Although I consistently love tomato sauce on pizza, I do like to have a few alternatives up my sleeve to keep pizza night interesting. Some previous faves have been basil pesto (obvs because are you even a student if you don’t like pesto??) and blended sweetcorn (inspo from Homeslice in London!).
When flicking through my good friend Eva’s new cookbook, First We Eat*, the title of this recipe immediately caught my eye. Creamy roasted garlic sauce, eh??? I like all of those words… As I read through the recipe I realised it was almost like a super cheesy pesto – two WHOLE HEADS of garlic get roasted until soft and sticky, blended with a shit load of parmesan, olive oil and some other bits to make a creamy, tangy sauce. (N.B. another delicious way to use this is to stir a spoonful into some cooked veg. We did this with green beans and it was sooo good. I imagine it would be incredible in mashed potatoes too). On baking, the sauce bubbles and oozes making a sort of pimped-up garlic bread. There are carrot ribbons too, piled high, which slump down into sweet, al-dente slivers.
In the book, Eva uses a garlic sourdough for the crust but since I don’t have sourdough on the go, I’ve used my go-to No-Knead pizza dough from my own cookbook* 🙂 . She also cooks the pizza IN A FIRE which is so cool and something I definitely want to try. For now, I am without a fire, so I’ve included both the original method and the stovetop/grill method for you.
For the pizza dough:
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast (easy bake yeast)
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (225g) lukewarm water
- 2 1/2 cups (300g) white bread flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
For the creamy garlic sauce
- 2 heads garlic
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (90ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 ounces (85g) Parmesan cheese, grated
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/4 tsp teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
For the toppings:
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and shaved into thin strips using a mandoline or vegetable peeler
- 1 1/2 ounces (43g) Parmesan cheese, shaved
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon thyme leaves
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C).
For the pizza dough:
- Place the lukewarm water into a medium bowl. Stir in the yeast. Add the flour, salt and olive oil. Stir together well to make a shaggy dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside for 2-5 hours. (If you want to leave for 8-12 hours instead, only use 1/4 tsp of yeast.)
For the creamy roasted garlic sauce,
- Cut the top quarter of the heads of garlic and place the heads in the center of a sheet of foil. Drizzle with 2 tbsp oil and wrap them, leaving a small opening at the top for steam to escape. Place the foil packet on a small pan and roast until the garlic is fragrant and golden, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature. Squeeze the roasted cloves from the papery husks into a bowl, discarding the husks.
- Add the roasted garlic, Parmesan, pine nuts, remaining oil, lemon thyme, vinegar, water, and pepper to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside.
For the skillet pizza:
- Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a ball. Set aside to rest for 15 minutes.
- Take one ball of dough, flour it, and use your fingertips to gently press and stretch the dough out (start at the centre and work towards the edge) into a 9-inch circle.
- Place a 9-inch cast-iron skillet on the stovetop and preheat your oven grill to the highest setting with the oven rack at the top of the oven.
- Once the skillet is hot, place the shaped dough into it and let it cook until the dough starts to puff up. Spread the creamy roasted garlic sauce on the pizza, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges, and top with the carrots, Parmesan, and pine nuts
- Take the skillet off the heat and place into the oven under the grill. Grill for 3-5 minutes until the edge of the dough is browned and the carrot ribbons are softened.
- Remove the pizza from the hot skillet to a cutting board, garnish with more lemon-thyme and slice into 8 pieces. Repeat the dough shaping and baking as before with the other ball of dough.
To cook it in a fire: - Bury a lidded 12-inch (30.5-cm) cast-iron skillet in the glowing red embers of a fire that has burned down a bit and has a mix of glowing embers and small flames. Allow the pan to preheat for 30 minutes, adding more wood to the fire, as needed, to maintain a low flame. - Transfer the crust to a pizza peel well-dusted with rice flour. Use heatproof gloves to remove the pan from the fire, remove the lid from the pan, and immediately transfer the stretched dough to the peel and into the pan. Top with the sauce, carrots, pine nuts and parmesan as per usual. - Cover with the lid and bury the pan in the embers. Cook until the dough is puffy and there are some deep gold or charred marks on the carrots, 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the heat intensity of your flame. Keeping the pan in the fire, expose the lid and remove it, allowing the pizza to cook for a few minutes more, uncovered, until the crust is completely cooked through in the center.