Sunday, February 19, 2012

Pesto, Pizza, and Scientific Proof

Weekends require pizza.  No, really.  Scientific studies by people with lots of letters after their names, white lab coats, and smug, condescending attitudes have proven it.*

97% of statistics are made up and 84% of readers won't remember the number cited at the beginning of a statistic.*

*I just totally made that up.

Anyway, despite lack of scientific proof, my absolute favorite is mozzarella, tomato, basil, and pesto pizza.  

84% better weekend, guaranteed.*
There are two ((well, way more than two, but let's just talk about two)) ways to do this.  The quick way and the less quick way which really only have one difference:  the pesto ((aka the stuff I would bathe in if I could make enough of it.))

Making your own pesto is not hard, and it is so, so worth it.  Here's what you need:

-2 cups packed, fresh basil leaves
-1/4 cup toasted pine nuts ((you can buy them toasted or put raw pine nuts in the oven on a cookie sheet for a little bit or do them in a saute pan with a little bit of olive oil))
-1 garlic clove
-1/2 tsp of salt, plus one pinch
-1/4 tsp of fresh-cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

What you do:

Put everything BUT the olive oil and the Parmesan in a blender or food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped.  This will be a process because you basically want it very, very small, so there will be a lot of scraping of the sides.  It's all right.  Hang on.  You can do it.

With the machine running in spurts, slowly add a little bit of olive oil at a time until it reaches the consistency that you want.  Transfer the pesto to a bowl and mix in the Parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and be careful not to eat the entire bowl in the name of taste-testing.

Now the purists will be saying, "You can't use a food processor, you should use a mortar and pestle, you idiot" ((which I accidentally spelled as "pistol," Dr. Freud.))  But most people won't take the time for that, and hell, most people won't take the time of this way ((we're going to the "jar version" in a second.))  But if you want to be authentic, go for it.  This one from Le Creuset looks pretty and would be fun the one time you ever use it until it hides on a top shelf in your kitchen, untouched, for years.

Now for the pizza.  You can use whatever you like, but I like to keep it simple.  All you need for two servings is:

-One of piece of Naan ((Target has a good one made by Archer Farms.  Trader Joe's also have good ones.))
-1/4 cup of pesto ((if you can't bring yourself to make your own, Progresso's is quite good, I'm not a fan of Trader Joe's for some reason))
-1-2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts
-4 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese
-One fresh tomato
-Red pepper flakes
-Mediterranean Oregano flakes
-More of the fresh basil
-A little bit of the fresh Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 ((or check the package.))  Spray a pizza pan ((preferably the kind with holes on the bottom)) with olive oil cooking spray ((or you can put it directly on the rack.))  Throw the Naan on there and using a knife, add a thin layer of the pesto.  Less really is more here, don't overdo it.  Sprinkle on your pine nuts and then add thin slices of tomato.  Layer relatively thin slices of the mozzarella on top, leaving some gaps.  Sprinkle the top with the red pepper and oregano and pop it in the oven for about 8 minutes.  I like to do the final minute under the broiler to make it nice and golden and bubbly.

Once you remove it from the oven, add some fresh, finely chopped basil and maybe a little more Parmesan.

100% goodness
Nutritional Info:  Ah, who cares?  Calories don't count on the weekend.  But, half would be around 350 depending on how much cheese you use.

No comments:

Post a Comment