A Healthy French Pizza Tart
I have five athletes at home – a state table tennis player, an international tennis player, a national golfer, a state tennis player and varsity rower, and a district footballer. And four of them are karate gold medalists. That makes for a lot of health and fitness in one home (OK, so I’m no snow pea myself – not quite in their league, but I am a certified Pilates Mat Instructor and a Sport Yoga Instructor!)
So while in most homes, it’s Mom yelling, “Eat healthy!” in my home, it’s the kids who complain about my unhealthy cooking and eating habits. Even pizza, except on the dog’s birthday and only for him, is virtually banned!
So I was thrilled when I received this new Multigrain Atta (flour) from Aashirvaad. I could finally eat pizza again, in its new avatar! A multigrain crust loaded with the goodness of fresh vegetables and the necessary proteins from both the special flour and the mozzarella cheese. Garbed in a brioche-like yeast-based crust, with the various delicious grains enhanced by the flavor of butter! Add a rich tomato sauce, with my two secret ingredients, and… Voila! We have a French Pizza Tart (perhaps presented to the family as a French Vegetable Tart), and I get my pizza back!
Two lessons I have learned while making yeast based bread and dough in India, is that you don’t need expensive imported ingredients, but quality local ones, and you need to start with a “poolish.” Having been an Aashirvaad Atta user for years, I already knew that the Aashirvaad with Multigrain Atta would be the best possible multigrain in the market. Also, being a regular bread maker, I know how hard it is to create the perfect blend of flours yourself. Working with a multigrain flour that is designed to taste good, and give both great colour and flavour in the finished product, makes a cook’s work that much easier. Also, since the grains are balanced, and the texture is consistent, once you start working with this multigrain flour the guesswork in how much water to use is taken out of the picture.
A poolish, from above, (if you haven’t heard the word) is French for a bread starter. It usually consists of a simple mixture of wheat flour – in this case Ashirvaad with Multigrains -water, and a very small amount of yeast . After mixing, it is allowed to ferment for a period of time, and then is added to bread dough with the remaining yeast. A pre-ferment improves both the taste and rise in a yeasty dough like this one. I usually allow mine to rise for about 4 hours, and have simplified the process a bit below.
Try my healthy new pizza with this wonderful Aashirvaad with Multigrains flour, and see how your family reacts!
For poolish/ starter
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup warm water (40-45 degrees Celsius)
½ cup Aashirvaad with Multigrains flour
½ teaspoon dry yeast
a pinch of salt
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups Aashirvaad with Mutligrains
½ cup warm water
2 teaspoons yeast
¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into small dice
1 teaspoon olive or vegetable oil (for oiling dough only)
Equipment: a standing electric mixer with whisk and dough-hook attachments
For tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 ½ cups of tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or canned)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fennel
½ teaspoon crushed chilies
2 teaspoons small salted capers (optional)
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
For vegetable filling
½ a large eggplant, sliced in 8-10 1/8 ” slices
1 small zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
1 onion, sliced into thin rounds
6-8 button mushrooms, sliced into thin pieces lengthwise
1 green bell pepper/capsicum sliced into thin rounds
5 tablespoons olive oil
200g of mozzarella cheese, shredded
Combine sugar and warm water (it should not be hot- just right for a baby) in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over mixture and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir flour into yeast mixture, forming a wet dough. Cover with plastic wrap or a shower cap (really!) and let starter rise, at room temperature, 3-4 hours.
Combine starter and remaining multigrain flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Heat ½ cup water until slightly warm as earlier. Add the 2 teaspoons yeast to the water, and allow to bubble for 10 minutes. Ensure well dissolved. (Note that this flour needs extra water, as it contains both chickpea flour and maize, both which absorb a lot of water.)
Combine yeast mixture with other ingredients and using a dough hook, beat mix at medium low speed for about 5-7 minutes minutes.
Add chopped butter and mix. If dough is very sticky and does not form ball, slowly add a teaspoon or two of flour. If dough is very dry add a few teaspoons of water. Allow dough ball to knead for another 5 minutes.
You can also knead dough by hand. Combine all ingredients except butter, mix well. Oil hands and knead for 5 minutes. Add butter and continue kneading 2-3 minutes– dough should be soft and sticky.
Remove dough from bowl, oil with olive or vegetable oil over entire surface. Cover with plastic shower cap (my personal technique) or plastic wrap.
Allow to rise about 1 ½ -2 hours until doubled in size.
If using fresh tomatoes, drop them into a pan of boiling water and leave for about a minute, until the skins split. Toss into cold water and peel, then chop. If you don’t have an issue with preservative and prefer canned tomatoes, break tomatoes with hand into small bits.
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on a medium heat, and add the chopped garlic. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute, do not allow to brown.
Add the tomatoes, then add salt, fennel, crushed chilies, the capers if using, and freshly black pepper.
Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick, and olive oil begins to separate from tomatoes.
Adjust seasoning, and stir in the basil leaves, roughly torn.
To prepare vegetables:
Only the eggplant needs to be cooked for this dish, the other vegetables are added raw.
Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Dry eggplant slices with a paper towel and fry lightly for 2 minutes on each side. Remove onto paper towels for oil to drain.
To assemble and bake:
Heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Butter a 9-inch pie pan, preferably with a removable bottom. Lift dough from bowl and allow to fall into pie pan. Using finger gently, stretch dough to all sides. Push dough to rim of pan, and form a ½ inch thick border on edge of pan. Place pie dish on a baking sheet.
Place half the sauce on the base of the raw tart shell. Cover with half the cheese. Layer eggplants slices, zucchini, onions, mushrooms, and peppers.
Cover with remaining sauce and last, the remaining cheese.
Place pie pan in center of over and bake for 15 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius. Lower heat to 175 and bake for another 20-25 minutes until cheese and crust is nicely browned. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Prep Time: 6 hours (include rising time for dough)
Cooking Time: 35-40 mins
Critical Ingredients: In the sauce, you can skip fennel and use oregano instead. Capers are of course optional, but add a great , lemony tart flavour. Vegetables can be altered according to season and availability, although I personally wouldn’t put cauliflower or broccoli in my tart! I do love all varieties of mushrooms. Artichokes also do well in a layered vegetable tart, and go well with the pizza flavors. Eggplants go well with the mozzarella cheese.
And there you have it, a delicious, healthy and satisfying one-dish healthy pizza dinner!!