Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cherry Tomato Basil Pesto Pizza

Don't know what to do with cherry tomatoes and basil growing out of control in the garden?

This is an easy recipe, if you have time. The things that are time consuming are roasting the tomatoes and making the pizza dough. There are ways to shorten the time if you know a quicker, easier way to make pizza crust but I don't recommend any store bought ones.

I'm not going to include my own recipe for pizza dough, it's a yeast-raised, half-unbleached, half-whole wheat flour recipe, and it's easy, but you do have to let the yeast rise. If you must know, it's on page 163 of Colorado Cache Cookbook, published by Junior League of Denver, copyright 1978.

Actually the crust is my least favorite part of this pizza and I'm looking at gluten-free recipes that I might be able to use. Future recipe...

You can break this one down into 4 parts:

1. Roasting the tomatoes, 2. making the pizza dough, 3. making the pesto, and 4. assembling the pizza. Then all you have to do is bake it, which doesn't take long. It can be easily adapted by eliminating cheese or flour if you want a vegan or gluten-free version.

Part 1: Roasting the tomatoes

2 pints (about 2 pounds) of cherry tomatoes- can be a mix of red, yellow, orange, purple, etc.

1 large clove of garlic, minced

4 T. extra virgin olive oil, or more

salt and black pepper to taste

Place the olive oil in the bottom of a glass baking pan. Stab each cherry tomato once before throwing it in the pan. Add garlic, salt, and pepper, and toss all ingredients together. Place in oven at 400 degrees and roast for about an hour. When they're done they'll look shriveled and caramelized. Put aside and let cool.

Part 2: The dough

I'm not going into detail here. Here's a picture of the yeast and then the dough after I added all the ingredients. I let it rise until it was at least double it's size. Then I punched it down and rolled it out, and placed it on a lightly greased pizza pan with some cornmeal sprinkled over it (keeps dough from sticking)

Part 3: The pesto

About a cup of fresh basil- or one large packed handful

1 clove of garlic

salt and pepper to taste

extra virgin olive oil- about 1/3 cup

1 cup of grated parmesan cheese (optional)

1 cup of walnuts or almonds or other nuts (optional)

I like my pesto without nuts. Some people think I'm nuts. It's a texture thing, I don't like nuts on my pizza. Just like chocolate, I prefer it nut-free.

Take one large handful of freshly picked basil leaves and rinse them off, shake them dry. Then all you do is grind up the garlic in the food processor, really small, and then throw all the other ingredients in, and pulse them so that you get small sized diced pieces with some texture, scrape the ingredients down off the sides of the food processor bowl if you need to.

Don't blend it until it's green goo. It should be chunky and the basil leaves should still be recognizable as some kind of shredded leaves.

Part 4: Assembling

Once you roll out the dough, place it on the pan as described in part 2.

Then spread the basil pesto evenly over the dough, it should be a uniform, thin layer.

Mix and smash the tomatoes lightly with a fork, tossing the ingredients together in the glass pan, then spread the tomato mixture over the basil pesto.

After that, you can add mozzarella cheese, any toppings- we used pitted kalamata olives here.

Bake the pizza at 450 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, or until the dough is baked through.

It won't last long.

Serve with the quality control officer as your witness.