Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pizza, two ways

I've been on a homemade pizza kick lately. It's not quite as good as the perfectly charred Italian-style brick-oven pizza you'll find at places like Pizzeria Delphina (in SF) or Pizzeria Bianco (in Phoenix), but it's pretty damn awesome.

Wisconsin cheese-curd pizza with homemade tomato sauce

After making a big batch of pizza dough a while back, I stashed the rest in the freezer. So now, when the craving for bubbly, crispy pizza hits, all I have to do is pop the dough in the fridge and the next day I'm good to go.

Like a few weeks back, when I had bought 2 pounds of cheese curd during my St. Patty's Day trip to Wisconsin. I needed a way to eat through some of that cheese pronto- and figured pizza would be the perfect vehicle. Of course I had no tomato sauce. Or tomato paste. But I had dried herbs, a single tomato, and this:

 Basil-infused olive oil from The Gourmet Grape tastes exactly like fresh basil in olive oil

So I took my lonely tomato, chopped it up, and cooked it (on low heat) in my infused olive oil until it turned to mush, and threw in a sprinkling of Italian herbs and salt/pepper and viola!- homemade tomato "sauce".

The lack of tomato paste gives this sauce a "lighter" taste compared to 
traditional pizza sauce. But it's no less delicious.

 You know what else makes a delicious pizza? Arugula and basil pesto...

Perfect pesto pizza pleasures my pupils.

... especially when you top it with sauteed crimini mushrooms!

Mushrooms with pesto is one of the best pizza flavor combinations

In addition to my pizza dough, the pesto I used on this pizza was also frozen. To store it I used two sheets of Glad Press-n-Seal to form packets with 2 tablespoons of pesto in each blob.

They look like little ravioli! 

Then I just cut them in individual portions and popped them into a freezer bag labeled with the date.

Pronto pesto!

You might notice that my pesto isn't as oily as regular pesto. That's because I used less oil than suggested by the recipe. I never really understood why that much oil is needed in pesto- especially if you're using it on pizza. I'd rather put less oil in my pesto and then add additional oil to my dish if needed. For example, you'd definitely need more olive oil if making pesto pasta. But with the greasiness of cheese, my "lighter" pesto works perfectly on pizza.

So whether you like your pizza with artichoke hearts, onions, BBQ chicken, black olives, tomatoes, eggplant, sausage, green olives, mushrooms, extra cheese, pesto, green peppers, red peppers, chorizo, garlic, spinach, zucchini, fresh basil, cilantro, avocado, anchovies, peperoni, shrimp, blue cheese, bacon or whatever weird-ass ingredient I haven't thought of- with a few key items in the freezer it doesn't take long to whip up some fresh homemade pizza.

Yours in stocking up her freezer for when a massive craving hits,

Arugula and Basil Pesto, adapted from Kitchen Confidante

I love me some arugula. But to be honest, the bitterness of the arugula was almost too much for me in this pesto when I tasted it on its own. Luckily, with bread, cheese, and mushrooms I loved it, but we'll see how it is if I'm just eating it on its own with pasta. Next time I think I'd completely eliminate the arugula, or maybe swap the ratios and use it as an accompaniment to basil instead of the other way around.

Also, I hate pine nuts. Walnuts are usually the alternative to making pesto sans pine nuts, but I didn't have any. So I used hazelnuts instead. (Which I also store in the freezer so they last longer!) I think my pesto came out quite nice- but hazelnuts do have a pretty strong flavor. So use whatever kind of nut you'd like. :)

1 cup basil, packed
2 cups rocket arugula, packed
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts (or hazelnuts)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 garlic clove
1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more for a thinner pesto

Make the pesto by placing the basil, arugula, pine nuts, Parmesan and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse so that it still chunky. With the motor running, add the olive oil. Try to make sure the pesto still has some body and is not thin. Use fresh or store longer-term in the freezer.


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