Walnut Basil Pesto Pizza

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

One of my biggest kitchen struggles has been good pizza crust. I have an old gas oven (love it) but my crusts had time after time come out soggy. I tried a pizza stone but to my despair, it left all crusts limp. All I want is some crispy, browned bottomed crust! Too much to ask? I tried my faithful cookie sheet and I think that was 50% of the crispy battle. This lovely pizza dough recipe comes from the amazing Andrea Bemis’s new cookbook, Dishing Up The Dirt!!! So excited for this girl! Get yourself a copy. It’s a treat for the eyes and the stomach. It makes my heart so happy to see her in her element, getting down and dirty with real food. She’s seriously inspired me to live on a farm. I will have chickens one day or my name isn’t Cuoco!

This crust is super!! Thin and crisp. It’s almost focaccia-like. My favorite part is that you can do it all from the bowl of your stand mixer with the dough hook, so there’s little to no mess. All you need is time! While the dough is rising you can get other tasks done, so don’t worry. Look at you go, you multi-tasker! Own it. Be wonder woman in the kitchen and don’t let anything scare you. Thank you Andrea for this tasty dough recipe!!! Congratulations, lady! #DishingUpTheDirt #DUTD

Yield: A little less than 2 pounds of dough, enough for 2 large thin crusts

For the Dough:

  • 2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water, more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for oiling bowl
  • 1-1/3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

For the Pesto & Cheese topping:

  • 1-1/2 cups packed basil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano
  • 2 sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • fresh mozzarella cheese
  • wild arugula
  1. In a large bowl dissolve the yeast and sugar in water warmed to 110 F. Give it a good stir. Proof for 10 minutes or until frothing.
  2. Mix in the salt, olive oil, and the flours until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment and knead it on low for 6 minutes. If the dough appears too dry, drizzle 2 tablespoons more water.
  3. Rinse out the large bowl, pat it dry, drizzle it with oil, and use a bowl to rub the oil all over the bowl. Return the dough to the large bowl and cover the bowl with a damp cloth. Let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Transfer the dough back to you stand missed and knead it on low for 3 minutes.
  5. Return the dough to the oiled bowl, cover it with the damp towel, and set it aside to rise for an additional hour, or until it has doubled in size again.
  6. Slice the dough in half. Freeze one half for a rainy day! (see note below). Take the half you’re going to use and roll thinly onto a oiled baking sheet.
  7. Add basil, olive oil, walnuts, parmigiana region, tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. Grind until smooth, about 30 seconds. Taste it… devious all on it’s own! Spoon half of the mixture onto the pizza and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 500 F for 10 minutes. Top with wild arugula and serve.

*Be sure to transfer your frozen dough to the refrigerator the morning before you plan to use it. Remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you make your pizza so the dough can come to room temperature.

Dough recipe (Chesua’a Perfect Pizza Dough) is from Andrea Bemis, Dishing Up The Dirt, 2017. Pesto recipe is from Saveur Magazine.

Whipped Basil Feta & Cherry Tomato Toast

TOAST 2

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Oh, how I love summer vegetables! Lately, I don’t even want to think about eating meat. All I can think about are bountiful, beautiful summer vegetables and fruits. All the heirloom, cherry and grape tomatoes. All the basil (a real obsession… good thing it grows like a weed). I’m especially in the mood for light meals for lunch. Open-faced toasts are super popular today. You are familiar with the avocado toast revolution. You’ve seen the avocado rose break the internet. A nice change from all the avo are cherry tomatoes: plump, juicy and full of flavor. I picked up feta at the grocery store today for a salad I’m making later in the week. Looking through my fridge, I decided to, quite literally, whip together the feta with a little Greek yogurt. Seasoned with salt, pepper and a little onion powder. I folded in fresh basil because I simply cannot get enough of it! A rough chop releases all the herb oils, getting all that flavor into the cheese mixture. I like to be heavy on the salt and pepper. Under seasoning is a sin.

Check out your local farmers market and bring along a big basket! I’ll be stocking up on all the summer fruits and vegetables this weekend. Also pick up a big loaf of Ciabatta or Sourdough. Or, try this spread on smaller crostini for a party starter. Don’t worry– the avocado rose won’t mind taking the back seat this time. Go on and get toasty!

TOAST

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Yields: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of Ciabatta or Sourdough bread
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 8 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 10-12 cherry tomatos, sliced
  1. Drizzle olive oil on toast slices. Toast in toaster oven until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip feta and yogurt on medium speed for 2 minutes until fluffy. Season with onion powder, salt and pepper. Whip for an additional 1 minute until incorporated. Fold in chopped basil.
  3. Spread feta mixture evenly on 4 slices of toast. Slice cherry tomatoes and distribute evenly on top of toast. Season with salt and pepper to taste.