I love pizza. I’ve never been one for the ‘American style’ ones you get delivered from the likes of Domino’s though. As a veggie I find there are rarely any interesting toppings that don’t include meat, and supermarkets do lovely fresh and frozen pizzas now for a lot less than you can get a sub-standard one delivered for. So if I’m going to eat pizza at home in my pyjamas, I’ll pop a supermarket one in the oven and have that. Also, delivery drivers can never find our house!
I much prefer the huge, thin, Italian ones you get in restaurants. They tend to have loads of toppings to choose from and it’s so nice to get dressed up and eat in candlelight with a cold drink and good company. When I lived in Carlisle I would go every couple of months to a local Pizza Express or Italian pizzeria with my now husband or with various friends and we would consume as many carbohydrates as physically possible (and usually a lot of wine!). They were right in the centre of town, so an easy meeting place for everyone, with lots of bars around it if we wanted to have cocktails after. Then it was only a 15 min walk home or £5 in a taxi.
But now we live in the countryside, we can’t just wonder into town, stuff our faces with pizza and wine and stagger back. Now a meal out has to be planned. Someone has to drive and so we’re conscious of parking spaces and charges, or we have to adhere to train or pre-booked taxi times. So needless to say, we don’t go out as often anymore.
One dish that was always popular on the table no matter who I was with was dough balls. Little balls of pizza dough served with various dips. I liked them, but always found them a bit boring. I was thinking about them a few days ago (as you do) and thought how much better they’d be if they were stuffed with tasty things. Et voila, my Stuffed Dough Balls were born.
The dough does take a bit of time to prepare, but it’s mostly proving time. Other than a bit of kneading there’s not much work to do. However, you could of course use shop bought pizza dough if you prefer.
The dough recipe comes from a fantastic cookery book Vegetarian Cooking by Roz Denny and Christine Ingram. I’ve had it for years and I’m still discovering amazing recipes in it.
Ready in 2 hrs from scratch (Dough = 15 mins to activate yeast, 15 mins kneading, 60 mins proving. Filling = 15 mins prep, 15 mins bake) – makes 15-20 balls
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 225ml of warm water
- 7g of dried yeast
- 350g of strong white flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 30 ml of olive oil + extra for greasing
- Whatever fillings you fancy (sun-dried tomatoes mixed with tomato puree, pesto and mozzarella, or combinations of all three work really well.
- Mix 150mls of the warm water with the sugar and sprinkle the yeast on top. – Pic 1
- Leave until frothy (about 15 mins). – Pic 2
- Put the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour the olive oil, yeast mixture and the rest of the water into the well. – Pic 3
- Mix well to a stiff but pliable dough. – Pic 4
- Knead for about 10 mins on a lightly floured surface or in a mixer with a dough hook until smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl, cover in cling film and put in a warm place for 60 mins or until doubled in size. – Pic 5 & 6
- Preheat oven to 220c / 200c fan / gas mark 7.
- Knead the dough for a min on a lightly floured surface to knock some of the air out and then divide the dough into 15-20 equally sized pieces. – Pic 7
- Take one piece at a time, flatten with your fingers, and place a small amount of filling into the middle. – Pic 8
- Then stretch the dough a piece at a time over the filling to conceal it. – Pic 9
- Place the balls seal side down in a lightly oiled muffin tin and glaze the tops with a finger dipped in olive oil. – Pic 10
- Bake for 10-15 mins or until the balls are a lovely golden brown and cooked through. – Pic 11
- Serve hot with garlic butter or extra virgin olive oil to dip into.