A little like pizza, or bruschetta; an oily loaf

You can have the perfect pizza at home, one that I can be put together in the same time it takes to venture into the night to visit the local licence-to-print-money. And you don’t have to make the dough. You don’t even need focaccia.

All you need is a white cottage loaf — the sort with a circular base and a semi-spherical top — the best olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, salt, a few vegetables, a well-flavoured melting cheese, whatever else is about, and a little lateral thinking.

Although this dish represents the ultimate in simplicity, it is important that the ingredients be first class. The best breads are the crunchy white Italian loaves, or a similar local version from your favourite baker. If you make it yourself, all the better.

You must have plenty of the best, richly flavoured virgin olive oil. The origins of this dish are worth noting. It comes from the olive-growing regions of Italy during harvest.

Large slices a loaf of bread — Slice the bread parallel to the base, about 2 cm thick. You should end up with 5 slices of varying diameters.

1–2 red peppers, roughly chopped

4 tomatoes, skins removed by making an X on the base and dunking them for about 20 seconds in boiling water — If they’re out of season, use tinned tomatoes, no salt or sugar added.

pinch of salt

1 cup full-flavoured virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped finely

100g hot salami, skinned and sliced to whatever thickness you like

100g melting cheese — Try Raclette, or Parmesan, or Gruyere, or cheddar.

black pepper bunch of chives, chopped


Heat the oven to 200°C. Put slices of bread on a baking tray and place in the oven until the tops dry out. Turn until bases are crisp. This should take about 15 minutes. You are not about making toast, just drying out the surface to make it firm and crisp.


Allow the dried bread to cool.


Steam the peppers until soft. Set aside. Peppers taste much better when roasted and skinned, but that takes time. If you’re thinking ahead, take the time and effort, and skin them.


With the back of a fork, or a potato masher, or best of all, a hand-held whizzer, mash the tomatoes with a pinch of salt and three- quarters of the olive oil, added gradually. Mix in most of the chopped garlic. The rest of the garlic should be mixed with the remaining olive oil. Depending on your machine, you will end up with anything from a tomato pulp to a tomato puree.


With a pastry brush, paint the dried-out bread with the olive oil-garlic mix.


Spoon the tomato-olive oil mix thickly on the base, cover with the salami and peppers. (Marinated mushrooms, available in quality food shops, work superbly in this combination, as do artichoke hearts marinated in olive oil.) Sprinkle with the cheese.


Bake in a 220°C oven until the cheese has melted and the tomato mix has been heated through, about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the show to make sure the cheese does not burn.


Just before serving, sprinkle the pizza with a good dose of olive oil, black pepper and the chives. The pizza will be dripping with olive oil and have a delicious aroma. Serve in tiny slices.

The dried and oiled bases make for marvellous platforms for purees of olives, or raw tomatoes, warmed through — use your imagination — and they are great for openers at a dinner party, when the guests are standing around, not quite knowing what to do, or where to go.