Beet Pizza with Beet Leaf Pesto

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 200c/400F.

  • Cut the stems from the beets, leaving an inch of stem still attached. Save the beet leaves and stems to use later.

  • Wash  the beetroots and wrap each one in foil, then place on a baking tray  and cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until soft. Allow the beets to  cool slightly, then rub off the skins with paper towel.

  • Puree the beetroot in a food processor or mini chopper, and set aside. You will need 150g (½ cup) of the beetroot puree.

  • Note: you could skip roasting the beets and use pre-cooked vacuum packed (not in vinegar) beets.

Pizza Dough:

In a stand mixer:

  • Pour  the water into the bowl of the stand mixer, then sprinkle the yeast  over the water and let it stand for a few minutes until the yeast has  dissolved.

  • Insert  the dough hook, add 150g (½ cup) of the pureed beetroot, plus the flour  and salt to the yeast water and knead with the machine for a few  minutes until the dough forms a sticky ball. It will be a very soft  dough, but if the dough is still too sticky, add a tablespoon of flour  at a time until it is manageable. Don’t add too much or it will affect  the end result.

Alternatively make the beet pizza dough by hand:

  • Pour  the water into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the  water. Let it stand for a few minutes until the yeast has dissolved.

  • Add 150g (½ cup) of the pureed beetroot, plus the flour and salt to the bowl of water and stir until it forms a loose dough.

  • Tip  the dough onto a lightly floured countertop (on floured baking paper if  you have a wooden countertop to avoid the beetroot staining) and knead  firmly for 5-10 minutes or until it’s smooth, (though it will be a soft  sticky dough). If the dough is too sticky, add a tablespoon of flour at a  time until it is manageable. Don’t add too much or it will affect the  end result.

For both dough methods:

  • Put  the dough into a large lightly oiled bowl, then turn the dough over so  both sides are covered in oil and cover with clingfilm. Place the bowl  in a warm place and allow the dough to rise for 1 ½ hours.

Meanwhile, make the beet leaf pesto.

  • Wash the leaves and stems well, then remove the green leaves from the stems and set the stems aside to use later.

  • Remove any large pink stems that run through the leaves and discard.

  • Add  the beet leaves as well as the other ingredients, except for the olive  oil, to a food processor and blitz until fine. While the motor is  running, add the olive oil slowly until it becomes thick. Keep in the  fridge until ready to use.

To cook the beet pizza

  • When you’re ready to cook the beet pizza, preheat the oven to 250C/ 480F, or as high your oven will go.

  • Divide  the dough into thirds and then roll each one out on a lightly floured  piece of baking paper, as thin as possible to fit the size of your  baking tray. Transfer the pizza and baking paper to the baking tray.

  • Spread the pizza base with ⅓ of the beet leaf pesto, then top with ⅓ of the toppings. Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil.

  • Place the pizza in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the base is crisp and the edges have begun to brown.

  • Repeat with the remaining dough and toppings.

  • Pile the pizzas with the rocket/arugula and serve hot, cut into slices.

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Ingredients

For the pizza dough

  • 2 large beetroots  with stems and leaves attached if making the pesto

  • 180 ml (¾ cup) warm water

  • 1 tsp active dry yeast

  • 350 g (3 cups) plain flour (all-purpose)

  • 1 tsp sea salt

For the beet leaf pesto

  • 50 g (1 cup) packed beetroot leaves (remove the larger pink spines for a greener-coloured pesto)

  • 35 g (¼ cup) pine nuts

  • 2 tbsp vegan or vegetarian parmesan cheese grated (optional)

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

  • Zest of half a lemon

  • 1 garlic clove minced

  • Pinch of salt and pepper

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Toppings (all optional)

  • 50 g (1 cup packed) beetroot stems, chopped into 1 inch long pieces

  • 180 g (6 oz) goat’s cheese (vegan alternative)

  • 75 g (½ cup) olives, pitted

  • 40 g (⅓ cup) sun-dried tomatoes

  • 3 tsp capers

  • 3 tsp olive oil

  • Salt and pepper

  • 3 large handful rocket / arugula