Frances is a freelance writer/journalist and writes for many titles, including newspapers and online publications; www.francespenwillcook.com.
Published April 16th 2010
Fancy a cheap, tasty and environmentally friendly night in? How about a movie and a pizza? Not the delivery kind though – that's expensive, lukewarm and soggy, and comes with a carbon footprint.
For a tasty eco-friendly pizza that doesn't dent your bank account or your carbon footprint, make it fresh with your mates as part of the evening's fun. If the prospect of getting your chops round a hot, crispy pizza that's made to order is mouth watering, then read on.
First you need to make the dough (oh yes, no skimping here) and you can either prepare this before your friends arrive or make it together. Jamie Oliver offers a great recipe on his website if you want to make it by hand; another option is to use the dough setting on your bread maker. Cookipedia has a good recipe for bread maker dough. Don't forget to knead it around a little on a floured surface once it's ready to remove the air. The Channel 4 website provides a useful step-by-step picture guide on dough making. If you really can't be bothered and this all seems like too much effort, then you can buy ready-made dough at the shops.
To dress the pizzas you'll firstly need a tomato base, there's a tasty one on the BBC website (which also has pizza topping suggestions), or you can just make a simple sauce with tomato puree, seasoning and tinned tomatoes.
What goes on top depends on who likes what. Get your friends to bring their toppings, find out in advance or have a selection available on the night – and to be extra eco-friendly try and buy as locally as possible. Even better if you grow your own veg – and even cheaper too. Some toppings should to be cooked in advance to release flavours, such as peppers (grilled or roasted), aubergines (in the griddle pan) and onions (lovely fried up with garlic), but others, such as tomatoes, mozzarella and olives don't need any prior cooking. Choose toppings according to taste and how much time you want to spend on the preparation and cooking.
Some say that to cook the pizza and get an awesome crust you'll need to buy a pizza stone (there's a good selection on Amazon's website), but if you're on a budget you can make your own by using an unglazed tile and often a non-stick pan will do the trick just fine. Whatever you use will sit under the pizza to make sure heat is distributed evenly.
Pizzas with lots of toppings should be cooked at somewhere around 200°C for 20 to 25 minutes. A simple pizza like cheese and ham can be cooked to perfection on 230°C for 10 to 12 minutes. Just keep an eye on it And hey presto, you have a freshly made, delicious hot pizza to munch with your mates. Now all you have left to do is to decide on the movie.