A Bohemian Outdoor Pizza Feast

The thing I love about spring is the ability to get outdoors more. Not that I generally let it stop play, though, as we just get bundled up in our warmest layers and throw ourselves into the weather, come wind, rain or snow. But as it gets warmer, the nicest pastime is being able to eat outside.

It’s such a sociable thing to do, as there is generally less distraction (I’m talking about you TV) and so it encourages slower eating, more conversation and just generally enjoying being surrounded by nature. Listening to the birds tweeting above and the slight rustling of a breeze between the trees is just such a relaxing feeling.

With the sun peeking out on Sunday we decided to make the most of it and get the garden sofa out, set the table and invite family over for our favourite dish, pizza. The sun filled the patio and warmed our cheeks, making us feel like we were on the Mediterranean rather than in Yorkshire. We nestled in among the sofa cushions and chit chatted about what we had been up to.

I set the table with the gorgeous, bright cloth I bought from our recent travels to India and brought out cushions, blankets and antique candlesticks to create a cosy, bohemian setting to while away a couple of hours with loved ones. The prosecco was put in to chill alongside my stylish but practical enamel camping mugs, whilst we set to work on making the feast.

The herbivore (me) made a pesto, goat’s cheese, beetroot and crushed walnut pizza on a cauliflower base, which I named The Bohemian. If you’ve never tried a cauliflower base before I recommend you give it a try, as it’s arguably just as yummy but doesn’t leave you with the heavy bloated feeling that a bread base does.

The carnivore (him) made a rustic and simple but delicious tomato, mozzarella, olive and mushroom pizza on a bread base, which we decided to name The Traditionalist.

With our guests set up at the kitchen island with drinks, we set to work amidst a silver cloud of flour.

The Bohemian recipe:

My recipe started with putting a cauliflower head into the food processor and whizzing until it’s a soft powdery rice texture.

Then put it in a bowl and microwave it for four minutes until heated through.
 While this is heating, take a smaller food processor and make your pesto. I used a ¼ cup of Brazil nuts, a good handful of basil, a chopped garlic clove, a drizzle of lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Then add ¼ cup of grated parmesan and use a good few glugs of olive oil. Whiz in the blender until it resembles a paste – moist but not too runny. Add the olive oil bit by bit if you’re unsure on the consistency.
Once cooled a little, tip out the rice onto a clean tea towel and scoop each corner up to create a sort of knapsack. Thinking of this made me start humming the Littlest Hobo theme tune… Wring out the excess moisture – there should be about a cup full.

Add a quarter of mozzarella, a good pinch of parmesan, salt, pepper and mixed herbs to the cauliflower rice. Add one egg and mix in a bowl with your fingers until nicely combined and it resembles a dough.
Then get some baking paper and douse in olive oil or butter to stop the base sticking. Lay out your ‘rice’ and gently use your fingers to knead it into a pizza base shape. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Place the base on the pizza stone, still on the baking paper, and put it on the top shelf of a preheated oven (250°C/500°F/gas 9). We used the oven indoors because we don’t have an outdoor pizza oven but we do often use our pizza stone, which can be placed on a BBQ or fire pit for an authentic stone baked flavour. We'd love to install an outdoor pizza oven, like this one from Direct Stoves, during the summer.

After 8 or so minutes of being baked on its own, it’s ready for toppings to be added. Layer your pesto on first, spreading it evenly around the base. Then place roughly torn goats cheese, a bit of mozzarella, and place beetroot wedges evenly around it.

Crush your walnuts in a pestle and mortar or just with the back of a spoon on a chopping board and sprinkle them throughout your pizza.

Pop it back in the oven for another 7-10 minutes to cook and voila! When it comes out the cheese is gooey, the beets are caramelised and it’s ready to be enjoyed.

The Traditionalist recipe:

Put the flour and salt on to a clean surface and make an 18cm well in the centre. Add 14g yeast and 1 tbs sugar to the lukewarm water, mix up with a fork and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well.

Mix well until it looks like a thick porridge. When the dough comes together and becomes too hard to mix with your fork, flour your hands and begin to pat it into a ball.
Knead the dough by rolling it backward and forward using your hands to pull and push it away from you. Repeat this for 10 minutes, until you have a smooth, springy, soft dough.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel wrap, place somewhere warm and let it double in size for about 45 minutes.

You can make your own sauce but for ease we used a readymade passata. Add your own salt and pepper to taste.

Divide the dough in two – half can be frozen for another time. With the other half, divide the dough into balls. Flour and cover the ball and let it rest for about 15 minutes. This will make it easier to roll it thinly.

Take a piece of the dough, dust your surface and the dough with a little flour, and roll it out into a rough circle about 0.5cm thick.

Preheat your oven to 250°C/500°F/gas 9.
Put the rolled-out dough rounds onto each of an oiled baking sheet. At this stage you can apply your topping. Smear the tomato sauce over the base of your pizzas and spread it out to the edges. Tear over the mozzarella and scatter with the remaining basil leaves. Add chopped mushrooms and olives to taste and drizzle with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil and add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the pizzas are golden and crispy.
We took them out to our hungry guests on rustic wooden chopping boards and the pizza stone, standing back to admire the feast. They may not look perfectly round but it adds to the rustic vibe and they tasted delicious. 

We cracked open the prosecco and poured it into camping mugs to add a delightful, slovenly, rustic, bohemian touch. Hungrily we tucked into the pizzas and oohed and aahhed at the flavours.
Both pizzas were delicious but very different. The crumbly, salty cheese combined with the sweet beetroot of The Bohemian provided a salty sweet combination that was just heaven. The garlicky pesto added the perfect touch to the base and was a nice change from the usual tomato base. Combined with chopped walnuts and some peppery rocket for garnish to finish, the textures combine on the tongue to provide a taste sensation.
The thinly rolled pizza dough of The Traditionalist provided the most amazing base for the melty mozzarella and tomato, which are staples of the classic Italian recipe but then were pimped up with mushrooms and olives but you could add anything you like. The carnivore (him) kept this one veggie to suit all tastes but could as easily have added some lovely cold cut prosciutto.
After we’d had our fill of pizza, we sat well into the evening chatting. Wrapped up in the blankets, we lit the fire and absorbed the warmth on the chilly spring evening. As the embers died down we bade our farewell to our guests but promised that we would do it again very soon. Roll on long summer days and more outdoor feasting.


  1. Ooooh wow I absolutely adore this outdoor area! It looks so lovely and definitely inviting for summer evenings with friends.

    Love, Kerstin | http://www.missgetaway.com/

  2. Thanks Kerstin. It felt very cosy and relaxed, perfect for outdoor dining. I'm hoping for a lovely warm summer so we can eat outdoors every night. :)


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