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Beans, olives, mozzarella

This is a very unusual pizza. There are no tomatoes forming a moist ‘under-layer’; there aren’t even any onions. Instead, the dough is topped with a garlicky purée of white beans, piquant olives and melting, milky mozzarella. The results are deeply savoury, moreish and comforting.


Make the pizza dough and leave to rise. Preheat the oven to 250°C/Gas 9, if it goes that high, or at least 220°C/Gas 7. Put a baking sheet in to warm up.

Meanwhile, heat the 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan over a low heat. Add the garlic and cook gently for 30 seconds or so, just until it starts to fizz. Add the beans with 200ml water and increase the heat. Simmer for a minute or two. Then use a handheld stick blender to blitz the beans and their liquid to a purée. Season with salt and pepper. The purée should be a spreadable consistency; if too thick, stir in a splash of water.

Knock the air out of the risen pizza dough, leave it to rest for a few minutes on a lightly floured surface, then cut it into three. Roll out one piece as thinly as you can. Scatter a peel (pizza shovel) if you have one, or another flat baking sheet, with a little flour (or polenta) and place the dough base on it.

Spread one-third of the bean purée over the dough. Tear up one ball of mozzarella and distribute it over the dough, followed by one-third of the olives. Trickle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Slide the pizza on to the hot baking sheet in the oven (for a really crisp crust). Alternatively, simply lay the baking sheet on the hot one in the oven (to avoid the tricky pizza transfer). Cook the pizza in the hot oven for 10–12 minutes until crisp and golden brown at the edges. Repeat with the remaining dough and topping. Serve hot, in slices or wedges.

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Makes 3 pizzas, each serving 2–3

  • 500g pizza dough
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to trickle
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 x 400g tins white beans, such as cannellini, drained and rinsed
  • 3 balls of buffalo mozzarella (about 125g each)
  • 150g stoned black olives, very roughly chopped or torn
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

This recipe is taken from...

Hugh’s Three Good Things