I wanted to make something for St Patrick’s Day that would celebrate both Ireland and mid-March in equal measure; something that was neither sweet and eerily green (St Patrick’s Day food-colouring cupcakes) nor fusty and dull (bacon & cabbage, Irish stew, colcannon). After a little deliberation, I decided that what I wanted to make was a Taleggio and wild garlic pizza bianco (or, since it’s St Patrick’s Day, a pizza ‘bán’) to show off all the beautiful greens of spring – fresh, dark, new-growth rosemary from the garden with lovely, bright, wild garlic from Marlay park.
Even though I was initially a little apprehensive of the Taleggio (I’m a complete wimp about unknown cheeses) the pizza turned out to be one of the best and most delicious things I’ve ever made. The honey emphasises the rosemary, the rosemary tastes new and lively after a decade of basil, and when melted and bubbling, the Taleggio tastes like a good, flavourful buffalo mozzarella, but without all that liquid that is the enemy of a crisp, light pizza base. Basically, it’s ideal for this style of pizza, but if you know your cheeses – I don’t – you could substitute an Irish cheese instead: all you need is a mildish, creamy, savoury cheese that melts well and tastes good.
ST PATRICK’S DAY ‘PIZZA BÁN’
To make my pizza bán, I rolled the dough out thin and spooned a little crème fraîche over it, then added thinly sliced potatoes, salt and white onion slivers. After five minutes in a hot oven, I dotted the pizza with the Taleggio and some olive oil and when it was cooked, I drizzled a little honey over the top and added chopped rosemary, salt and a few leaves of wild garlic.
It was lovely – with a little more honey, you could serve it alongside nectarines for brunch; with a little more potato and a green salad beside it, you could serve it for dinner. It would also make for a great party food snack – easy to make, easy to eat and undeniably stylish.
Makes two or three pizzas
FOR THE DOUGH:
5oog strong white flour
2tsp fast-acting dried yeast
1 & 1/4tsp salt
300ml warm water
Mix the flour, salt, honey in a large bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in the yeast and add the hand-warm water. Mix until mostly incorporated and then bring together with your hands on the floured counter. Knead for about ten minutes, or eight if you’re impatient like me. Lightly oil a bowl for your dough and cover with cling film. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size. Knock it back and leave it for another 15-20 minutes. Then cut into sections – you can probably get about three large pizzas out of this.
FOR EACH PIZZA:
Semolina & vegetable oil for the baking sheet
1tbsp crème fraîche
1 small white onion, very thinly sliced
1 small potato, very thinly sliced
2 small sprigs of rosemary, diced
Wild garlic leaves
Honey to drizzle
Preheat oven to about 200 degrees c. Roll out the dough into the desired shape and thickness, place on an oiled and semolina-covered baking sheet and spoon a little crème fraîche over the dough. Slice the onions and the potato as thinly as you can and spread evenly on top. Season with salt and pepper and bake for about five minutes, or until the potatoes and onions begin to cook. Drizzle some oil on top and then sprinkle the pizza with the diced Taleggio. Leave it to cook for another ten minutes or until it looks done. Once it’s out of the oven, cover it with diced rosemary, wild garlic leaves, a drizzle of honey, some nectarine slices, a couple of figs….
Another idea for St Patrick’s Day: Darina Allen’s Irish soda bread with smoked trout paté