Max took off to college this week—for his Sophomore year at Occidental—and one of the things he had asked if I could make before he headed out was homemade pizza. As I was shopping for the ingredients at the market, I remembered a delicious slice of pizza I had just had last week (at Town Pizza in Eagle Rock, CA, while dropping Bella off at Occidental for her Freshman year!). As Bella and I stood on line contemplating our slice of choice, she recommended the pesto pizza, which she had had before and loved. It looked delicious, and it was. So back in Nyack, I bought all of the necessary ingredients; and when I told Max I was inspired to make pesto pizza a la Town's, he was thrilled. Unbeknownst to me, it’s his favorite flavor at the Oxy establishment. (Fun side-note for all you Game of Thrones fans: while Bella was visiting Oxy last year, she went to Town for a slice and Peter Dinklage was right behind her!). Since I haven't yet gotten around to making my own dough, I used the same Old World dough I used in my Fennel pizza recipe. I was short on time (Cate wanted to get to bed early as she had volleyball practice early the next morning), so instead of heating the oven to 425° as I usually do, I cranked it up to 500° and baked the pie for about ten minutes (vs. 15). Then I turned the broiler on HI and let the top of the pie get nice and brown for 1 minute. Max loved it. He said it was his favorite of all the pizzas I make. So happy I could send my boy off with a great homemade-meal memory!
Serves 2 to 3 (the slices are much smaller than your average pizza-joint slice)
Ingredients for Pizza
- 4 oz. fresh pesto sauce (see below)
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella
- 8-10 cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 1 pizza dough (must be room temperature)
- Few tablespoons medium-grind cornmeal
- Olive oil for brushing on edges of dough
- Heat oven to 425° with baking steel inside. (The steel takes about 45 minutes to thoroughly heat through.)
- Prepare Pesto Sauce, as described below.
- Cut mozzarella into very thin slices.
- Spread thin layer of cornmeal on paddle board and leave it until next step is complete.
- Place dough on floured board (or work surface) and push from the center of the dough to the outside as you move around in a circle. Keep pushing it until the dough becomes even all around and circular. Then pick up and spin around with your fists in center of dough 'til it becomes the size of your pan and to desired thinness. (We like it thin in our house.) Place dough on cornmeal-covered paddle board.
- Spread 4 oz. of pesto evenly over dough.
- Top pesto with sliced mozzarella.
- Spread sliced tomatoes over entire pizza.
- With pastry brush, paint olive oil around edges of crust.
- Carefully slide pizza from paddle onto steel and bake for about 15 minutes. The crust should be browning around the edges.
- If you like your pizza even more browned, turn broiler on HI and place pizza on top shelf of oven for 1 minute. (Keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn.)
- Remove pie and let set for a few minutes before slicing.
Ingredients for Pesto Sauce
- 1 bunch of basil, to yield about 1 lightly packed cup
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Wash and dry basil and pick the leaves off the stems. Place in a blender or food processor.
- With a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic clove and salt to a paste. Add toasted pine nuts and continue to pound. Scrape mixture into the food processor with the basil.
- Add olive oil to food processor and blend until just smooth. (Don't over-blend or it will become too liquidy.)
- Pour mixture into a bowl and add cheese. Mix well. Taste for salt and adjust, if needed.
- This should yield more pesto than you need for the pizza, so use the extra sauce on sandwiches, pasta, grilled chicken or vegetables, etc.