Monday, July 8, 2013

Basil-Walnut Pesto and a Quick Crust Pizza with Feta & Olives

Pin It
I am slowly getting my groove back. :)

It has been a tiring but fun week. I've been cooking a lot, baking some and I have a few recipes to share with you in the coming weeks. I am still aiming for a post a week and hopefully, I will be able to fulfill that.

My posts are going to be quite a mix of desserts and non-dessert dishes for a while. This is because I don't bake the sweet treats as much these days - lack of time being the main reason.

This is a simple recipe but sometimes, simple just blows your socks off, doesn't it?
This pizza is so easy to fix and tastes as good as any pizza from any fancy Italian place. I kid you not! You could easily make this with a store bought pesto, but I will share a simple recipe for a basil-walnut pesto at the end of this post, too. The work involved in making the dough takes about 15 minutes. 

This recipe makes 2 large thin-crust pizzas.
Thin Crust Pesto Pizza with Olives and Feta
Ingredients - Quick Crust
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 cup room-temperature water
3-4 tbsp olive oil

1/2 - 3/4 cup pesto
Feta Cheese
Sliced Black Olives
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

(Any other toppings you want, really, but these work really well together! I added sliced ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, and some sausage too.)

1. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and warm water and mix briefly.
2. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir to combine. Set aside till the mixture is frothy.
3. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and add in the yeast mixture and the remaining quarter cup of water. Add more water as needed - you want a soft, pliable dough. Bring the dough together and knead well until the dough is smooth and elastic. This takes about 10 minutes.
4. Knead in the olive oil and roll the dough into a smooth ball. Place in a oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel or with clingfilm and set aside in a warm place for 10-30 minutes while you get the toppings together.
5. Punch down the dough and divide into two portions.
6. Form the pizza by stretching into a circle about 10-12 inches in diameter. We like our crusts really thin, and I find I get best results by rolling it out using a rolling pin.
7. Over the pizza, spread as much (or as little) pesto sauce as you like. Cover it with a light sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan.
8. Sprinkle generously with crumbled feta cheese and sliced black olives. Add any other toppings want!
9. Finish off with a few strategically placed slices of  Mozzarella and a generous drizzle of extra-virgin Olive oil.
10. Bake until the base is golden and crisp on the bottom and starting to brown around the edges around the edges and the cheese is melted. If the crust gets too brown, the pizza will be too crisp.
11. If desired, season with some sea salt and serve hot!
I loved this pizza! No leftovers. So good!

And here's my simple recipe for pesto. This is the one I've been using for years and I haven't had a reason to want to change it. I like to blanch my basil leaves before they go into the blender. Blanching the leaves keeps the pesto bright green and stops it turning brown. It is an extra step that only takes a few minutes. It is optional, but I would recommend it.
Basil-Walnut Pesto
3 cups (tightly packed) fresh basil leaves
1 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 tsp salt
2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 cup (or more) extra-virgin olive oil 
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
A squeeze of lemon juice

1. Bring a small pan of water to a rolling boil. While it comes to the boil, ready a bowl of iced water, and add a few ice-cubes to keep it really cold.
2. Pack the basil leaves into a wide sieve. Plunge sieve into the boiling water and keep it submerged for 10 seconds. Pull them out and plunge into the ice cold water.
3. Drain the leaves well and squeeze out all the excess water. 
4. Add the blanched basil, 1/3 cup of the olive oil, walnuts, salt and garlic into a blender and blitz for a couple of minutes until smooth and creamy. 
5. Add the Parmesan and a little more olive oil and blitz for a about 30 seconds more. 
6. Check and adjust seasoning, add a squeeze of lemon juice. Add more olive oil, if desired. 
7. Use fresh or store in an airtight jar for a couple of weeks if refrigerated. Pesto freezes really well too!

I really don't need to sell pesto to you. Anyone who has had a good pesto will agree on its awesomeness. It has so many uses - pizzas, sandwich fillings, dips, breads, pastas, risottos, in main courses... I could go on! This pesto recipe will serve you well! :)

Until next time!
Pin It
Real Time Web Analytics