Archive for the 'Pizza' Category

Pizza with Pesto, Sausage, & Tomatoes

Pizza with Pesto, Sausage, & Tomatoes

Pesto on pizza is a great alternative to pizza sauce.  I love making homemade pizza dough, and it’s fun to experiment with different toppings.  Usually I just use whatever I have on hand, and this time I happened to have a package of artichoke and garlic sausages (Aidells brand), mozzarella cheese, and cherry tomatoes.  I decided to make pesto to go with it, and it turned out to be a great combination.  I used my favorite pizza crust recipe, as well as my sister’s recipe for pesto.  The pesto was delicious!  Enjoy!

Pizza with Pesto, Sausage, & Tomatoes


  • 1 ball of pizza dough, rolled out on parchment paper (pizza dough recipe here)
  • Mozzarella cheese, grated
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 pre-cooked sausage link, sliced thin (I like Aidells brand… there are lots of different flavors.  Artichoke and garlic is a good choice.)
  • Pesto Sauce (recipe below)


  1. Place a pizza stone on rack in lower third of oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees for 30 minutes.
  2. Spread pesto sauce onto rolled out pizza dough.  Top with desired amount of cheese, tomatoes, and sausage.  (I like to put half of the cheese on now, and then the other half of the cheese on a couple minutes before the pizza is finished baking.  This prevents the cheese from browning too much).
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.  Lift the parchment and pizza onto the heated pizza stone.  Bake the pizza about 8-12 minutes, until the crust edges brown and the cheese is golden brown in spots.

Pesto Sauce


  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 2/3 cup (2 oz.) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups loosely packed fresh basil
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. With food processor running, drop garlic through the feed tube to chop.  Then add pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and basil; pulse until finely chopped.
  2. Add olive oil in a steady stream while the processor is running and blend until incorporated.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: approx. 1 1/3 cups (recipe can be halved)

As you can see in this photo, I went a little light on the cheese because I don’t like my pizza too cheesy. Half of the pizza had less cheese (my half) and Eric’s half had extra cheese- just the way we both like it :)

Source: Pizza Dough recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, ‘Italian Classics’ Cookbook;  Pesto recipe from Kristine’s Kitchen


Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil Tart

Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil Tart

If you are looking for an alternative to margherita pizza, this recipe is for you.   It has the same yummy toppings that you would find on a margherita pizza, but instead of a pizza, it’s a tart.  The crust consists of standard tart dough, with the addition of fresh minced basil and garlic mixed into it.  This gives the crust lots of flavor, making it extra delicious.  The toppings for the tart are simple- a little bit of tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, basil, and parmesan cheese (as well as a sprinkle of salt, pepper, & extra virgin olive oil for extra flavor).

One thing that’s nice about this tart is that you can make the tart dough ahead of time, roll it out, and assemble it in the tart pan.  Then you just wrap the prepared tart in plastic wrap and refrigerate it if you plan to use it that day, or freeze it if you are saving it for another day.  When you are ready to cook the tart, just pop it in the oven, and blind bake the crust, add the toppings, and then finish baking it.

When I most recently made this tart for Mother’s Day, I served slices of it as a side dish, but it can be a main course too (a salad or veggies would go well with it).  This tart would also make for an impressive appetizer.  Enjoy!

Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil Tart with Basil Garlic Crust

(print recipe)


For the dough:

  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter (1 stick), chilled and cut into 8-10 pieces
  • 4-5 tbsp. ice cold water

For the filling:

  • 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, grated or sliced
  • Ripe cherry tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 tbsp. minced fresh basil
  • ¼ cup tomato-basil marinara sauce (optional)


  1. To make the dough, combine the basil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor.  Process, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until finely minced.  Add the flour and salt; pulse briefly to combine.  Add in the chunks of butter and pulse about 10 times, or until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs.  Add 3 tablespoons of the water and pulse a few times to incorporate.  Add 1 more tablespoon and process for several seconds to see if the dough forms a ball.  If not, add the remaining tablespoon of water and process until a ball of dough forms.  Remove the dough, flatten into a 5-inch disc, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. 2. When you are ready to bake the tart, preheat the oven to 425° F.  Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a 12-inch circle.  Lay the dough over a 9-inch round tart pan and press it into the sides.  Trim the excess dough as needed.  (I use this to reinforce the edges.)  Lay a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper loosely over the tart dough and fill the center with baking beads (pie weights).  Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil or parchment and baking beads.  Return the empty tart shell to the oven to bake for 5 minutes more (crust should be lightly browned).  Remove from the oven and lower the heat to 375° F.  Note: If tart dough has puffed up during baking, prick it with a fork a few times.
  3. Spread a very thin layer of marinara sauce on the tart (The marinara sauce is optional- I like the extra flavor it provides, but since you only need a little sauce, I would only add it if you already have an open jar of leftover sauce in your fridge).
  4. Then layer the bottom of the pre-baked tart shell with the mozzarella.  Arrange the cherry tomato slices on top of the cheese in a single even layer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Top with freshly grated Parmesan and half of the minced fresh basil.
  5. Bake about 30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned in places.  About halfway through baking, rotate the tart 180° and wick off any excess moisture that has collected on top with a towel if necessary.  Once you have removed the tart from the oven, sprinkle the remaining basil onto it.  Allow the tart to rest at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Recipe adapted from: Annie’s Eats Blog; Originally from Pink Parsley, Ezra Pound Cake and The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough

A few months ago I made pizza dough from scratch for the first time.  It tastes so much better than frozen pizza, and it’s so easy to make (healthier too)!  The dough is mixed in a food processor, and it takes less than 10 minutes to put together.  You do have to plan ahead though; once the dough is mixed up it needs to rise for 1.5-2 hours.

