s book – the recipe this is adapted from starts with a head of broccoli which is on the bolt. My broccoli always gets eaten by caterpillars before it can even think about bolting, but the idea is still appealing.
I’ve kept a lot of Bryant’s flavours, but changed the context significantly. Bryant serves this marinated broccoli raw over couscous; I’m sticking it on top of a pizza base and baking it, albeit briefly. I’ve also added a bit of lemon zest, to up the citrus content, and I’ve added imaginary pine-nuts, which is to say, I forgot to put them on the pizza, but they would have been great had I remembered them at the time, so they are going into the recipe regardless…
Your Shopping List1 head of broccoli zest of 1 lemon zest of 1 orange juice of 1/2 an orange 1 tsp dried lavender 1/2 tsp dried thyme 4 sprigs fresh tarragon, finely chopped salt, pepper 1 tbsp olive oil 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (not that I measured this – just a good splash, really) 125 g ricotta 50 g pine nuts To serve: one plain pizza base, olive oil, garlic, oregano
Now what will you do with it?
Chop the head off your broccoli. I should have scheduled this post for July 14th. The thick stalk can be set aside for another recipe – you basically want the florets and the narrower stalks leading up to them for this one.
Add the citrus zest and juice, the herbs and the lavender. Season, and mix everything together. Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over this, and leave to rest for half an hour or so at room temperature.
Pre-heat the oven for your pizza base. You can either use one you’ve made yourself, but haven’t yet baked, or use a good-quality bought one – I am very partial to the garlic and oregano pizza bases by Take Me Home. You could also use a Greek-style flatbread for a base – the kind that’s a bit thicker than pita bread.
Brush your base with a little olive oil – garlic infused if possible – and sprinkle lightly with oregano. If you didn’t have garlic oil, cut a clove of garlic in half and rub it all over the pizza base.
Bake your base in the oven until it’s about five minutes away from done, then remove from the oven. Spread with ricotta, or if you were lucky and got better ricotta than me, scatter the ricotta over it. Spread the ricotta with the broccoli mix, scatter the pine nuts on top, and return to the oven for 3-5 minutes.
Serve. It’s weird, but good – aromatic and crunchy. I found that the first bite didn’t grab me, but then it got increasingly addictive…
Well, yes, you can serve this raw over couscous, or even as a salad. I wouldn’t really mess with this topping too much, because it’s fairly unusual, and changing it would probably lose some of what makes it special. However, if you want a vegan version of this, I’d replace the ricotta with a cashew ricotta such as this one, to provide the requisite creaminess and help stick the broccoli to the pizza.
Once you do that, you have a meal which is vegan, gluten-free (with a suitable pizza base), reasonably low GI, and nut-free if you forget the pine-nuts like I did…
Definitely a win.
This time last year…