One time I lived in Spain for 6 months. And I didn’t like olive oil. In fact I avoided it like the plague, which, since most mediterranean cuisine involves copious amounts of olive oil, resulted in me returning to the states 11 pounds lighter, having lived off of Burger King french fries, flan cups, chocolate bars and orange Fanta.
Fastforward 5 years and I can’t get enough of the aceite de oliva and wish I had studied abroad a few years later when I could have really enjoyed the delicious Spanish cuisine. My 19 year old self was just still a little too picky of an eater.
The whole point of this olive oil tangent is that it is a vital part of this delicious pizza crust recipe that I am going to share with you and an even more vital part of the pesto that tops it. I hope you enjoy!
recipe comes from my friend Lauren at Almost Casual – she is a domestic genius! Her recipe is in plain text, my commentary is in italics.
All-Purpose Pizza Dough
1 package active dry yeast
1c warm water
2 tsp olive oil
salt (if you remember, I usually don’t) I haven’t ever remembered
2 ½ c all-purpose flour
1. mix the water, honey, and olive oil
2. whisk in the yeast
3. let sit for about 4-5 minutes (yeast should get puffy)
(Lauren includes directions on how to mix by hand, but I use my trusty Kitchen-Aid mixer. The dough hook is amazing.)
4. add about 1 to 1 ½ c of flour [to the olive oil mixture above] and mix with the paddle mixer
5. Mix in the rest of the flour with the dough hook.
6. let the dough hook do it’s magic for about 2-3 minutes (the dough should look like a ball, with the bottom still sticking to the bowl. If it’s too wet, add a bit of flour [which both times I’ve made it I have had to do])
7. Pour olive oil in the bowl, and lift of the ball of dough to make sure it gets underneath. Cover with a warm, damp towel, and let rise about one hour.
8. After the dough has risen for an hour (and doubled in size) move it to a pizza pan, and start stretchin! [I add a little bit of flour to the dough to make this part a little easier]
9. Once the dough is stretched evenly over the pan, bake for about 5 minutes at 400-450F [I used a small pizza stone the first time which resulted in a DELICIOUS thick crust, the second time I used a large rectangular cookie sheet which made the pizza a lot bigger and the crust a more ‘hand tossed’ thickness… still only lasted 24 hours in our house though ;-)]
10. Add your sauce, toppings, and cheeses!
11. Switch the oven to Broil, and keep the pizza in there until the cheese and browned and bubbly
Lauren is a genius! I started experimenting with pizza crust in college when I lived in The Oaks, and I could never get the pizza done evenly on the inside and always ended up with a soggy topping mess in the middle. Her method of baking it first and then broiling it with toppings is absolutely genius. The perfect remedy for soggy messy pizza that requires a fork and knife.
Now for the pesto + toppings:
I mixed 1/3 cup olive oil with two frozen cubes of basil from Trader Joe’s and maybe 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese. I microwaved it for 30 seconds, just enough to thaw the basil cubs, mixed it and spooned it onto the just baked pizza crust, placed a layer of fresh spinach leaves, added a ton of mozzarella, some slices of tomatos and broiled it until the mozzarella browned a little. Definitely my favorite pizza. I had a lot of pesto left over which has been a delicious addition to grilled cheeses during these summer days.
Yum. Happy pizzaing!