Make a Roman Pizza

I have just got hold of a fantastic book by Mark Grant; ‘Roman Cookery, Ancient Recipies for Modern Kitchens’. Some of the recipes, it has to said, may not be entirely kid friendly (Pig’s trotter for tea tonight kids?) but a lot of them are quite similar to food we eat a lot. So it wasn’t too hard to persuade everyone to have a go at making a Roman Pizza, based on the recipe for Staititai or Honey and Sesame Pizza.

We followed the recipe properly using a spelt flour, but actually I think any regular pizza dough would be fine. So here is our simplified recipe:

  • 1 piece of pizza dough (preferably made with spelt flour) or ready made pizza base
  • olive oil for frying
  • some feta cheese crumbled up (or other cheese of choice)
  • sesame seeds
  • a drizzle of honey.

Roll the dough out until it is thin, and leave to rise for 20 mins. Heat the frying pan with the olive oil and fry gently on both sides until it is golden brown. Remove from the pan and sprinkle with the cheese, sesame seeds and honey. Melt the cheese under a grill then cut into pieces to serve.

pizza

We made a couple of variations – one cooked in the oven instead of being fried, and one made with cheddar cheese. The oven baked one was good but much crunchier and not as moist, the fried one was more like flatbread.

The verdict? No child was very keen on the feta version which smelt quite whiffy when the feta was melted, but the cheddar cheese version was lovely – like cheese on toast and was happily gobbled up with some lentil soup – a very Roman meal.

The most interesting thing though was the obvious missing ingredient. Where were the tomatoes?!! Did the Romans not like them? No, after a bit of research we discovered that the tomato was not introduced to Europe until the 16th century when in was brought back by the first explorers of Mexico. So the poor Romans had no tomatoes, no peppers and no aubergines (which were brought back from the Middle East). It was worth making a Roman Pizza just to learn this!