I learned to make New York style pizza crusts a few weeks ago. Each batch makes enough dough for 2-3 pizzas. To keep things interesting, I usually make each one differently. This recipe is written to make enough sauce and toppings to make them all the same.
My original plan for a pesto pizza was to make a pesto sauce and to spread it all over the crust as the sauce. As I was researching this idea, I came across Serious Eats pesto pizza. As well as a technique for keeping pesto sauce from turning grey, it included the idea of having the pesto be a topping rather than a sauce. I had about half a bunch of fresh basil on hand, so I had to give this recipe a try.
Note: Daughter Miriam is also having trouble with garlic lately, so I left it out of the sauce.
Karl’s New York Style Pesto Pizza
1 batch of Karl’s New York Style Pizza Crust
6 oz. fresh basil leaves
½ cup parmesan, grated
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 clove garlic, crushed to a paste (omitted)
½ tsp. lemon zest
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
2± Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
½ lb. part-skim milk mozzarella, shredded
12 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small chunks
12 oz. fresh ricotta cheese
1. Un-bag your pizza dough and set it on your floured bread board to come to room temperature.
Tip: I store my dough in quart sized plastic bags to ferment for 3-5 days. To keep from mashing my dough I cut up the sides of the bag to free the dough intact.
Note: For directions on making the pizza dough see Karl’s New York Style Pizza Crust.
2. Set up your oven to your desired configuration and preheat it to 500º F.
3. Blanch the basil for 2 minutes in a pot of boiling water.
Tip: Blanching turns the basil bright green and prevents it from oxidizing later to an unappealing grey color.
4. Shock the basil in ice water.
Tip: This keeps the basil from over cooking.
5. Squeeze as much liquid out of the basil as possible and mince it finely.
6. Place the basil in a small bowl and add the cheese, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper.
7. Toast the pine nuts and grind them with a mortar and pestle.
8. Add the pine nuts to the bowl grind the ingredients together using the pestle.
Tip: You do not want the basil to be completely broken down into a paste, some coarse bits of leaves should still be showing.
Note: Do not use a standing blender for this process. If your sauce is thin enough to blend easily it will have too much oil for this use.
9. Slowly add just enough olive oil to make a very thick paste, stirring frequently.
Tip: If you add too much oil it will separate out and pool on top of your pizza. You want to add just enough oil to hold the sauce together.
10. Shape your dough into a pizza shapes and transfer them to a flour dusted peels.
Tip: I use three cookie sheets, and an old flat steel sheet to remove the pizzas from the oven
11. Scatter one third of the grated mozzarella over each pizza.
12. Scatter the pieces of fresh mozzarella and dollops of ricotta evenly over the pizzas.
13. Spoon dollops of the pesto decoratively over the pizza.
14. Bake each pizza for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is browned on the bottom.
Tip: Rotate the pizza halfway through the cooking time to get an even bake.
15. Transfer the pizza to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes before consuming.