Summer Time Pizza

I love summer pizza when sun ripe herbs and vegetables are at their peak.  Here is a sublime version we recently devoured that is crowned with a glorious tomato-basil salad.

Basil, oh Basil!

 As I pulled the pizza from the oven, the heady aroma of garlic, basil, and cheese was almost too much to bear. Fortunately there is little down time since the last minute topping of the flavorful lemony-dressed arugula salad is ready and waiting.   

We were so into enjoying the pizza that we did not even spare the time to snap a photo of this beauty. Trust me, it is both beautiful and delicious.

The fact is, this yummy pizza is all about the pesto, and amazingly, it seems I have previously failed to provide a recipe for it. 

So, if pesto making is on your horizon,  now is the time to find a good supply of fresh basil, pull out the blender or food processor, and give this one a whirl. The pine nuts are not essential, but they greatly enhance the pesto and provide the mysterious smoky ingredient that binds the texture and flavors of the olive oil, basil, garlic and Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

Summer Pizza topped with Tomato-Basil Salad

·         1 Pizza Crust, prebaked
·         1/3 cup fresh pesto (see below)
·         2 roasted red peppers, skinned and seeded, cut into strips
·         ½ large sweet onion, such as Walla Walla, peeled and cut into strips
·         1 cup grated melting cheese such as mozzarella or Muenster, divided
·         2 oz. dry Coppa or prosciutto ham, cut into strips
·         1/3 cup Parmesan cheese grated
·         1 ½  cups sliced baby tomatoes
·         18 or more arugula or romaine leaves cut into thin strips (about 3 cups)
·         1/3 cup fresh basil, julienned
·         juice of ½ lemon (about 2 Tbsps.)
·         1 clove garlic, crushed
·         ½ tsp. Dijon mustard
·         ¼ tsp. salt and pepper, each
·         2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese, divided
·         1/3 cup olive oil
For the Pizza:
1.       Spread the crust with a thin film of of pesto.
2.       Cover the pesto with a  layer of onions, then the red pepper.  Sprinkle the vegetables with half of the mozzarella or Muenster.
3.       Top the cheese with a layer of Coppa strips, then the remaining cheese, and finally the Parmesan.
4.       Bake in 425 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until cheese begins to bubble and brown.
Allow to cool slightly before cutting.
For the Salad and Dressing:
1.       For dressing, in a small jar combine the lemon juice through 1 Tbsp. Parmesan.  Add the olive oil and shake until thick.  The dressing can be made ahead. 
2.       Shortly before serving, place tomatoes, lettuce and basil in a bowl.
To assemble pizza, toss the salad with the dressing until well coated.
Spread the pizza with tomato-arugula salad or drape individual pizza slices with a spoonful of the salad. Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese and serve. Serves 2, or more, maybe.

Pinoli Pesto  

·         2 heaping cups basil leaves, stems removed; washed and dried
·         2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
·         ½  tsp. salt
·         ¼  tsp. black pepper or red pepper flakes
·         1/3  cup pine nuts, toasted
·         1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
·         2/3 cup olive oil
Place all except olive oil in container of blender.  Slowly add the olive oil and blend until all leaves are incorporated and pesto is thick, with a slight grainy consistency.  Yield:  1 cup.  Store in refrigerator. 

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