I’ve been testing pizza recipes for the cookbook and the blog this week, which has put my low carb diet in serious jeopardy. Suffice it to say, carbs beget carbs (beget more carbs) and craving pizza for breakfast is never a good sign. At any rate, for this particular pizza, I wanted bold pesto flavor. I didn’t want it to taste just faintly of basil, garlic, Parmesan and olive oil—I wanted those flavors to bowl me over. The key was to spread a generous layer of pesto over the pizzas before baking, and then top them with more pesto and fresh basil when they came out of the oven. Not only do they taste very “pesto-y,” they also look gorgeous and feel a little more virtuous than your typical pizza pie (although definitely not so virtuous with your morning coffee 😉).
Begin by making the dough. In a mixer fitted with the dough hook (or a large bowl if you’d like to make it by hand), combine the flour, yeast, salt, olive oil and water.
Mix until the dough comes together.
Increase the speed and knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled large bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
When the dough has risen, punch it down and place it on a lightly floured surface.
Cut it in half and roll each part into a ball.
Cover the dough balls with a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes — the dough will rise a bit.
Meanwhile, set an oven rack in the bottom position and preheat the oven to 500°F. Sprinkle the cornmeal on a standard 18×13-inch baking sheet, and set aside. Then, cut the tomatoes crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain the juices.
Lightly dust a work surface with flour, and then pat and stretch the rested dough into two 12×8-inch rectangles. If the dough is sticky, dust it lightly with flour.
Place the two pizza doughs side-by-side on the prepared baking sheet. Then press the dough out again so that it almost touches the edges of the pan.
Spread 1/3 cup of the pesto evenly over the pizzas, leaving a 1-inch border. You can make your own or use a good quality store-bought pesto (I like Mama’s Pesto from Whole Foods).
Bake the pizzas on the bottom rack for 4 minutes. (I do this so the crust has time to crisp up; if you add the cheese from the get-go, it gets too brown.)
Remove the pan from the oven; and then top the pizzas with the mozzarella cheese, followed by the tomato slices, Parmigiano-Reggiano, salt and pepper.
Place the pizzas back in the oven and bake until the crust is crisp and golden, 6 to 8 minutes more. Top with fresh torn basil and drizzle with remaining pesto.
Transfer the pizzas to a cutting board, then cut into slices and serve immediately. Enjoy!
My Recipe Videos
Pizza with Pesto, Fresh Tomatoes & Mozzarella
For the Pizza Dough
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2-1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant or quick-rising yeast
- 1-3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 teaspoons cornmeal, for dusting the pan
For the Topping
- 1/2 cup good quality store-bought or homemade pesto, divided
- 8 ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese (not Buffalo mozzarella), thinly sliced or grated
- 2 vine-ripened tomatoes
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup gently packed fresh basil leaves, torn
- Combine the flour, olive oil, yeast, salt and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- When the dough has risen, punch it down and place it on a lightly floured surface. Cut in half and roll each part into a ball. Cover the dough balls with a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes (the dough will rise a bit).
- Meanwhile, set an oven rack in the bottom position and preheat the oven to 500°F. Sprinkle the cornmeal on an 18x13-inch baking sheet; set aside. Cut the tomatoes crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain the juices.
- Lightly dust a work surface with flour, and then press and stretch the rested dough into two 12x8-inch rectangles. If the dough is sticky, dust it lightly with flour. Place the two pizza doughs side-by-side on the cornmeal-dusted baking sheet. Press the dough out again so that it almost touches the edges of the pan.
- Spread 1/3 cup of the pesto evenly over the pizzas (2-1/2 tablespoons each), leaving a 1-inch border. Bake on the bottom rack for 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven; and then top the pizzas with the mozzarella cheese, followed by the tomato slices and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Season each pizza with an 1/8-teaspoon salt and a few grinds fresh black pepper. Place the pizzas back in the oven and bake until the crust is crisp and golden, 6 to 8 minutes more. Transfer the pizzas to a cutting board. Drizzle the remaining pesto over the pizzas and sprinkle with the fresh basil. Cut into slices and serve immediately.
- Make Ahead: Once the dough has completed it's initial rise, and you've cut it in half to form two balls, lightly coat each dough ball with olive oil. Place the dough ball(s) into a freezer bag and seal shut, squeezing out all the air. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 days. When ready to use, let the dough sit out on the countertop for 30 minutes to warm up before stretching.
- Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. When ready to use, defrost in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least 12 hours), and then let it warm up on the countertop for about 30 minutes before stretching.
- Calories: 950
- Fat: 57g
- Saturated fat: 10g
- Carbohydrates: 80g
- Sugar: 3g
- Fiber: 6g
- Protein: 32g
- Sodium: 1663mg
- Cholesterol: 60mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.