This recipe makes enough dough for 2 large pizzas, or 3 medium ones, so I always like to freeze the extra dough.  It’s definitely worth the added effort to have a delicious homemade pizza, and I really like being able to choose whichever toppings I like.

When I most recently made this pizza, I topped it with my favorite tomato basil pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, artichoke hearts, sliced prosciutto, kalamata olives, basil, and sliced red peppers.  It was a wonderful combination of ingredients, and I will for sure be making this pizza again!  Enjoy!

Pizza Dough

(print recipe)


  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 envelope (2 ¼ teaspoons) rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups (20 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting work surfaces & hands (all-purpose flour can be substituted, but the resulting crust will be less crisp)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt


  1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup measuring cup.  Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes.  Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine.
  2. Pulse the flour and salt in the work bowl of a large food processor fitted with a steel blade to combine.  Continue pulsing while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few tablespoons) through the feed tube.  If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse until a ball forms.  Process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds longer.
  3. The dough will be a bit tacky, so use a rubber spatula to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead by hand for a few strokes to form a smooth, rough ball.  Put the dough into a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled in size, 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Yield: 3 balls of pizza dough (enough for 3 medium sized pizzas, or 2 large pizzas)

When you are ready to assemble & cook the pizza:

  1. Place a pizza stone on a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes.
  2. After the dough has finished rising, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into three pieces.  Form each piece of dough into a smooth, round ball and cover it with a damp cloth.  Let the dough rest for at least 10 minutes, but no more than 30 minutes.
  3. Working with one ball of dough at a time and keeping the others covered, roll the dough out into a circle.
  4. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet or pizza pan that has been lightly dusted with cornmeal.
  5. Lightly brush the dough round with olive oil.  Spread tomato sauce evenly over the dough, leaving a ½ inch border around the edge.  Sprinkle with cheese and toppings of your choice.
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.  Slide the dough onto the heated pizza stone (I just put the cookie sheet or pizza pan directly onto the pizza stone). Bake until the crust edges brown and the cheese is golden brown in spots, 8-12 minutes.
  7. Cut the pizza into wedges and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from: Cook’s Illustrated, ‘Italian Classics’ Cookbook

This is what the dough looks like before it has risen.

Puff Pastry Pizza

Puff Pastry Pizza with Tomato Sauce

Whenever my fridge gets full of random leftover ingredients, I make a “clean out the fridge” dinner, where I try to use up as many things from my fridge as possible.  Last week I had leftover homemade tomato sauce, 2 artichoke and roasted garlic sausages (Aidell’s brand), a block of parmesan cheese, 2 Roma tomatoes, a carrot, and some asparagus.  So I decided to make pizza with a side of steamed carrots & asparagus.

I had planned on making the pizza dough from scratch, but when I went to grab a packet of yeast out of the freezer, it had expired in 2007, so I threw it out.  I couldn’t find any more packets of yeast in my kitchen, but I did find a package of Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry dough in my freezer.  I pulled it out, looked at the box, and the box said to go to for recipe ideas.  So I went to the website, and apparently there are hundreds of things you can make with frozen puff pastry dough.  I never would have thought to look there for recipes.  I found a recipe for pepperoni pizza and printed it out.

The pizza turned out great – the puff pastry crust was lighter and fluffier than regular pizza.  And it was the perfect way to use up some of the ingredients I had.

Adapted from:

Puff Pastry Pizza

(print recipe)


  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough (such as Pepperidge Farm)
  • tomato sauce (jarred or homemade… whatever you have)
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Toppings of your choice: (I used 2 diced, cooked sausage links, 2 sliced tomatoes, some Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning)


  1. Thaw pastry dough at room temperature for 40 minutes.  Heat oven to 400’ F.
  2. Unfold dough onto lightly floured surface.  Roll into 15”x10” rectangle and place on a baking sheet.  Prick dough thoroughly with a fork.  Bake for 10-12 minutes. – Note: Do not under bake or your pizza will be too doughy.
  3. Spread tomato sauce over the dough, leaving a ½ inch edge.  Top with mozzarella cheese and toppings of your choice.  Bake 5-7 minutes or until cheese melts.
  4. Cut into 8 pieces and serve.

Serves: 4

Steamed carrots & asparagus are an easy and healthy side dish

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