Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pesto Pizza

My husband loves me. I know this. So, too, I know it was not selfish self-interest that inspired him to buy me the cookbook, Pizza, for Christmas, although it has worked out well for him. We've used several of the recipes to make mouth-watering, delicious pizzas that have stretched our pizza repertoire.

You might notice I'm using first person, plural here. Perhaps you think I've gotten full of myself and have taken to using the royal "we". Not so. Today marks the first appearance of a guest blogger. My wonderful and talented daughter who takes my photos and makes my food look good also is quite handy in the kitchen. Sarah will be sharing her contribution to today's pizza following the main recipe.

I was skeptical about a pesto pizza, but Sarah loves pesto and was exuberantly excited to try this one. We used the recipe from the Pizza book as a guide, but used our own crust recipe and used amounts of the ingredients that looked good. And I have to say, this pizza was A-ma-zing. The fresh mozzarella wasn't as salty-tasting and melted better than our regular Costco mozzarella, and the pesto made the whole pizza zing with bright flavors. I am now a convert and will be happy to make this pizza anytime Sarah's up for making the pesto.

Pesto Pizza

1 recipe pizza dough (previous post)
6-8 oz fresh whole-milk mozzarella, thinly sliced and blotted with paper towels to remove excess moisture
1/2 cup (or so) halved and pitted canned ripe black olives
1 ripe tomato, cored and thinly sliced
1 recipe for pesto (following)

1- Preheat oven to 450 deg. F. Grease pizza pan with olive oil.

2- Roll out dough and transfer to pizza pan. Form a rim around the edge.

3- Spread the pesto evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border. Lay the mozzarella slices evenly over the top. Place an olive half, cut side down, in the center of each cheese slice and then scatter the rest evenly over the top. Arrange the tomato slices on the top.

4- Bake for about 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is deliciously melty and oozy.

Hey all! Sarah here. I know what you are thinking, "this is a FOOD blog, not a stupid photography blog *psh*!". Have no fear guys, after growing up in this house, I do know my way around the kitchen fairly well (my Fiancé is very thankful for this, too). I'm the queen of pesto in my house, and I'm here to share with you all my knowledge on the subject (which shouldn't take up too much of your time because I'm no expert.)

My love for pesto started in high school. Every Tuesday and Thursday after second period, I would go to the student store and buy a pesto bagel for 25 cents. That was my first ever intro to pesto, funny enough. My mother (bless her picky little soul) told me she didn't like pesto because it's "too oily", so I grew up with an idea that pesto was something gross like brussel sprouts (no, I've never tried them, but if you heard my mother talk about them, neither would you). I wanted to learn pesto but I was a little daunted because my mom is my source of all good cooking knowledge, and when she doesn't know something, it means trouble for me.

I went to searching on the internet. There are like four hundred million pesto recipes! Holy cow, guys. And they all have the same BASIC stuff in them, just in different combinations. I've made it a bunch of times now, and have got the basics down. What I have written below is pesto for a pizza. If you are making pesto for noodles or something, I encourage you to chop things by hand. This is the traditional way and it makes each of the flavors come out a little better. When you are making pizza though, have no fear of mushing everything together since it's just going to be a pizza base.

(remember, you can modify this to your own taste)

8-10 cloves Garlic (I'm not shy in my love for garlic. It's not good unless you breathe fire!)
2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt (the kosher salt is way better in it than normal salt)
4 Cups lightly packed FRESH basil
4 Tablespoons toasted Pine nuts
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (don't be afraid to add more cheese... I always add way more for pizza)
1/2 cup grated Asiago (or Pecorino Cheese... pretty much any hard cheese with a smooth flavor is good)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon thyme
~1/2 cup olive oil (go light here guys!)

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the garlic and salt until minced. Add the basil, pine nuts and the olive oil (Go slowly here and if it's looking runny stop adding) until smooth. Pulse in the oregano, thyme, and lastly cheeses. Don't obliterate the cheese. Make sure you can still see chunks of it. You want to pulse just until combined. Now you have a GOOD pesto. Taste it, and make sure it's to your satisfaction. Scoop it out in a bowl and add a layer of oil to the top of it if you are going to store for any extended period of time (this helps keep it fresh). When you remove the bowl from the fridge for your pizza, drain this extra oil off (it tastes good as a dipping oil for bread so it can be saved). It's important to keep the oil light for pizza. We've found that after the pizza is baked, you can end up with a big oil slick because the oil separates out. Make sure the oil in the pesto is half a cup or less. If you are using pesto for pasta it doesn't matter nearly as much, it's only pizza you need to keep this in mind (or when giving it to my mother).


Patricia Scarpin said...

Lynn, I've been meaning to try pesto forever. And I can't wait to try it on pizza, too!

Bruce Craig said...

Sooo,... This means I should buy you more cookbooks? Let's see: a Dark Chocolate cookbook, Shrimp cookbook, Lobster cookbook, Grand Marnier, Do I need to go on? Thanks for the pizza it was wonderful!

Jerry said...

When I told a friend that I eat pesto on pizza, he was horrified. I confused asked "What?"
He replied, "You never put pesto on a pizza."
I disagree, greatly. Pesto is lovely with a vegetable pizza.
Good to know I'm not the only one.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the inspiration! I just finished two pizzas and topped one with juicy tomato slices. I think I need another slice...

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Patricia- I hope you try the pesto. It's truly wonderful. I'm a convert.

Bruce - You know you can buy me a cookbook anytime, honey. I love you!

Jerry - You are not alone. Pesto lovers unite! For a pizza party. Will you bring the Italian Cream Cake?

Dianne - We've got to get together for a pizza making time. Kids play, mayhem ensues, and pizza conquers all.