We had friends over for a pizza party/board game night the other weekend. We like to make our own homemade pizzas where we provide the crusts (maybe one day we will be adventurous and attempt to make our own!), sauce, and cheese and our guests bring whatever toppings they like to create their own pizza. This time, I decided to make fresh pesto using basil from the herb garden. I don’t usually like pesto on my pizza, but I thought I would give it a shot. Boy, am I glad I did!
To make the pesto I used some ideas from my friend I recently had lunch with who makes her own pesto on a regular basis plus ideas from a recipe online (see below for the link to that recipe). The main ingredients for pesto include basil, olive oil, pine nuts, and salt and pepper. However, my friend suggested adding garlic, cheese, and halving the total leaf amount by using spinach – this is especially nice if you don’t have a whole lot of basil and need to supplement.
The steps are very easy to follow, although I wish I had a larger food processor. This one only holds a cup or so of actual ingredients so I had to do everything in portions, pulsing with the processor. I packed one cup of fresh basil and one cup of spinach into a measuring cup – and I mean packed. You can’t go wrong with lots of greens! I minced 3 large cloves of garlic and added about a 1/2 cup of pine nuts. Pine nuts are on the expensive side, but we like to keep some for topping on salads so we had plenty. If you don’t want to splurge on pine nuts, walnuts would work as well – everything gets pulsed so don’t worry about using a larger nut. I pulsed this all together, adding the leaves, pine nuts, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil (3/4 cup) very slowly due to the lack of space in my food processor. I then added a 1/2 cup of Pecorino/Romano grated cheese and pulsed well. Once relatively smooth I tasted it to see how much salt and pepper to add. Add to your liking, I put in more pepper and then I also added a couple tablespoons of lemon juice for some extra zing. Feel free to pulse less if you like your pesto more grainy or pulse more if you like smooth. I did somewhere in between. This probably took a total of 15 minutes, and would have been less but due to the volume I had to work with, everything needed to be done in batches.
Now, onto the fun part – making pizza! Our friends brought everything from vegetables (sweet bell pepper, banana pepper, onion, mushrooms) to spicy hot barbeque chicken. We like to baste a little bit of olive oil on top of the crusts and then add the sauce. We had both regular tomato sauce and the homemade pesto. After adding the sauce, we added cheese (freshly grated mozzarella), and any toppings that you wanted. I only have the “after” photographs of the pizzas because I forgot to take photos as they were being made. Whoops! However, everything was absolutely delicious and everyone got to make their own pizza which is always fun. I would say that the pesto sauce was a hit! I especially enjoyed it and wasn’t sure that I would. Guess I need to have homemade pesto to like it on my pizza 😉 Enjoy!