As a passionate home cook I was thrilled to set up The Junior Chef Cooking Club for my nephew & after a successful first lesson of hidden veggie meatballs & spaghetti, we were both excited for our second class!
The request for the second lesson was pizza, so once again I set about figuring out a recipe card and a way to get some extra veggies into the meal. (Although impressively he has already started to improve!) Immediately I thought of adding red peppers to the base sauce, as this would give a little sweetness and by making our own homemade sauce we would be able to make sure it was healthy.
As with the first recipe, I broke the sections down into children & adult activities, although I found that most sections were achievable, with supervision, by a child of my nephew’s age. There was the use of some new equipment in this lesson, including a nutribullet (or similar) and a knife for chopping up the toppings. Of course adapt any cooking to the child you are cooking with for safety.
The first section of the recipe was making the pizza base dough. The recipe I decided to use makes a thin crust pizza, which has the benefit of no resting time for the dough. This makes it perfect for a midweek meal and prevents anyone from losing interest whilst the dough proves – ideal when cooking with or for children! Obviously if you had the time and wanted to do a proved or deep pan pizza then you can adapt the recipe to achieve this.
Although it’s a quick dough, it does still require kneading to strengthen the gluten to provide the structure & texture you want. Asking a child to knead dough without any instructions is sure to provide you with a giggle – instinctively a lot of finger prodding occurs! After some guidance to use the heel of his hand to push away and his fingers to pull it back and turn (which is much more effective!) the dough started to become smooth & quickly sprung back when poked.
The pizza sauce is packed with both flavour & vegetables, making it a much healthier option than a jar of pre-made sauce. We made a double portion as it’s freezeable & multi use & I was able to add in additional veggies from the fridge that needed using up! Into the nutribullet mixing jar we added a whole jar of roasted red peppers, a jar of tomato puree, a chopped carrot, a couple of leftover fresh tomatoes, an onion, garlic, oregano, basil, salt & pepper & blitzed thoroughly, although it is fine to leave it a little chunky as well.
The brilliant thing about making a homemade pizza is the ability to control what it is in, and also what you top it with, which means everyone can have their favourites! I laid out a range of toppings for everyone to pick from, although at least 1 vegetable was required!
The dough needs minimal rolling out, remember it will resist being stretched because of the gluten. We stretched it and placed it on the baking tray before topping with the sauce & our individual selections. We then topped with cheese and popped it in the pre-heated oven for just 10-15 minutes until the cheese had melted & the base was crisp. It was time to enjoy our finished, veggie packed pizzas!!
The fab thing about this is how quickly you can whip up a healthier homemade pizza at home. However if you want to make this even easier the dough & sauce are both freezer friendy! Split the spare dough into individual portions, coat lightly in oil and slide into a freezer bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible & freeze for up to 3 months. When you want to make the pizza give the dough 24 hours to defrost in the fridge and then allow to come to room temp for 30 minutes before rolling out. The sauce can be frozen in freezer containers for up to 3 months as well & is multi-purpose as it can easily be used as a pasta sauce etc as well!
The second lesson was another big success! Different skills were involved in the dough making but lots more veggies were consumed in another alternative way! This was a really fun activity and provided everyone with pizzas topped with their favourites for a delicious & more nutritious pizza dinner! Next time for the Junior Chef Cooking Club it’s time to try some baking, and maybe take a break from hidden veggies for a Christmas treat.
Lesson 3 will be Christmas baking!
Date: October 2019