Jun 8, 2009

basil pesto pizza

Homemade pizza is an easy standby meal and I love how I can make it as healthy (or not) as I please. After a very busy couple days this weekend running from gallery openings at 1AM SF, to a BBQ with friends in Marin, to the Temescal Street Fair Sunday afternoon, the hubby and I were beat. Needless to say a dinner that was quick and easy to put together sounded excellent. Trader Joe's has quality pre-made pizza dough, I love the whole wheat version. Also we had picked up this pesto from East & West Gourmet Afgan Food at the farmer's market over the weekend. These guys have amazing spreads and bolani's, flat-bread stuffed with spinach, pumpkin, potato, or lentils. I've seen them at many farmer's markets in the area and they are always good about giving out lots of yummy samples...I digress.

Tomatoes are slowly beginning to emerge at the local farmer's markets. I found some this weekend from Chico, about 140 miles East, at a market on Saturday in the Fillmore district in San Francisco. Add a few bitter arugula greens from our garden and fresh mozzarella, and dinner was served.

Recipe for Whole Wheat Basil Pesto Pizza

1 Pre-made Whole Wheat Pizza dough
1/2 - 1 cup pesto
2 large handfuls of cherry tomatoes cut in half
1/2 cup greens coarsely chopped
Mozzarella Cheese shredded or cut into pieces

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is heating take the dough out of the bag and let it rest a well-floured surface for 15-20 minutes. Once rested briefly knead the dough for a couple minutes, using a little flour to keep it from sticking until a smooth ball has formed.

Sprinkle more flour on the work surface and on the top of the dough and shape it into the size and depth of your crust. I find the easiest way to do this is using a rolling pin, but simply using your hands to pull and push it apart also works. Lightly cover a pizza stone (or large cookie sheet) with corn-meal and roll crust onto the stone.

Using the back of a spoon spread the pesto out over the crust, then add the tomatoes and greens. As you build the pizza add more of any ingredient or substitute other ingredients in as desired (I recommend fresh sausage, olives, zucchini, or fingerling potatoes as good additions here).

Finally sprinkle with cheese. My husband loves cheese and so we use quite a bit, thus I hesitate to say how much cheese to use. Add as much as makes you happy. I'm not sure if a pizza can have too much cheese. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is slightly toasted on top and the crust is starting to turn golden. Once removed from the oven, let the pizza cool for a few minutes before slicing.

(photography: alison clayshulte)

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