Pesto & Pizza

     I remember growing up on the farm – there was a specific day for laundry, another for ironing; those tasks each took most of a day. As I’ve said before this is my herb and spice week – one day for drying, the next for preparing vinegars, oils and butters and, that means today is pesto day. Seems like my past is coming back to haunt me but at least I can just throw the clothes in the washer and the dryer these days!
    Barry went to the Elk’s for dinner with the guys tonight so I used the freshly make pesto to make an individual pizza – somewhat reminiscent of Margerita Pizza. I like it extra crispy and lightly caramelized so I bake it a little longer than prescribed. Recipes for the pesto, pizza and pizza dough follow.

Homemade Basil Pesto
4 tablespoons pine nuts (or use all or part walnuts)
1 1/2 tablespoons diced garlic (about 4 large cloves)
2 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed (remove stems & any sections that might have gone to seed)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 cups olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1.  Place the  pine nuts, walnuts, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 30 seconds.
2.  Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper.
3.  With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is finely pureed.
4.  Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute.
5.  Serve, or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top. (I like to put in muffin tins that have been fitted with foil cupcake papers. Cover the muffin tin pan with foil and freeze; when pesto is solid, remove from pans and pop into a freezer bag. For smaller amounts, use ice cube trays.)
I double the batch and it yielded 9 standard muffin tins full of pesto.

Uses for Basil Pesto:
·   Add it to mayo for a delicious sandwich spread.
·   Brush it on slices of French bread (wrap in foil & bake @ 350° for 20 to 30 min.) or halved tomatoes and then grill or broil.
·   Slather it on corn on the cob and then grill (suggestion from Melissa Hoover Norman)
·   Add a little to pasta, soups, baked or mashed potatoes.
·   Use it to make the Pesto Pizza recipe that follows . . .

Pesto Pizza
Pre-baked thin pizza crust (can also be made from freshly made pizza dough)
Prepared pesto
Mozzarella, freshly grated from a block of cheese (or use fresh balls, cut into thin slices)
Thinly sliced tomatoes, blotted dry
Coarse salt & pepper
Olive oil

1.  Spread pre-baked pizza crust with a thin layer of pesto – spread to the edge.
Pre-baked crust has been spread with pesto; other ingredients are ready to be added.
2.  Sprinkle with grated Mozzarella, top with tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil.
3.  Bake in a preheated oven according to directions with crust (see below).

Pizza is ready to be baked.

Pizza Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (for whole wheat crust, substitute about 3/4 cup
white wheat flour) / more flour only if dough is sticky
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (equivalent to a ¼ oz. pkg.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water @ 120°
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

1.  Combine flour, yeast, salt and sugar in mixing bowl; stir.
2.  Add vegetable oil and water. Mix together.
3.  Knead about 5 to 7 minutes; shape, put in oiled bowl (turn to oil top of dough) and let rise until double in volume (about 30 minutes).
4.  Punch down; divide into 2 equal pieces; shape into round balls.
5.  Let dough rest for 4 minutes. Roll out to approximately 12” diameter (or vary shape to fit preference). Spray pizza pan with non-stick vegetable cooking spray and wipe off excess or lightly coat pan with butter or margarine for a crispier crust.
6.  Place shaped dough on prepared pan and let rise up to about 10 minutes, or omit this rising for a crisper, thinner crust. 
7.  Add sauce & other topping and bake in 450 to 475° oven for 20 to 25 minutes. 

To pre-bake crust
1.  Prick crust with fork and bake in a preheated 425 to 450° oven for 5 to 8 minutes.  Let cool, then wrap and freeze up to 6 weeks. When ready to use, bring crust to room temperature. Add sauce, toppings and bake in preheated 450° oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until all toppings are hot and bubbly.  Cover edges with foil if edges become too brown. 
2.  Or, refrigerate pre-baked dough for a couple of days; remove from refrigerator 1 to 2 hours before using. 

Related Posts:
Make ours "thin & crispy" — Pizza Crust & a couple of our favorite toppings
Pepperoni Pizzaz Pizza

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