Basil is easy to grow in Louisiana in the summertime. In fact, my garden is full of the herb. One seed packet makes a huge crop. Basil makes a nice addition to salads and pasta. Pizza is a favorite dish and I experimented with using basil in a pizza tart recipe. The homemade pizza is surprisingly easy to make and has become a family favorite. Colorful Fresh Tomato and Basil Pesto Pizza
This pizza, or tart, is simple to assemble with the help of convenience dough for the crust and pre-sliced provolone cheese. Basil pesto is quick when made in a food processor. I skipped the pizza sauce and used fresh tomatoes instead. The ripe and colorful red, yellow and orange tomatoes are perfect for a topping–they apparently are grown in a hot house as they are available year around. Easy Homemade Pizza Crust
Making pizza at home isn’t difficult. The dough is probably the most challenging part of the process. We didn’t have convenient pizza delivery stores growing up in rural Virginia. Plus my mother liked to make things from scratch, so we made our own pizza dough using a variety of methods.
Pizza dough is a yeast dough similar to bread dough and there are several ways to make the crust. One easy solution is to use frozen convenience bread dough for the crust. It actually works very well (and takes like commercial pizza). A one pound loaf of the dough is enough for a medium size pizza.
Thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator. Alternately thaw at room temperature. Then place in oiled bowl that fits dough, cover and set in warm location to rise until dough reaches top of bowl. This manufacturer states this takes from 3 – 6 hours; I did not try this route. Bread dough is very stretchy and it can be a challenge making the dough stretch to fit the oiled baking sheet. With the help of a rolling pin and some patience it works.
Basil pesto is a good way to use lots of the basil from the garden. For the pizza, I made sort of a mash using fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts and a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Blend everything together in a food processor. A basil pesto dressing is similar, just has more olive oil, which is not needed in this recipe. Assembling the Pizza
Gently brush the pizza dough with olive oil and pre-cook the dough in the oven for 10 minutes prior to adding the rest of the ingredients. This browns and bakes the dough. In this pizza the other ingredients really just need to heat through with the cheese melting. This assured things finish cooking at the same time. Layer the provolone cheese slices onto the pre-cooked dough. Then add the basil pesto mash. Top with the tomato slices and bake or broil the tomatoes. Recipe
Colorful Tomato and Basil Pesto Pizza
- Vegetable oil for oiling proofing bowl and baking sheet
- 1 lb frozen loaf of bread dough
- 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 8 oz sliced provolone cheese
- approx 6 – 8 colorful assorted total red, yellow and orange ripe tomatoes (3 red tomatoes and 1 1/2 orange and yellow tomatoes, each, were used in this recipe)
- basil pesto
Basil pesto ingredients
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, sorted, washed and drained
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- sprinkle of salt and pepper
Instructions and Steps
- Lightly oil a medium bowl that fits the bread dough. Place dough in bowl, turn to coat with oil, cover loosely. Defrost the loaf of bread dough and allow it to proof in refrigerator overnight; it should rise to top of bowl.
- When ready to make pizza, remove dough from refrigerator and let dough return to room temperature.
- Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly oil a 10″ x 15″ baking sheet.
- Make Basil pesto and set aside: place basil leaves in food processor, add garlic cloves. Pulse until basil and garlic are minced. Add pine nuts and pulse until pulverized. Slowly pour in olive oil, with food processor running on continuous. Scrape down sides of bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pulse to combine.
- Stretch the pizza dough to fit into the baking sheet. Use a rolling pin, applying pressure as needed, to stretch the dough to fit. Allow the dough to “rest” for periods of several minutes to help dough relax and stretch..
- Carefully brush top of dough with 1- 2 Tbsp olive oil. Place in pre-heated oven at 425 degrees and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Arrange provolone cheese slices on dough.
- Spread basil pesto over provolone cheese.
- Slice tomatoes in up to 1/4″ slices. Arrange tomatoes in rows (or other design) over basil pesto.
- Return to oven and bake 15 minutes, until cheese melts and tomatoes begin to broil.
Cut in 8 pieces and serve. Serves 4.