PIZZA PUTTANESCA

Forgive me but I couldn’t resist this ‘prostitute’s pizza’. When you share it with a lover, you’ll see that it isn’t a sordid thing at all, but a delicious, passionate pizza that is perfect after a bit of, well... Puttanesca was originally a pasta sauce, and one that I practically lived on when I spent a summer in Rome and Milan, working for a perfume manufacturer. The days were long and the offices were hot, but it was all worth it when I got to tuck into my favourite dish in the evenings. Thanks to the olives and anchovies, this has a bold and gutsy flavour, along with a lip-tingling spiciness from the chillies, which is never a bad thing. 

Matt Russell 

Matt Russell 

Ingredients - makes one pizza for two to share 

For the dough

  • 225g strong white flour
  • 7g fast-action yeast (1 sachet) 
  • 2g salt
  • 140ml tepid water 

For the topping

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 6 anchovies from a jar/tin, roughly chopped
  • 80g black olives, roughly chopped
  • 3 tsp capers from a jar
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • Small handful finely chopped parsley for scattering
  • 30g freshly grated Parmesan cheese 

Method

For the dough, put the flour into a mixing bowl with the yeast and stir together, then stir in the salt. Add the water, then use a wooden spoon or your hands to bring the ingredients together into a rough dough

Turn out on to the worktop and knead for about 10 minutes until you have a smooth and elastic dough. Alternatively, knead for about 6 minutes in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Allow the dough to rise in an oiled bowl covered with a damp tea towel for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

When the dough has risen, place it on the large baking sheet and roll it out into a rough circle of about 28cm diameter, or make a heart shape, if you feel adventurous. Allow to rise for a second hour.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas 7. Make the topping by heating the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and frying the onion for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute, then add the tomatoes, anchovies, black olives, capers and chilli. Allow this to simmer for 10 minutes, or until thick and spreadable, then take off the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Spread the topping over the risen pizza base, leaving a 1cm crust – there might be a few tablespoons of topping left for the cook to snack on – then slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 15–20 minutes or until the crust is crispy and the underneath is firm.

Finish with a sprinkling of parsley and a grating of Parmesan, then cut into whatever size slices you can manage.