I found the recipe for this Berber Pizza in a book evocatively titled “A Platter of Figs” by David Tanis of the much-lauded Berkeley, Calif. restaurant Chez Panisse.
Although many of the recipes in here call for the addition of meat, I was pleasantly surprised to find one that sounded delicious and was really easy to veganize. The original recipe had some butter– I just substituted with olive oil for healthier and, dare I say, equally tasty results.
This past week, I had an old friend and her family, including her charming two-year-old son, visit for dinner. I made this pizza, among other things, and the vote was unanimous– we all loved it.
The Berber Pizza, which is from North Africa, is a covered pizza and the filling is so simple yet so delicious, it’s almost mindblowing. Don’t let the word “pizza” mislead you– this is not your average takeout-style pizza. Instead it’s elegant and unusual and what’s best, it couldn’t be easier to make. All you need are some onions and some everyday spices, and some flour.
(Adapted from “A Platter Of Figs”)
For the dough:
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I didn’t try substituting with whole wheat even partially because I wanted to keep the crispiness of the crust)
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup olive oil
For the filling:
4 medium onions, sliced thinly
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted and powdered
1 tsp coriander seeds, roasted and powdered
1 tsp red chilli powder, like cayenne
2 tsp ground black pepper
Salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped coriander/cilantro
To make the dough, mix the yeast and 1/4 cup of warm water and 1/2 cup of flour. Set aside until the mixture becomes foamy, about 10-15 minutes.
Now add four more cups of flour, salt, olive oil, and the remaining 1 cup of warm water.
Knead into a soft but smooth dough. Add more flour if necessary.
Cover and allow the dough to rest for at least 2 hours or even overnight, in a refrigerator.
To make the filling, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Now add the onions and stir quickly over high heat until lightly browned but still crunchy. Add the cumin, coriander, chilli powders and black pepper as well as salt to taste.
Stir in the coriander leaves and set aside to cool.
Punch down the risen dough and divide into six equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball. Set the dough balls aside to rest for 10 minutes, covered.
Roll out two of the dough balls into 8-inch discs, using a little flour if necessary.
On one disk, spread out a third of the onion mixture evenly.
Moisten the edges of the second disc by brushing on a smidgen of water, then press down on top of the other disc with the filling. Press the edges together to seal.
Roll out the pizza into a 12-inch round. Make two more pizzas the same way using the remaining dough balls.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the pizza on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake each pizza in the oven, one or two at a time, for 22-23 minutes or until lighty golden and crisp.
Brush the top with olive oil as soon as it comes out of the oven. I also brushed a mixture of 1 tbsp olive oil + 1 tsp dijon mustard + 1 tsp garlic powder on one, and the added flavor was delicious.
Cut into wedges, and enjoy!