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Winter Pizza With Beets and Onion Relish

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When I first told my companion that I was making ‘beet pizza’, the emotions on his face oscillated between ‘How could you?’ and ‘Why are you doing this to me?’ But my vision was clear and beckoning, like a glorious prophecy: a well-rested, crunchy pizza dough, thin slices of juicy beets, and a rich layer of hot, runny mozzarella. I think my companion first started doubting his initial judgement when the smells started wafting from the oven. Then, when he finally sunk his fork in and sampled the end result, his world flipped upside down and he wholeheartedly admitted that he’d been wrong.

I must admit that beetroot pizza surpassed even my own expectations. Which is wonderful, because now that the pinnacle of harvest season is definitely behind us (reluctant as I am to admit it), the frail fresh produce of summer and autumn will have to be replaced by heftier and more lasting fare – beets and potatoes and celery and all other kinds of bulbs and roots you can imagine. It’s the season of beet pizza, peeps!

I’ve made this dish twice so far. Once with pizza dough and once with puff pastry. Both turned out delicious, so it’s really up to you which you make. (Though, if you’re undecided, I recommend making the pizza as it’s really mind-blowing.) An important ingredient that you may have some trouble finding is onion marmalade. I had brought some back from my recent trip to France, but plan on perfecting my home made version so that I won’t have to be dependent on travelling to get it. Other than that, it’s as easy as a pizza can be!

Beetroot Pizza With Onion Marmalade

For best results, I suggest preparing the pizza dough a day ahead and letting it ferment at room temperature for between 12 – 24 hours. (I use the foolproof recipe from Simply Recipes.) Alternately, you can use your favourite pastry dough. Roll the dough out onto a tin and, if working with pizza dough, pre-bake in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes at 200°C. Slather the dough with a moderate layer of onion relish (you don’t want it to overpower all the other ingredients), arrange 1 – 2 medium sliced Cylindra beetroots (they’re my favourite kind to use) on top, and season generously with salt, pepper, and thyme. Optionally, you may sprinkle 1 – 2 cloves grated garlic on top, and drizzle just the tiniest bit of olive oil over the beets. Pop the tin in a pre-heated oven and bake at 180°C for about 20 minutes. Top with slices of mozzarella, and bake for another 10 minutes until the cheese has melted.

Serve at a candle-lit dinner on a cold and windy evening, accompanied by a salad of dark, bitter greens. Enjoy!

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