Where once I was content eating the standard meat laden, thick crusted pies found in most pizza joints, I find now I would rather make my own using flavours and ingredients I like - and one of my favourite pizzas is a recipe I came up with a few years ago for Pizza with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Prawns.
For printable recipe click HERE
Homemade pizza, like anything else that comes from your own hands and your own oven, is good in ways that can't be compared to food that is store bought.
I love the artisan quality of this pizza, the crispness of the crust, and the incredible bursts of flavour with every bite.
I also love the relaxation I feel preparing it.
In the spirit of good things take time, there is nothing quite like listening to a little Puccini while putting this together. A glass of red wine, a warm fire burning, and a spirit of calm and comfort while you sift the ingredients and knead the dough.
If you've never made pizza from scratch before, I hope you will consider trying as it truly is one of life's little pleasures that so many miss out on.
My instructions call for a pizza stone, but if you don't have one or can't find one, you can also do this on a pizza pan or cookie sheet.
To get started you will need:
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 tbsp active dry yeast
- 5 cups unbleached white flour
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups warm water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Proof the yeast by sprinkling it over the 1/2 cup of warm water and whisking with a fork. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt and make a well in the centre.
After ten minutes, when the yeast begins to foam...
Pour it into the centre of the of flour and add the two cups of warm water.
Stir the ingredients with a large wooden spoon.
When the dough starts to come together, turn it out onto a floured surface. Generously flour your hands and knead the dough for at least ten minutes or until the dough springs back.
In the bowl that you first mixed the dough in, add the olive oil, coat the sides of the bowl, and turn the dough over in the oil.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place to proof for at least two hours.
Now it's time to make the pesto!!
Will the excitement ever end??
**Cook's note** It is also perfectly acceptable to use your favourite store bought pesto - I like to make my own just for the bragging rights that the pizza is made entirely by scratch.
You will need:
- 3 cups chopped fresh basil
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the basil in a blender. Pour in about 1 tablespoon of the oil (or more if you need to, I use more) and blend basil into a paste. Gradually add pine nuts, salt, Parmesan cheese, garlic, chili powder, and remaining oil. Continue to blend until smooth.
Set aside until later.
Put your pizza stone into the oven and turn the heat to 450. Leave the stone in for at least a half hour before you're ready to begin cooking the pizza.
Now it's time to prepare the shrimp.
I like to make it easy on myself and purchase shrimp that has already been deveined and sometimes even shelled - but regardless of how you get it, make ready about a pound of fresh or frozen uncooked prawns or shrimp for sauteing.
Then cube a quarter cup of butter, snip up some fresh chives, mince a clove of garlic, and juice a whole lemon.
(It was at this point that The Man I Married enquired as to whether I would like to style his lunch for work the next day. Hardy har har, funny guy)
Put everything but the lemon juice into a saute pan at medium high heat, add a little olive oil to keep the butter from burning, add the shrimp, and begin sauteeing.
When the prawns are cooked, hit them with the lemon, some salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
I hate to tell you this, but they tasted every bit as good as they look.
By now your pizza dough should be ready.
If it's doubled in volume, release any angst you might be carrying and punch it down.
Divide it in two and roll each half out to make two pizzas.
Now you're ready to start building.
The toppings: fresh pesto, fresh mozzarella (buffalo if you can find it), feta cheese all crumbled and delicious, fresh grated parmesan, the shrimp, fresh, sweet tomatoes like campari, toasted pine nuts, and basil.
Start with the pesto and spread it over your crust.
Don't worry about the pizza being perfect. Slide it onto your hot pizza stone, or gather it up and transport it (that's what I do) and add the rest of your toppings.
There's no measurement - add as much or as little of each ingredient as you want.
Bake at 450 for about ten to fifteen minutes until your crust is golden brown and the cheese is Gooeylicious.
Remove from oven and enjoy!
Until tomorrow, happy cooking everyone!