Monday, March 19, 2012

Arugula Pesto Pizza

It's March Madness and the North Carolina Tar Heels were playing yesterday so I wanted some basketball watching food as opposed to the typical Sunday dinner. So I made a pizza. 

Homemade pizza was a staple in my house on Friday evenings when my son was at home. But with my lifestyle/diet change and with my son being away at college, pizza has become a thing of the past. 

What I love about making pizza is that you can use a myriad of toppings - chicken breast, pepperoni, prosciutto, ground beef, Italian sausage, goat cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, pineapple, spinach, onions, mushrooms, peppers, shrimp, artichokes...whatever your little heart desires. And when I have too many choices, I will do a half and half and have two pizzas in one. In addition to the various toppings, you can use pesto, tomato or hummus as a base.

The only real noticeable difference in my pizza and the pizza I used to eat is the lack of gooey cheese. Nevertheless, the pizza turned out great and Carolina beat Creighton (87-73) it was a good day.

Pizza Making Tips:
  1. You will only require a small amount of sauce to make your pizza; never cover your pizza dough clear to the edge.
  2. If you use cooked vegetables on your pizza, make sure to cool them or you will have pizza "soup".
  3. Use very high heat, 450-500 degrees, and use the lower third of the oven to bake your pizza.
  4. If you are able to purchase one, get a pizza stone for your homemade pizza baking. Pizza stones make an excellent, crispy pizza crust  - but you can make a great pizza without it.
  5. To assemble your pizza, follow this order: oil, cheese, toppings, cheese, oil, garnish or oil, meat, veggies, cheese.

Kale and Arugula Pesto

1/2 c diced walnuts (OR pine nuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts)
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 c kale
1 c arugula
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
1/4 - 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
Dash of lemon juice 
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Add nuts to a small saucepan and toast on the stove top for approximately 2 minutes, tossing constantly. Remove from heat and cool.

Pulse garlic clove in food processor for about 30 seconds. Add kale, arugula toasted nuts and cheese and pulse. Add olive oil into the food processor in a steady stream until you get the consistency you desire. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in lemon juice.

Arugula Pesto Pizza

1 oz goat cheese, coarsely crumbled (or 8 oz mozzarella and 1/2 c Parmesan cheese)
1 package prosciutto
1 package pepperoni
1 lb mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 Roma tomatoes,  thinly sliced
1 small red onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
10-12 black olives
Pesto or tomato sauce (as base)

Yeast Free Pizza Dough

2 tsp baking power
2 c unbleached flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c olive oil
2/3 c water
Fresh rosemary, chopped

Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl. Knead on floured counter top for about 3-4 minutes. Cover with saran wrap until ready to roll and use.

Regular Pizza Dough (with yeast)

1/2 c warm water (110 degrees)
1 packet instant yeast
1 1/4 c water, room temp
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 c bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt

Measure the warm water  (110 degrees) into a liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle yeast over water and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, approximately 5 minutes. Add the 1 1/4 c water and oil. Stir to combine.

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the dry ingredients at a low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until dough forms. Replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Punch the dough down.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Form both pieces of dough into round balls and cover with a damp cloth. Let dough relax for 10 minutes. Shape the dough and transfer to a pizza peel.

Making the Pizza

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Dust the pizza stone or pizza pan with cornmeal. Shape dough and place on pizza stone. Brush some olive oil on crust. Layer sauce (or pesto) on the pizza dough, then the meat of your choice, veggies, and the cheese on top.

Bake until crisp, in lower part of oven, about 10-15 minutes.

All photographs are actual pictures of the recipe listed, prepared by Sweet Treats 'n Good Eats, and cannot be used without the owner’s consent.

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