Friday, November 13, 2009

ricotta and pesto pizza

I am a big advocate for pizza at dinner parties, especially when it's homemade. If you make the dough ahead of time, dinner can be ready in less than a half-hour, and there's nothing quite as impressive as placing a steaming, fresh-from-the-oven pie in the center of the dinner table. Forget fancy centerpieces—all you need is pizza.

I make pizza almost every week for dinner so I change up the toppings a lot to keep it from getting boring. I use sausage and peppers; mushrooms with garlic and parsley; or, recently, store-bought harissa with gruyere and herb salad. That was really, really, good.

But my new favorite is a lighter, healthier take on white pizza: a thin crust topped with a layer of ricotta, a drizzle of pesto and a little red pepper flakes and parmesan. It sounds incredibly simple, and it is, but it's way more than the sum of its parts. The creamy ricotta is the perfect counterpart for the bright, garlic-y pesto, and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes adds just the right amount of heat.

For a dinner party, I'd serve the pizza with an arugula salad and something decadent for dessert—maybe gelato topped with homemade chocolate sauce or a shot of hot espresso? You could also just eat the pizza by itself off of paper plates in front of the TV and find it just as satisfying.

Ricotta and pesto pizza
Dough recipe adapted from Louise Pickford's book Grilling.
(Serves 2 to 4 people)

For the pizza dough:
1 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup hot water
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Sift the flour into a large bowl and stir in the yeast and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour, then add the hot water and olive oil. Stir with a spoon until it has formed a soft dough. Knead the dough with floured hands, pressing it against the bowl until it is smooth and elastic. Shape it into a ball and cover the bowl with a dish towel. Let it rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour, or until it has doubled in size. (You can also make it the night before and store it in the fridge, wrapped in plastic or stored in a large plastic Ziploc bag.)

For the pizza topping:
1 cup whole-milk ricotta
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

(Makes about 2 cups)
3 handfuls of basil leaves (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper, to taste

In a food processor, combine the garlic, pine nuts, and basil. Pulse until slightly pureed. Pour in the olive oil gradually, pulsing with each addition until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice, parmesan, and salt. Taste as you go, making sure it's balanced. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator.

To assemble the pizza:

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Use your hands or a rolling pin to roll out the pizza on a floured surface so that it's about 1/2 inch thin. Place the rolled-out dough on a pizza stone or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a large spoon, spread the ricotta evenly over the pizza dough. Top with the pesto, then drizzle the 2 Tbsp. of olive oil on top. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pizza is golden brown and bubbling. Sprinkle with parmesan and serve hot.


Nicole @ Sprinkle with Salt said...

that looks great! I love homemade pizza.

Good. Food. Stories. said...

I've got my new standmixer and plan on spending my Saturday making pizza dough. Thanks!

Lisa said...

Nicole: Thanks! Me too.

Good.Food.Stories: Sounds like a nice way to spend a Saturday. Excited to see what you make.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever eaten a pizza with truffles?
What about those mushrooms that Dan likes?

Lisa said...

Anony: 1: Yep! 2: Hen of the Woods mushrooms? I think we've had those on a pizza somewhere before. Definitely in pasta.

Unknown said...

Crusts are so much better when homemade. Great looking pizza.

budji said...

HI Lisa,
I love your site! I tried the chicken liver pate you posted some months back. It was such a hit that I started getting orders. I am producing it to sell this Christmas and hopefully it will be a full-blown business by next year. I am also experimenting other types of pates also.
I am a product designer but I am enjoying the creative part of making edible stuff. I am a foodie too.
Thanks a lot for selflessly sharing your wonderful recipes, experiences and tips.
Much love from Manila, Philippines,
Budji T.

Lisa said...

Tender Branson: Thank you! I totally agree. Although Whole Foods makes a pretty good dough if you're in a pinch.

Budji: Wow! That is amazing. If you ever start shipping to the U.S. send me a jar!

Daniel said...

Lisa, ask Budji if your face can be on the package! You could be like the Marie Calendar or Betty Crocker of pate in the Philippines!

Anonymous said...

Thank for this recipe, which sounds wonderful. I'm wondering if I'm missing something in making the dough. I've always dissolved my active dry yeast in warm water before adding the flour/oil. I tried it as you've indicated--mixing the flour, yeast and salt, then adding hot water and oil--and upon mixing the whole thing turned into a bowl of crumbled dough. basically it didn't mix much at all. I'm just wondering if there's something missing or if I've done something wrong. king regards.

Lisa said...

Hi, sorry for not responding sooner. It seems like you may need to add a little extra water. Flours can vary, and for a recipe like this, I keep a little extra water on hand. Be careful not to add too much, though!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin