When I took my students to Italy to see how olive oil was made, we ate these ‘fried’ pizzas at a great little restaurant called Il Vescovino in Panzano in the Chianti region. The chef fried the thin bases in oil, like poppadoms, then quickly topped them with tomato sauce, mozzarella and a little bit of oregano and popped them straight under a hot grill. They were the lightest pizzas I've ever eaten – just incredible – and this is how the first ever pizzas were made.
First, make your basic pizza dough
. Now make your tomato sauce. Heat a saucepan, add a splash of oil and the sliced garlic and cook gently. When the garlic has turned light golden, add half the basil, the tomatoes and a few pinches of salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 20 minutes, mashing the tomatoes until smooth, then taste, season again and put to one side.
Preheat your grill to its highest temperature. Divide the dough into 10 pieces and press them flat on to a floured work surface. Roll them out to about 0.5cm/¼ inch thick and allow them to rest for 10 minutes or so. Heat a frying pan over a high heat, add about 2cm of vegetable oil and fry each pizza for 30 seconds or so on each side. Remove with tongs and place on a baking tray.
Once all the bases are fried, smear each one with a spoonful of the tomato sauce and tear over some mozzarella and a leaf or two of basil or dried oregano. Drizzle with olive oil and grill until the cheese is bubbling and the dough is light brown and cooked through.