|Grilled Asparagus Pineapple and Chicken Pizza|
This pizza was inspired by the Primary Colors pizza at a local restaurant, Pi, on King's Road here in St. John's. Good thin crust pizza is hard, if not impossible to come by in this neck of the woods and these guys are the best of what's available here. This pizza uses a pesto sauce instead of a tomato based sauce. You can use a good quality bottled sauce if you like but I've included a good standard pesto recipe which can be frozen in small batches in airtight containers for later use in other dishes. Good pesto is all about the best quality ingredients, so use the best olive oil and parmesan cheese that you can find.(or as Martha would say, "The best you can afford.")
I always cook pizza on a very hot stone in a 450 degree oven which has been well preheated for at least a half hour. You will have to experiment with the height of your oven rack so that the pizza is close enough to the top element to brown the top of the pizza properly; for me middle of the oven works best. An investment in a good pizza stone and wooden peel is one which will pay off greatly in the long run. We've often had make-your-own pizza kids birthday parties and even adult gatherings where the guests did the same and enjoyed it as much or more than the kids.
1/4 cup toasted walnuts1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
10 cloves garlic
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good quality olive oil
1 cup freshly grated good quality parmesan cheese
In a food processor pulse together the walnuts, pine nuts and garlic to break them up. Add the basil leaves, salt and pepper and pulse the food processor until the basil leaves are well broken down. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil until the basil and nuts are very well pureed. Finally add the grated parmesan cheese and process foe only another minute. Freeze leftover pesto in small airtight containers with a layer of plastic wrap placed over the surface to protect it from discoloring.
MAKES ENOUGH FOR 6 -8 INDIVIDUAL PIZZAS
3-4 cups all purpose flour
1 packet instant yeast
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ¼ cups lukewarm water
½ tsp sea salt
Mix dry ingredients together except for one cup of the flour. Add the warm water and mix very well with a wooden spoon for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining flour a little at a time until dough forms. Remove to a floured breadboard or your counter top and knead for an additional 5 minutes. Allow dough to rest for ½ hour, covered in a warm place. Knead again for 5 minutes and split dough into portions and allow to rest for 20 minutes before rolling your dough into the desired size.
Preheat your pizza stone in middle rack of your oven for half an hour at 450 degrees F.
Stretch or roll your pizza dough into 8-9 inch rounds and place one on a wooden peel that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. The cornmeal will allow the pizza to slide off the peel (I’ve even used a thin piece of cardboard in a pinch if you do not have a peel.) Make sure your pizza is sliding on the cornmeal base before adding your toppings.
Grilled chicken slices
Grilled red peppers
Sauteed red onion
Crisp cooked bacon
Mix of mozzarella and parmesan cheese
Shake your peel to make sure the pizza is not stuck. Slide the pizza onto the hot stone, shaking it slightly in a back and forth motion as you slowly retract the wooden peel.
Bake for 8-12 minutes depending upon your oven. Bottom and top should be nicely browned.