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Valentine Warner's Fennel and Salami Pizza

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To celebrate Chef Valentine Warner's new pizzas for PizzaExpress, we asked him to share an exclusive recipe so you could knock one up at home, too. This delicious Fennel and Salami pizza brings one of Valentine Warner's favourite ingredients to the foreground. He combines fennel seeds with chilli flakes, mozzarella and PizzaExpress’ classic passata sauce, finishing the pizza off with grana padano, rocket and finely sliced fresh fennel tossed in lemon oil and lemon zest. Enjoy!

PizzaExpress dough recipe

Ingredients (Makes two pizza bases)

  • 150ml tepid water – 27 degrees C
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 15g fresh yeast or 2 level tsp dried yeast
  • 225g plain flour (plus extra for working)
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Method

Step 1: Measure water into a bowl. Add sugar and crumble fresh yeast into the liquid with your fingers, then swirl the liquid until sugar and yeast are dissolved. If using dried yeast, sprinkle over the surface of the water and whisk it in with a fork. Allow mixture to stand for 10-15 minutes in a warm place until froth develops on the surface.

Step 2: Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour yeast liquid in. Lightly oil or flour your hands and gradually incorporate the flour and liquid until they bind together.

Step 3: Sprinkle your work surface generously with flour. Tip the dough on to the surface and scrape out any that is sticking to the bowl. Begin kneading and after about 5-10 minutes the doughball should become smooth and silky, soft and supple.

Step 4: Leave dough to rise, then ‘knock it back’. (This releases large air bubbles which otherwise make the pizza uneven. Rub a little oil or flour on your fingers and gently lift up the dough and punch it down again. Divide dough into two equal sections by pinching it in the middle with your thumb and forefinger. This will give you two lumps of dough each weighing about 200g. Roll each into a ball on the palm of your hand until it is sealed underneath. Place on a lightly floured work surface. Cover each ball with an upturned mixing bowl, a damp cloth or foil and leave to rest for 10-20 minutes.

Step 5: When dough balls have rested and are soft to the touch but not too springy, they are ready to be stretched and spread into pizza trays.

Topping (Makes 1 pizza)

  • 80g (5½ tbsp) PizzaExpress passata
  • Two pinches fennel seeds
  • Pinch dry chillies
  • 8 slices fennel salami
  • 65g hard mozzarella, chopped into cubes
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 10g grana padano, grated
  • 50g fresh fennel, finely sliced
  • 10g rocket
  • ½ lemon
  • 2½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 220C.

Step 2: Stretch dough. Start with plenty of flour on the table and give dough ball a sharp slap. Flatten the dough using your fingers and a gentle amount of pressure. (Avoid using your fingertips as too much pressure will kill the yeast). Spread dough with a rolling pin into a round shape until it is approximately 11 inches wide. Dust off any surplus flour and place dough in a lightly oiled pizza pan or on a mesh screen or pizza stone for cooking. During cooking the dough expands slightly so make a rim round the edge to hold the filling. Do this lightly and evenly tapping the rim of the dough about 1cm from the edge.

Step 3: Spread passata evenly over base and sprinkle over fennel seeds and dry chillies.

Step 4: Place sliced fennel salami and scatter mozzarella evenly.

Step 5: Season with black pepper and cook for 10-12 minutes.

Step 6: While pizza is cooking, grate zest of half lemon into a bowl. Squeeze juice from lemon and add to zest with extra virgin olive oil. Stir well.

Step 7: Place sliced fennel and rocket into a separate bowl, add lemon oil and zest and toss until it is thoroughly coated.

Step 8: Once pizza is cooked (it should be lightly browned and crispy around the edges and underneath), place on a plate and sprinkle with grana padano. Scatter the salad over the pizza and serve.

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