rustica pizza

chicken, bacon, spinach and tomato pizza on a naan bread base

I seem to be writing about nothing but pizzas at the moment. I don’t know what it is but I can’t stop craving that perfect mix of bread, cheese and tomato.

What luck then, that Domino’s invited me to try their Gourmet range of take away pizza. I’m so-so on Domino’s pizzas usually, I find their bases a bit blandy and bready, instead of puffy and yeasty as I like them. The base can be so easily overlooked but it for me it should definitely be the star of a pizza. But if they’re paying I’ll give it a go.

Armed with a group of friends, we tried out their Firenze and Rustica pizzas, and a bunch of sides. The ordering system is inventive, with an online order tracker with automatic post-back (one for the jQuery fans) that updates onscreen as to what your pizza is up to at any time. This probably works really well when you’re having a delivery, but if you’re collecting there is nowhere to be told when you should turn up for it. We just pot-lucked it in the end; had we not we’d probably still be staring at the screen.

dominos rustica and firenze pizzasThe Firenze is topped with salami, pepperoni and peppers, upon which my chum demanded extra chillies. I ordered the Rustica for me which boasts chicken, bacon, spinach and SunBlush tomatoes. The spicy pizza went down with my friends really well, just what they were after. The Rustica was perfectly OK, just a very ordinary takeaway pizza. The base was certainly a lot better than I remember, with a bit of stretch to it, and the spinach was a nice touch. As for the sides, the garlic mozzarella sticks were great (they’re fried cheese; how can you go wrong?) but the chicken wings were abysmal: little sweaty things that tasted only of that chemical heat you get that flashes hot then disappears immediately.

Furthermore it cost a small fortune. One of these Gourmet pizzas costs £16.99 which is no small figure for something which has a relatively tiny base cost. I haven’t a clue where your money is going.

I was inspired to beat them at their own game. I had one of Warburton’s square naans to hand and they are sensational on their own; mildly spiced, excellent texture and just enough crunch (Atul Kocchar loves them!). However they also work fantastically well as a pizza base, so topped with roast chicken, smoked bacon and a splash of spinach to convince you it’s a balanced meal you have a superb pizza. A fraction of the cost and I can have it ready before the guy on the moped arrives.

Rustica pizza (serves 2):

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

½ tin of tomatoes

Balsamic vinegar

1 Warburton’s naan

1 ball of mozzarella, dried well and grated

1 roasted chicken breast, diced

2 slices of smoked bacon, cut into lardons

Small handful of fresh spinach leaves

  1. Get the oven on as hot as you can. Pop the halved tomatoes in a baking tray and shove them in while you get on with everything else.
  2. Get a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the bacon for a couple of minutes, tossing occasionally until starting to colour (you will finish them off in the oven). Tip the bacon on to some kitchen roll to drain and add the tinned tomatoes, turning the heat up high. Add a dash of vinegar along with a pinch of salt and sugar and allow it to bubble furiously for 4 – 5 minutes until the mixture is thick and gloopy. Tip this into a sieve over a bowl and mash well to squeeze all the juice out (you can discard the pulp).
  3. Lay the naan on the baking tray and smooth over the tomato sauce. Top with the meats, cheese and spinach and pop in the hot oven for 7 – 8 minutes until the spinach has wilted and the cheese melted. Take the pizza and the tomatoes out of the oven and dot the surface of the pizzas with the now-concentrated tomatoes.
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