Sunday, January 14, 2007

Pesto-Cheese Pizza

Pizza in itself it nothing unusual but Mrs. Green Cheese is Andrew's nickname for Lillian so when I produced a green pizza the name for the recipe was obvious. Henceforth it was known as Mrs. Green Cheese Pizza.

Finding a good pizza dough recipe, however, is difficult, the glorious chewy-yet-soft crust produced in pizzerias is difficult to recreate at home without a specialized oven and high-gluten flour but there are a few things you can do.

1. It is essential to preheat your oven to at least 420 degrees. I've seen recipes that call for 500, but I'm too timid to crank it that high, not wanting burn off my eyebrows when I open the oven door. 420 works well.

2. Use only enough flour to be able to work the dough properly. The more flour you use the tougher the dough will be, so keep it on the light side. This is true for any bread recipe and if you substitute whole wheat flour in any amount you must adjust the overall amount of flour used i.e. instead of four and a half cups of flour you would use only two cups of all-purpose and 2 cups of whole wheat. If you're worried about sticky dough, use cornmeal on the pan which will also improve the crispness of the crust.

3. Using olive oil in the dough will improve the chewiness and texture. Don't use fancy, extra-virgin olive oil, just a light oil will do. I don't have room to explain why here, just take it on faith.

4. Don't use too much cheese. As tempting as it may be, the dough texture is always better when you use the proper amount. Of course "proper" is up for personal interpretation.

5. Toppings ALWAYS go on top. Toppings--top--get it? Always above the cheese. How else will you get the pepperoni, Canadian bacon, mushrooms (sigh) to be crispy and cooked?

You can buy the fancy pizza peel and pizza stones (got 'em, done that) but they're rather tricky to maintain for someone concerned with ease of preparation such as myself. Likewise with fancy pans, I use my plain old Airbake cookie sheets and they do well.

So now, arise and go forth. You have with you the tools for Pizza Bliss. Here's the recipe:

1 1/2 c warm water
4 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 t salt
2 T olive oil
1 1/2 T yeast
2-3 T cornmeal
prepared pesto
pepperoni, diced red peppers, diced chicken,
mushrooms, or the toppings of your choice.

For the dough, combine the first five ingredients in a bread machine and set it to "dough" cycle. Preheat the oven to 420 degrees. After the dough is ready, divide it in two and flatten each out on a lightly greased cookie sheet sprinkled lightly with the cornmeal.

Spread 1/4 c or less of the pesto on each pizza, topping with shredded mozzarella and then toppings. Bake for 18 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.

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Le laquet said...

Or ... go to the phone, dial 849999 and speak to Dominos :o) I know pure laziness!!

Hsien Lei said...

lol @ le laquet A new Dominos just opened up near us and we're so happy!

FYI, here's a recipe for pizza dough that you might want to try from Homely Scientist. :)

J said...

Maybe when I get a new oven, I'll try current one is in the process, sadly, of dying. So it will have to wait.

Jenny said...

Oh my lord, that looks so good.

(but, like le laquet, I'm more of a lazy delivery girl myself.)

damien said...

Your post made me so hungry . . . I hope my wife gets here soon so we can EAT!!!!

jen said...


Haley-O said...

Mmmmmm....Pesto! I make a great green "MONSTER PASTA" with pesto and ricotta cheese... The monkey loves it!

Thanks for the great recipe! I love pesto and love pizza. The two of them together are a match made in heaven....

jchevais said...

Neato! I just got my bread machine working again!


Makita said...

Oh My - so funny, I just posted a pizza making entry the other day... must be something in the air. :)

Neila said...

Yum! I love pesto! Thanks for this one!