Moroccan Bastilla Pizza


This was a recipe I submitted to a cooking competition a while back. I didn’t win, but this savory and sweet pizza recipe was really delicious and I wanted to share it.

This is a time-consuming recipe. You don’t need to make homemade dough. Though the saffron in the dough gives you beautiful bursts of bright yellow throughout, the flavor is mild and not worth the trouble if you don’t have the time. Packaged dough will do just fine. The other components can be made a day in advance. And it’s worth getting all the ingredients out, measured and ready to go before you start. If you do, the steps will fly by.

Moroccan Bastilla Pizza
Makes 1 large pizza, serves about 6

For the dough:
¾ cup (180ml) warm water
1 Tablespoon (15ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/8 teaspoon (1/2 packet/3.5g) active dry yeast
¼ teaspoon (1.25ml) honey or sugar
1 large pinch saffron threads (about 30)
1 Tablespoon (15ml) fresh cilantro, leaves only, chopped
1-3/4 cups (420ml) all-purpose or “00” flour, plus more for kneading
1 teaspoon (5ml)  salt

Mix the water, oil, yeast, honey/sugar, saffron, and cilantro together in a medium bowl. Let proof for 20 minutes or until frothy.

Whisk the flour and salt together. Add to the wet ingredients and mix with a spoon until combined. Turn onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about five minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add small amounts of flour. It is OK if the dough is a little sticky.

Sprinkle the dough with flour, rubbing to coat, and place in a bowl large enough for it to grow. Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm spot for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and either store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for one day, or use right away.

For the sausage:
1 Tablespoon (15ml) extra-virgin olive oil
½ small red onion, or about 3 oz. (90g), finely chopped–use the other half for the pickled onions below
2 oz. (60g) golden raisins, chopped
½ (2.5ml) teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon or a few pinches ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you want it spicy)
¼ lb. (115g) ground chicken thighs
2 Tablespoons (30ml) fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon (15ml) fresh cilantro, leaves only, chopped
Black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, raisins and salt and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about five minutes. Add the cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Combine the cooled onion mixture with the ground chicken, parsley, cilantro and a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.

For the sauce:
2 Tablespoons (30ml) unsalted butter or extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons (30ml) all-purpose flour
1 bay leaf
Pinch nutmeg
1/4 cup (60ml) grated parmesan cheese
1 cup (240ml) whole milk

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the bay leaf and nutmeg and cook for one minute until fragrant. Add the flour and cook until bubbly but not brown, about 1-2 minutes. Add the milk and whisk to keep lumps from forming. The milk can be cold. Add the parmesan cheese and cook until the sauce thickens. It should be thick, but not stiff. Set aside to cool. When cooled it should be the consistency of pudding.

For the quick pickled onions:
½ small red onion
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch salt
Pinch sugar

Slice the red onion as thinly as possible. In a small bowl, toss the onion with the lemon juice, salt and sugar. Set aside.

For the other toppings:
1 small zucchini
Cumin, ground
1 rounded cup of grated part skim mozzarella cheese
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
½ teaspoon powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, leaves only, chopped

Slice the zucchini as thinly as possible and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and a dusting of cumin. Set aside.

Toss the almonds with the powdered sugar and set aside.

To assemble the pizza:

Have the dough at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 500F/260C degrees.

Dust a regular baking sheet with a small handful of coarse cornmeal, about 2 tablespoons (30ml).

Roll and stretch the dough into a large rectangle and carefully transfer to the baking sheet. You may need to stretch and reshape it on the sheet.

Spread the sauce evenly over the dough, as close to the edges as possible. If the sauce has formed a skin, stir it into the sauce before spreading.

Sprinkle the mozzarella over the sauce.

Dot the zucchini slices over the mozzarella.

Pinch small pieces, about 1 teaspoon each, of chicken sausage and place evenly across the pizza.

Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until the sauce and cheese are turning brown and the sausage is cooked.

Transfer the pizza to a cutting board or platter and top with the pickled onions, chopped parsley and cilantro, and almonds. Serve hot.