I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: is there anything more primally satisfying than fried dough? If there is, I haven’t come across it yet. The Neapolitans have come up with all sorts of tidbits made from fried dough, of which we’ve already seen two examples, zeppole and calzoncini, where the dough acts as a carrier for a savory or sweet stuffing. Today let’s look at pizzette fritte, fried dough with a topping like a pizza.
All you need to do is to take some pizza dough, either homemade or store-bought, and form it into balls about the size of a golfball. You then flatten each ball out into small round, leaving a slight lip around its edges—or, as I mentioned in the post on calzoncini, you can use a tortilla press to do the job in much less time. In fact, I prefer the tortilla press as it will make the dough thinner than at least I can manage with my hands.
As you form each round, fry it in hot oil until it is lightly browned on both sides, preferably olive oil but if that’s too rich for you, vegetable oil, or a combination of the two, will do fine. Don’t brown the dough too much, as it will brown further in the oven later on.
As they are done, place them on a rack (or paper towels) to drain.
Now it’s time to get creative. You place these little pizzas on a cookie sheet and top them with whatever strikes your fancy—basically anything you’d put on a pizza, you can put on a pizzetta. The big difference: while a real pizza uses puréed raw tomato, for a pizzetta you use a sauce: typically, a simple marinara with a pinch of oregano added about halfway through the simmering. You use a sauce because the pizzetta will go into the oven for only five minutes, not long enough to cook raw tomato. A pizzetta can also be made in bianco (without tomato) with cheese or other toppings.
Here are a few of my favorite toppings for pizzette fritte:
- alla napoletana: marinara sauce, grated pecorino cheese
- alla margherita: marinara sauce topped with shredded or chopped mozzarella. Add a bit of basil on top just before serving
- mozzarella topped with bits of anchovy
- marinara sauce with oregano, bits of anchovy
- marinara sauce and little fried cubes of eggplant
- marinara sauce, mozzarella and capers
- mozzarella and little cubes of salame
You can mix and match these and other ingredients to your heart’s content…
|Prepped and ready for the oven: From the upper lefthand corner, eggplant and marinara sauce, marinara and mozzarella, mozzarella and salame, marinara, mozzarella and capers, mozzarella and capers and finally, the classic pizzetta fritta alla napoletana, topped with marinara sauce and grated pecorino.
Once you’ve assembled your pizzette, drizzle them with a bit of olive oil and season with salt, then pop them in a hot oven (200C/400C) for about 5 minutes or so, just until they warmed through and the cheese (if any) has melted.
These little pizzas are best served right away, but are also good at room temperature. They make a wonderful antipasto, snack or, if you make enough of them, even a light dinner. They’re great with cocktails because they’re small enough to hold comfortably in one hand. So enjoy!
NOTE: A curious factoid: pizzette fritte are also known as pizzette montanare, or ‘mountain (or mountain dweller’s) pizzas’. Beats me why—if anyone knows, leave a comment!
Categories: antipasti, snack