Homemade basil pesto is the optimal summer condiment. Spread it on sandwiches, stir it in pasta, or, as in today's recipe, spread it on pizza. Pesto Pizza With Heirloom Tomatoes can be a light dinner, summer lunch, or a perfect appetizer for company.
The base is a classic pesto, and it is so easy to make at home. With this recipe the pine nuts can be raw or lightly toasted. Other raw or toasted nuts, such as walnuts, pistachios, and pecans, also can be used.
I make pesto in various degrees of thickness, depending on how I plan to use it. The consistency here is good for pizza, or as an addition to pasta sauces and soups, and gives an intense basil flavor.
I usually freeze pesto in small batches. Snack cup-size plastic containers are good for this. Cover the inside of each container with a light film of oil before filling. Alternately, pesto can be frozen in ice cube trays lightly sprayed with cooking oil. When frozen, pop out the pesto cubes, store in freezer-weight bags or containers, and defrost before using.
Contact Alicia Ross at Kitchen Scoop, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or send email to@tellus kitchenscoop.com. Visit the Kitchen Scoop Web site at www.kitchenscoop.com.
Start to finish: less than 20 minutes
1 package personal-size prepared pizza crusts (10 ounces, 2 crusts), such as Boboli
1/2 cup Classic Basil Pesto (recipe follows)
2 ounces fresh part-skim mozzarella cheese
6-8 heirloom cherry tomatoes (see Notes)
1 tablespoon shaved parmesan cheese
Place crusts on an ungreased cookie sheet. Stir pesto to mix in any oil that may have separated. Spread pesto evenly over crusts. (It will be a very thin layer.) Cut mozzarella into thin slices or small chunks and place evenly over pizzas.
Rinse tomatoes and cut in half. Layer tomatoes over mozzarella and sprinkle parmesan evenly over tomatoes.
Bake according to pizza crust package directions, until cheese is melted and crust reaches desired crispness. Cut into wedges and serve.
Notes: Commercially prepared pesto can be used. Regular cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes can be used. Preheat oven to temperature specified on crust package directions.
Yield: 2 personal-size pizzas
Approximate values per pizza: 563 calories (52 percent from fat), 33 g fat (8 g saturated), 21 mg cholesterol, 17 g protein, 50 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, 720 mg sodium.
Start to finish: 20 minutes
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
2-3 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup best-quality grated Parmesan cheese
⅓ cup plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste, divided
Dash of salt, to taste
Rinse basil well. Remove stems and place leaves in a salad spinner. Dry well, and set aside. (Alternately, dry the leaves with paper towels.) Peel garlic cloves and drop through the feed tube of a food processor (or blender) onto a moving blade to finely chop.
Add basil leaves and pine nuts to processor bowl, and pulse motor just until coarsely chopped. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add cheese to bowl. With motor running, slowly pour ⅓ cup oil through processor feed tube and process until oil is incorporated and pesto has consistency of cooked oatmeal. Scrape down sides of bowl. Taste pesto and season with salt to taste. Add more oil (as before) until desired consistency is reached.
Scrape pesto into a freezer-safe plastic storage container. Drizzle remaining teaspoon of oil on top and swirl to coat. (Use a bit more if necessary, depending on the size and shape of your container.)
Pesto can be refrigerated up to 1 week or frozen up to 6 months. The top of the pesto will turn dark when stored. This is OK. Stir well before using. (To thaw, let container stand at room temperature about 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.)
Yield: About 1 cup
Approximate values per tablespoon: 90 calories (90 percent from fat), 9 g fat (1 g saturated), 1.5 mg cholesterol, 1.5 g protein, 1 g carbohydrates, trace amount dietary fiber, 54 mg sodium.