This post has been way too delayed and I have been wanting to write all about it for so long now. Should I be making excuses ? Sure I have tons of them – Family and friends visited us in Singapore leading to so much time spent in feasting and merry-making. F1 mania had hit Singapore and it sure did hit us as well. And did I tell you, I just watched “The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie“ here in Singapore. Yes the longest running show in the world is celebrating its 60th anniversary. British Theater playhouse brought the play and it’s cast from London right here in Singapore and I was thrilled to go watch it. I had seen it when I was 14 and I had to see it again (this time with my husband of course :)) to relive those wonderful memories as a teenager. I was excited the whole week just eagerly waiting to watch it. Plus lots of time spent at work all have resulted in this post not making it in time. I do not want to make such excuses but so is human nature I wish to believe – We always have excuses and someone or something else to blame for something not going our way.
Anyway before I make you completely disinterested in this post any further with my rantings and excuses , let me tell you all about my next simple star ingredient – Basil. It is such a versatile herb that it never ceases to amaze me. As a kid I saw my grandma worshiping the Holy Basil (Tulsi) plant she grew in her garden. I cannot tell you the countless times she made a very strong drink using the “Holy Basil” leaves with fennel seeds, turmeric and some other concoction of herbs to cure my sore throat. There were so many ingredients she put in boiling water that how I wish I had bothered understanding or asking her what she was doing so now I could make it my sore throat home remedy when I have sore throat issues 😦
Now I have not used “Holy Basil” leaves in this dish. Rather don’t use it in my cooking either. Just thought of it since after all it is part of the larger Basil family if I may call it so. Here I have used the sweet basil or Thai basil with soft plum green leaves. From Thai chicken basil to Italian pesto and pizzas to fruit , cheese and dessert garnishes to icy basil teas and drinks , I love them all. Isn’t it amazing that basil can be used in mains, appetizers, drinks and desserts and not lose its flavor one bit and still taste so fabulous in all of them.
For this recipe, I had all ideas of making some kind of a pesto sauce but I wanted to try out some other cheese than Parmesan cheese and some other nuts instead of pine nuts. So too many ideas from goat cheese to blanched almonds to walnuts and even greater confusion, made me stick to the plain old simple yet classy homemade tomato basil sauce smeared over freshly baked dough and topped with a few basic ingredients and goat cheese.
For the sauce:
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 large red bell pepper
1 large onion
Few garlic cloves
Crushed Black Pepper
Bunch of fresh basil leaves
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon brown sugar or honey
1 spoon smoked paprika
Olive Oil to roast
In a baking tray toss all the above ingredients for the sauce with olive oil and roast in an oven at 200 degree centigrade until the garlic and onions start to brown and tomatoes are all squishy squashy. DO NOT PUT THE BASIL LEAVES WHILE ROASTING. I really do not like the blackened basil leaves if roasted. So once the above has been roasted , blend to form a sauce and at this stage add in the fresh basil leaves. I feel the sauce gets the distinct basil taste and a better flavor as well.
For the dough: I wanted to bake fresh dough at home so use your own recipe if you have something standard or buy the pizza bread from your local bakery. I opted to use this recipe from Foodwishes which is actually for pita bread 🙂 I followed it as Chef John explains but failed miserably to create the pita pockets that his dough so easily creates (Watch the video to see what I mean 🙂 ). Perhaps I did not let the dough rise enough. Anyway the end result was a pretty flat bread that I baked partially first. Then baked it completely once had the sauce and toppings smeared on it.
Putting it all together: Smear the sauce over the flat-bread partially baked. For toppings, I used soft goat cheese, green bell peppers, zucchini slices and chopped spring onions and baked for about 12-15 min. Tear a few basil leaves for garnish on top.
Some more recipes to enjoy over the web:
1) Looking for something cheesy . This one has lots of it – Pretty interesting veg lasagne
2) Love the golden beats, feta and basil combo here
3) A good basil pesto to be spread on your pizza here