Slice of the ac­tion

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Food - Roz Crow­ley

IN Ire­land we each eat over 3.5 ki­los of pizza per year, with un­der 50% of us eat­ing one a week. But what should we ex­pect from this Ital­ian treat? Pizza margherita should be un­com­pli­cated and is easy to make. Use flour, yeast, salt and wa­ter for the base. Al­low to sit for an hour to prove, then spread out and top with tomato sauce and basil. Tear up mozzarella cheese, and grate some Re­gato Ital­ian cheese for ex­tra flavour.

While a tasty snack food, pizza de­liv­ers a low enough 10% of pro­tein which ex­plains how we can be hun­gry an hour af­ter eat­ing one. Eat­ing a larger one won’t help, and with 10% fat con­tent, we cer­tainly don’t need to eat a whole one. A salad or hot win­ter veg­eta­bles are needed for a bal­anced meal.

Make an easy tomato sauce from a can of toma­toes with onions, gar­lic and herbs, adding a squeeze of tomato paste or a liq­uidised sun-dried tomato for depth of flavour. Or short cir­cuit the process and use a ready­made tomato sauce. Add mozzarella to fin­ish. Put all top­pings on just be­fore go­ing into the oven to avoid soggy bot­toms.

In­struc­tions on packs need to be fol­lowed closely, es­pe­cially in plac­ing piz­zas on oven racks, not trays, to en­sure crisp bot­toms. Use a hot oven set at the high­est tem­per­a­ture given. We found lower fan oven tem­per­a­tures were too low.

Marks & Spencer Wood Fired pizza mozzarella di bu­fala margherita 425g €8.50

Bub­bles of mozzarella, whole sweet cherry toma­toes make the tex­ture in­ter­est­ing on this ob­long pizza. A base taste of gar­lic and tomato with some Ital­ian Re­gato cheese pro­vides lus­cious­ness. The crust was crisp, with a slight chew from whole­meal flour. Tasters ap­proved.

Score: 8.25

Mi­lano Clas­sic Margherita 249g €2.84

The rim of this quite small pizza crisped up bet­ter than the base and was tasty. The top­ping was short on tomato flavour and the cheese lacked flavour too, but was gen­uine mozzarella and nicely creamy. A pleasant pizza.

Score: 7

Su­perValu Free From margherita pizza 350g €3.99

This gluten-free has a light base made with tapi­oca starch, rice flour, maize starch, psyl­lium husk pow­der. The out­side of the base crisped up nicely, but just un­der the fill­ing was quite damp. The top­ping had a good, nat­u­ral tomato flavour from roasted toma­toes, but the basil and oregano listed were barely dis­cernible. The light top­ping was real mozzarella, not full of flavour, but the tex­ture was gen­uinely creamy.

Score: 6.5

Dunnes Thin & Crispy stone baked pizza 328g €2

Slices of cherry toma­toes top a mix of 20% mozzarella cheese with 2% each of Mon­terey Jack, Ched­dar and 1% Edam cheeses with cheese pow­der. Though not in keep­ing with the Ital­ian tra­di­tion, the mix of cheeses pro­vide a melt­ing tex­ture. A flavour­some pizza which has a light, crisp base. The higher score was given in a blind tast­ing when no-one knew what cheese they had. But it’s not a margherita as we know it.

Score: 7

Aldi Ital­ian Cui­sine stone baked margherita pizza 290g €1.69

Ched­dar added to mozzarella and re­gato cheese, as well as added corn­flour takes away from the gen­uine tex­ture of this pizza top­ping, but the tomato base was rich and tasty. The base, like a few other sam­ples, has rape­seed oil which is not tra­di­tional ei­ther, and the pizza needed longer to cook than spec­i­fied on the pack. Score: 6.75

Good­fel­las Stonebaked thin margherita 345g €3

With just enough tomato for our six-year-old taster, but not quite enough for adults. It was topped with ex­tra ma­ture ched­dar which is not tra­di­tional, even with 20% mozzarella. Potato and maize starches were used to thicken and di­min­ished what should be a nat­u­ral pulpy sauce tex­ture. The gar­lic purée listed was not dis­cernible. Pleasant, but not margherita as the Ital­ians know it. Made in Ire­land.

Score: 6.5

Tesco stone baked Ital­ian Kitchen pizza margherita 286g €3.50

This fresh pizza has 20% mozzarella with 8% re­gato, a medium hard fat tasty cheese which gives a gen­uine Ital­ian flavour. Un­der the cheese, the sauce of tomato and herb was low in flavour, but the bread taste from the ad­di­tion of sour­dough cul­ture (the only brand we found to use it) makes a huge dif­fer­ence to the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence. A good all rounder liked by tasters.

Score: 8

Lidl Just Free margherita pizza 350g €2.99

This gluten-free pizza has a base made from has tapi­oca starch, rice and buck­wheat flours, corn starch, psy­il­lium husk pow­der in­stead of wheat. Tasters didn’t like the strong dried herb flavour, but ap­pre­ci­ated the slightly sweet tomato taste of the sauce. The mozzarella cheese had a gen­uinely creamy feel. The fan oven tem­per­a­ture given on the pack was not hot enough, but when we turned it up, it im­proved. Pro­duced in North­ern Ire­land.

Score: 6

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