Sunday, August 30, 2009

Recipe #1: Pesto Pizza With Goat Cheese

I love using pizza dough from the grocery store to create a bunch of different kinds of pizzas. The pizza below is one I've made a few times, and it just gets better every time. Please note -- wherever you see a (*) next to an ingredient or tool, there is a comment about it below the recipe. Enjoy!

Pesto Pizza with Goat Cheese

Cooking time: 12-15 minutes

You'll need:

2 cups basil leaves
6 cloves of garlic, chopped*
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of pine nuts*
1/2 cup cornmeal
5 1/2 ounces goat cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Premade pizza dough*


food processor
pizza stone*
paddle or large cutting board to transfer dough to stone

To prepare pesto: If pine nuts are whole, add them to the food processor before any other ingredients and pulse until finely chopped. Add basil, garlic, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Put lid on processor, and pulse, slowly adding 1/4 cup olive oil. When well-blended, add remaining parmesan cheese and remaining olive oil, continue to pulse. Remove lid, add salt and pepper to taste. Set pesto aside. Yields 1 cup.

Preheat oven to 450. Use 1/4 cup cornmeal to sprinkle on surface where you'll be preparing the pizza. Stretch pizza dough into a rectangle or square. Size will depend on dough purchased, but dough should be no more than 1/2 inch thick in center and 3/4 to 1 inch thick for crust. Use spoon or brush to apply 3/4 cup pesto to dough, leaving an inch around the edges for crust. With hands, crumble goat cheese onto pesto.

Place onto pizza stone into 450-degree oven for 12-15 minutes until crust is raised and golden brown, and cheese is slightly browned. Serve!


-Garlic: I don't usually use fresh garlic when I cook, unless it's going to be almost raw in the dish. What I use instead is a huge jar of Spice World minced garlic. It saves me the time of having to chop (and have my hands smell like) garlic for any given recipe. For this recipe, if you use the jarred garlic, use two tablespoons.

-Pine nuts: Sometimes, these are also called Pignoles. I can usually find them either in the produce section, or in the 'international foods' aisle at the store. If your store doesn't carry them, you can substitute walnuts for pine nuts in this recipe.

-Pizza dough: The type of dough I used for this is not the type you can roll out from Pillsbury, but the type usually sold in the dairy section in plastic bags. The amount of pizza you'll end up with obviously depends on how much you buy, but with a typical bag from the grocery store, I can usually get about 8 pieces of pizza.

-Pizza stone: Oh, pizza stone, what a mystery you are. If you don't have a pizza stone -- a round terra cotta stone that can be heated to very high temperatures to give food a crisp -- that's okay. For this, you can use parchment paper on a cookie sheet, but you may need to slightly adjust the cooking temperature and time for whatever the parchment paper degree limit is. If you have a pizza stone and (like me) hadn't used it until recently, here are a few things you should know.

*Always let your pizza stone stay in the oven "baking" for about half an hour to 45 minutes before adding food to it. Otherwise, the stone can break if it's subjected to too much heat too quickly. Not allowing it to preheat can also cause whatever you cook on it to stick. In this case, sprinkle additional corn meal on the stone before you put the dough on it.

*Double up on the pot holders. You'll burn your hands very, very easily if you attempt to grab a 450-degree inch of terra cotta. Do yourself (and your fingerprints) a favor, and use two. Before you take the stone out of the oven to place whatever you plan to cook on top of it, make sure you have a plan for where you'll set it down to do that. You don't want to end up melting whatever you set it down on.

*Don't worry if pesto or oil gets onto the stone. That's actually good. The more oil bakes into the stone, the more "seasoned" and "weathered" it is for baking.

*Don't wash your pizza stone with soap. If you do, it will have the same effect as if you dumped oil all over it -- you'll be tasting Palmolive in all your foods from now on. Just use cold water, and let the stone cool completely (even overnight) before "washing."

Enjoy, and let me know if you have any questions!


pretty in ink said...

I have a pizza stone and I ADORE it! I am going to try this recipe, but I think I may add some onions to it! Sounds and looks delicious!

SoCal_Suz said...

This looks so delicious! Oh, I'm hungry for pizza now!

dokuzuncubulut said...

I love pizza. Very savory...

marla (Family Fresh Cooking) said...

Excellent pizza post!! I love pesto, homemade is by far the best! Your tips and techniques are wonderful!