Ah, pizza. It’s a comfort food extraordinaire for me. I grew up eating New York Style pizza- big slices that you are required by law to fold in half and eat while streams of orange oil drip down your hands. After 18 years of being down South, I still crave boardwalk pizza from Mack & Manco’s in Ocean City, NJ or from Riv– our regular spot in my hometown. Most pizza joints down here just don’t quite get it right. Though I do love me some Avondale Pizza Cafe, which has been around since 1988, and hits the mark pretty close. Personally, I like to take matters into my own hands and make pizza at home.
You can often find pizza at the end of our weekly menu, acting as sort of a “clean-up” meal. I am comfortable putting just about any leftover ingredient on a pizza, and I seriously heart a meal that helps me clear out my fridge and make room for new groceries. Have you ever tried barbecue pork on your pizza with apples? It totally works.
There are so many options with pizza. You can grill your dough on one side, flip it for a minute, then top it with anything you like and finish it on the grill. Or, you can cook it in the oven at a super high temperature. You can make it rectangular,
round, or oblong…You can make your own dough,
or buy dough from your local grocery store, or from a friendly pizza restaurant, like Mojo’s.
You can make a pizza without sauce, just using olive oil and garlic,
especially if you have really yummy tomatoes. You can opt for a traditional red sauce, or even a pesto.
Today, I share with you a twist on that- peasto pizza. What’s peasto? It’s just a traditional pesto sauce with sweet peas added to the mix. I saw Rachael Ray do a peasto sauce one day, a brilliant idea, and I quickly decided to make one of my own.
These photos are from a double batch, but typically, I start with 1/4 Cup of toasted pine nuts and 2 Cups of fresh basil leaves.
To that, I add a pinch of red pepper flakes, the juice of a lemon, a couple cloves of garlic and begin to pulse it all together.
To my regular recipe, I added one Cup of defrosted peas, salt and pepper.
Then, I stream in Olive Oil and continue to whir until the sauce is loose.
In the end, I add about 1/2 Cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese and just pulse it a few times to integrate the cheese into the sauce.
The result is a sweeter version of pesto that works wonders for the palate. The flavor of the peas really shines through and adds a little something special and particularly wonderful during the warmer weather.
The dough we employed for our latest pizza night was a whole wheat pizza dough I found at the Farmer’s Market. I left it to Adam to stretch it out, and observed him channeling his old pizza cook days. You can get fancy like Adam, or watch a tutorial on stretching dough on line, or just pull out a rolling pin and flatten that dough out rogue style.
To the dough we added the peasto, cheese, zephyr squash off the farm tossed in a little EVOO and salt and pepper, and some delicious Italian salami. We topped it with a bit more mozzarella cheese,
and slid it on to our pizza stone using the wooden peel we got as a wedding shower gift. (Pizza tools make excellent presents for your friends!)
We baked that sucker at 550 degrees for about ten minutes and poof! Pizza perfection.
Yum! The dough was crispy on the bottom with a lovely chew to it. The whole wheat crust was healthier than its white counterpart, and the flavor was earthy and delightful. I loved the saltiness of the salami and the freshness of our Turtle Bend squash. The peasto lent sweetness to every bite.
The beauty of making pizza in your own home is that you control the ingredients. You can choose how much sauce to ladle on your pie. Somehow, there is rarely enough sauce for me on store-bought pizzas. In addition, you don’t have to pay $1.50 to add a handful or spinach or grilled asparagus or feta cheese that you happen to have leftover in your fridge from a meal earlier in the week.
I hope you’ll get wild and crazy with some pizza of your own this week. It’s fun for the whole family! You can even use a biscuit cutter to pop out small round doughs for kids (or grown ups) to fix their own personal pies. Interactive food is always the most fun! Take pizza night into your own hands, and have a ball with it.
Happy cooking and eating.