The first time I made pesto pizza, it was not good. The pizza part was fine. Judging by the number of tastes I took from the pesto, that part was just fine, too. What wasn't successful was the blending of the two. Instead of a taste of heaven, I ended up with a greasy green mess. I stuck to my normal summer pizza routine of fresh tomatoes with plenty of fresh basil and called it a day.
Then last summer I was idly flipping channels and happened to land on Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition. The chef suggested that the contestant swap out his extra-large-double-cheese-double-meat-lover's pizza for a slimmed down pesto pizza. Recalling that the primary problem with my pesto pizza was the grease, I decided to give their "diet" pizza a shot.
Pesto pizza calls for garden fresh basil and garden fresh tomatoes, two ingredients that are in abundance during harvest season. But what should you do if you don't have a garden or if your craving lands during the 10 months of the year when tomatoes aren't in season? I'll let you in on a secret: head to the grocery store and buy jarred pesto and any old tomato. No, it won't have the magic garden freshness. But it's still well worth making.
(Pesto recipe from Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition. The unlikely source of my pizza dough recipe is found at the end of this post.)
- 1 tablespoon (or packet) yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ cup warm water, 95°-105°
- 2 cups flour. Suggest a mixture of 1½ cups all purpose flour, 6 tablespoons corn meal, and 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour.
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- approx ½ cup additional water
- oil spray (I use olive oil in a Misto sprayer)
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
- 2 Tablespoons pine nuts (see discussion below for substitutions)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- 1-2 fresh tomatoes
- 4-6 oz cheese (I use a mix of mozzarella and muenster)
My pizza dough recipe hasn't changed since my original post two years ago, but my preparation method has, so let's start by getting that up to date.
sunflower seeds. I've also heard of just omitting them all together. So pick your option and proceed.
here - and yes, you can use a regular pizza pan if you aren't there yet).