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August 10, 2010

Pesto Pizza with Ricotta, Salami and Artichoke Hearts

I clearly have some sort of pizza addiction. Last night I decided to switch it up and go with pesto instead of the traditional sauce. The crust decided to blow up on me, but I think that's because I was a little impatient and didn't work the dough properly. It didn't phase me- it was still a pretty great pizza.

I highly recommend (demand) that you make your own pesto. The flavor is so much more intense and fresh. You can also control the amount of oil, which is key. If you have too much oil in your pesto, it will gather in the center of the pie and make it soggy. Soggy = bad pizza. I also recommend (demand) that you buy quality ingredients. There is no point to going through the effort of pizza making if you're going to just throw any old flavorless garbage on top. That's what certain unnamed chain delivery services are for. For this, I used hand rolled ricotta that I found at Whole Foods. It had a relatively low moisture content (again, for the anti-soggy factor) and it was so light and fluffy, yet still rich and creamy. You could eat it with a spoon, and I did.

1 Pizza Dough- Recipe here or buy a good quality ball of dough from an Italian store or Balducci's
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2-3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesano Reggiano cheese
5-6 slices good quality salami (I don't recommend genoa, the flavor is quite strong)
1/4 cup good quality ricotta
1/4 cup freshly grated mozzarella
1/2 can drained artichoke hearts
All purpose flour

Special Equipment:
Pizza stone
Cuisinart mixer or blender
Pizza paddle

If making dough from scratch, prepare per instructions. Preheat the oven with the stone inside to 550 degrees (or as high as your oven will go). Allow it to heat at this temperature for at least 30 minutes to give the stone time to come to temperature.

Make the Pesto: In the mixer, combine the basil leaves, garlic, olive oil, kosher salt and cheese until mixed into a paste. If it is too dry, drizzle a little more olive oil, but remember- you don't want it too oily for the pizza. It should be a thick paste.

Sprinkle some flour on the pizza paddle. Stretch the dough out and form into pizza shape on the paddle, getting as thin as possible without tearing. (See video below for stretching method.) Spread the pesto evenly over the dough. Top with the shredded mozzarella then add the salami and artichoke hearts. Using a spoon, drop mounds of the fresh ricotta on top in different areas of the pizza. (Don't try to spread it, you will make a mess. It's more rustic this way anyways.) Carefully slide the pizza off the paddle onto the pizza stone in the oven and bake about 8 minutes or until the crust startst to brown and the cheeses bubble. Remove from the oven and allow to rest on the paddle for at least 5 minutes before serving. For a little finishing touch, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the top and grate some fresh black pepper.

Stretching Pizza Dough:


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