If you like pizza (well, who doesn’t!) and love cooking (baking) at home, this pesto pizza ticks all the boxes! Check out this recipe and make the pizza crust from scratch. Also, read about the delicious, easy-to-make pesto sauce. It’s all goodness waiting to be baked!
If you compile a catalog of foods that are recognised globally, pizza is going to feature at the top of this list! I have been thinking about making a pizza from scratch for quite sometime. Here we go!
A traditional pesto sauce recipe calls for pine nuts, parmesan and pecorino cheese, basil leaves, garlic and olive oil. I have to admit that I have deviated from the classic ingredients. I have replaced some of these ingredients with local produce that was available to me. So this recipe uses cashew nuts instead of the pine nuts, and soft mozzarella cheese instead of the hard parmesan. But that shouldn’t stop you from reading further. This pizza is delish! It tastes as good as how it looks in these pictures!
This recipe is super easy! Prepping the dough is not going to take more than 15 minutes. Baking is a maximum of 12 minutes. The only time-consuming step is the waiting for the dough to rise. But on the positive side, there is nothing that you have to do other than to just let it happen!
Here is what we have to do to make these amazing pesto pizzas at home.
Step 1. Activate yeast
Step 2. Make dough and let it rise (proofing)
Step 3. Make the pesto sauce
Step 4. Flatten the dough to the desired shape
Step 5. Spread the sauce, add the toppings, and bake!
Pesto Pizza Sauce
Please note that I am making the pesto sauce a little coarse. In a blender or food processor blitz together roasted cashew nuts, garlic, and basil leaves just enough for the ingredients to be coarsely ground. If you prefer you could grind more and make it fine. I wanted to keep it a bit rustic. Also, those small cashew nut pieces will give an extra crunch to the texture.
Instead of blitzing with cheese and olive oil, we’ll transfer the basil-garlic-cashew nut mix to a bowl. We’ll then add the grated cheese, followed by the olive oil. Mix well and add salt for seasoning.
I have realised that when you have a fantastic sauce, you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make your pizza tasty. So this time I am not adding any meat or strongly flavoured ingredients. Instead, we’ll use only a few simple ones to elevate the flavour and texture – sliced capsicum (bell peppers), cherry tomatoes, and more cheese! That’s about it.
Now go ahead, read through the detailed recipe with pictures. Let me know how it turns out (only one answer for it – deliciousss).
Heat 1/2 cup water while stirring in 3 teaspoons of sugar.
Let it cool down to a lukewarm temperature. If the water is too hot, it'll kill the yeast. If it's cold, they won't get activated.
Add a little more than 1/2 teaspoon yeast to the lukewarm water and stir to mix well. Keep it covered in a warm place.
The yeast will get activated in about 10 minutes. When you see froth on the top you'll know that our yeast is ready to use.
Preparing the dough
Add flour, milk, salt, and oil in a mixing bowl. Mix with a spoon while slowly adding the yeast mixture a little at a time. You wouldn't need all the yeast mixture we prepared. Add enough (I used a little more than half of it) to bring together the dough.
Now use your hands to knead the dough. Knead well until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball. Take it out, brush the bowl with oil, and put the dough back.
Cover with a damp cloth, and set aside in a warm place for the dough to rise. Now, this is a bit tricky step to mention the required time.
Wait for the dough to double in size. It was a rather cold morning, and it took almost 90 minutes for me. On another day 30 minutes would have just done the trick!
While we wait for the dough to rise, we can get our pesto sauce ready. Lightly roast the cashew nuts on a medium flame. Switch off once they start turning brown.
Transfer the basil leaves, chopped garlic, and cashew nuts to a food processor or a blender.
Pulse to a coarse consistency. If you want a smoother pesto sauce, you could blitz more. I wanted to keep it rustic.
Empty the basil mixture into a mixing bowl, add the grated cheese and olive oil.
Mix well. Add salt and squeeze in the half a lime (without pips), and stir well again.
Once the dough is doubled in size, we can start working on the pizza crust.
The dough we have made can be used to make two pizzas. Divide the dough into halves. If you want to make only one pizza now, shape one half to a ball and store it in the freezer.
Dust a dry flat surface with some flour. Take a halved dough, roll it into a cylindrical shape, and flatten it with your palm and fingers to a consistent thickness. You could make it circular. Here is have gone with an oval shape.
Now brush the baking stone or tray with some oil. Dust with some flour. This is a MUST do. Otherwise, your pizza will refuse to come off from the tray.
Place the pizza base/crust on the prepared baking tray. Brush with butter. This is done so that the crust won't get soggy with the sauce and the toppings.
Evenly spread half of our pesto sauce on the buttered crust.
Slice the cherry tomatoes. Place half of them along with the capsicum slices on the pizza distributing them evenly across.
Place some cheese pieces into the free spaces to complete the toppings. Using a fork prick several holes in the crust to prevent bubbling. Lift the sides a little so that it'll be easy to remove the pizza once after baking.
Preheat the oven to 220-degree Celsius.
Bake the pizza on the middle rack for 10 minutes. Take the tray out and place it on the top rack for another couple of minutes to get the sides extra crispy (this is optional).
Remove from the oven. Grate some more cheese on top. Season with salt, cut into slices and serve hot.
Note: The pesto sauce we made in this recipe is perfect for two pizzas. You could make the pizzas one after another. Or store half the dough in the freezer for using later. Pesto sauce can be stored chilled in the refrigerator.