Monday, September 19, 2011

Pesto and Pepperoni Pizza

Every year, I think to myself, "I should make pesto." And every year, I look at recipes and realize that you need a lot of basil. So every year I'd give up, thinking I'd never have that much basil.

This year, I planted my own basil. And I had a basil explosion. I could finally make pesto! Hooray!

But pesto's a pretty simple recipe by itself. And I wanted to taste it right away. I had some refrigerated store-bought pizza crust that needed to get used up--so why not use it on pizza? It was like the pizza and pesto gods were giving me a sign.

Like I said before, pesto requires quite a bit of basil. A couple cups' worth. And not loose, sort-of cups, either--nice, packed-down cups.

This recipe's just the right size for my little food processor!

Next are pine nuts. You could use any kind of nut you wanted--walnuts are a pretty popular alternative. But pine nuts make it more authentic.

Then some grated cheese. I used a 3-cheese blend, which is what I had available (I think it's Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano cheeses) but any firm, aged cheese like that works.

And because I love garlic, I added garlic.

A squeeze of lemon (from what looks like the biggest lemon in existence, being squeezed by a giant hand) will bring out the bright, fresh basil flavor.

Some oil will help the pesto blend, as well as preserve the basil.

Now whirr everything together.

Be sure to scrape the sides down. It may look completely blended from the outside, but when I took the lid off, there was a whole leaf that hadn't been chopped. So scrape, and chop again.


Now onto the pizza. I bought a ready-made crust from Trader Joe's. It's okay. I'm really not a huge fan of making my own pizza, to tell you the truth. It seems like it takes the crust forever to bake. I usually use those already-cooked ones that they sell in the Italian/pizza aisle. But I did want to give this a try. It worked okay.

Whatever crust you use, be sure to follow the directions on the package.

Anyway, flatten the pizza onto a lightly-oiled pan (or, if you're planning on cooking this on a pizza stone, be sure to preheat your stone well in advance, and have a good coat of flour or cornmeal on the bottom of your pizza crust, to make sure it slides off smoothly.) The instructions on my dough said to roll it out to a 12" circle--I used a rectangular pan. That might have added to my baking time.

Smear a nice coating of your pesto onto the crust. Not too much, but enough to remind you that it's there.

In retrospect, I wish I'd added a little more than this. So if you make this at home, keep that in mind.

I put the rest of the pesto into an ice cube tray. When they're frozen, I'll pop them out and stick 'em in a plastic Ziploc freezer bag to keep for later. They're the perfect addition to simple Parmesan-butter pasta, or added to a tomato sauce or soup.

I had some diced pepperonis that I sprinkled across the pesto-d pizza crust.

I had some cute little grape tomatoes.

I cut 'em all in half and scattered them over the crust too.

Finally, I cut some fresh mozzarella into thin slices and layered it over the top of everything.

Yum again.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I drizzled mine with olive oil, too, but I would recommend you not do that--between the oil on the pan and the oil in the pesto, things got a bit...well...oily.

Bake according to the directions on the pizza crust, or until the cheese is melty and the crust is cooked all the way through.

Mine took quite a long time--the instructions said 8-10 minutes, but in reality it took closer to 25-30 minutes. The middle took forever to get cooked. Luckily I like my cheese on the darker side. Someday I'll buy myself a pizza paddle so I can make pizza on my pizza stone. Ah well. It got done eventually.

Here's after 10 minutes. It does look good--but the crust was still doughy in the middle. I just kept setting the timer for a few minutes at a time, and checking back. After about 25 minutes, the crust was finally crisp and golden brown.

Whenever your pizza happens to get done, take it out of the oven. Then cut yourself a nice slice.

Then dig in!

Recipe: Pesto

2 c. packed basil leaves
1/4 c. pine nuts
1/4-1/3 c. Parmesan (or other hard, aged cheese)
3 garlic cloves
juice from half a lemon
1/3 c. olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a food processor; blend until you have a nice, green paste.


premade pizza crust
diced pepperonis
grape tomatoes, halved
fresh mozzarella cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper

Roll out pizza crust as per package directions. Spread pesto over the top of crust. Spread pepperonis and tomatoes over the top. Cover with mozzarella cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake according to directions on pizza crust package.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds good!! I can't wait to try it, minus the tomatoes since I am not a big fan of them.