pesto pizza with artichokes and blue cheese

Homemade pizza was a regular staple on our dining room table for many years. My dad used to make it all the time; he and mom would make the dough and then make all kinds of crazy pizza concoctions. 

My dad is what one might refer to as a 'health nut' although that barely grazes the surface. Basically, the man exercises constantly and has the body fat of someone without access to modern food technologies. For a while, my parents' larder consisted of what I affectionately referred to as 'rocks and sticks'. Pretty much, if you opened the pantry, you'd find raw, sprouted things; dried grains like buckwheat, spelt, and amaranth; chips made out of things like mung beans and lentils; whole wheat flour (if there was flour at all) and maybe some whole wheat or quinoa pasta. The reason I came up with the nickname is that many of these food items come with labels that say things like 'check for small pebbles before eating' or 'may include natural matter, like small twigs or leaves'. So, they were literally eating rocks and sticks.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for healthy eating habits and I 100% support the natural food movement. But, I believe there needs to be balance in everything we do- everything in moderation. Including the rocks and sticks. So, these days, the pantry has evolved- the lentil chips are still there, but so is white sugar and cake flour. When my dad suggested we make homemade pizza for dinner, I was excited to welcome this once-traditional family dinner back to our table.

Making pizza at home is 1. easy 2. awesome 3. worth it 4. making lists is fun 5. super easy.

Of course, you can make it a little extra easy by purchasing a ready-to-bake dough from a grocery store or local pizza place- most independent places will sell you a ball of raw dough, and then you don't have to fuss with making it. We bought our dough from Whole Foods, and I tell you what, it was great. I would definitely buy it again. No, Whole Foods is not paying me (I wish!).

For best results, you should invest in a pizza pan or two. They come in round or square shapes, with perforations in the bottom to let the dough cook without steaming. This gives you that crispy crust you're looking for.

So, here's how it's done:

Preheat your oven to 400 and have a counter floured to roll out your dough. Get your toppings all chopped and ready.

Roll the dough to your desired thickness- that's the great thing about doing it yourself!

This trickiest part is getting the dough from the counter to the pan. Just be gentle and it'll work out great.

Once it's in the pan, for this particular recipe, you're going to do the crust with goat cheese, mild blue cheese, and minced garlic. I used my garlic press right over the top of the pizza, and gently shook it out so the garlic wasn't in big chunks. Then I dusted everything with some finely grated Parmesan. After topping the pizza, I roll the crust up- this way you get some of the cheesey goodness into the crust edges. The ratio I used is about 1:2 blue:goat cheese, otherwise the blue will be too overwhelming.

Pop the cheese-topped crust into the oven for five minutes to parbake the crust and melt the cheese. Pull the crust out and gently spread the melted cheese around, then top with the pesto and spread evenly.

Yeah buddy.

Yeah buddy.

pesto artichoke pizza (10).jpg


Top evenly with artichoke hearts, cooked chopped sausage, and sunflower seeds. Then give the whole pizza a healthy dusting of finely grated Parmesan.

Top evenly with artichoke hearts, cooked chopped sausage, and sunflower seeds. Then give the whole pizza a healthy dusting of finely grated Parmesan.

Cook your pizza at 400 for 15-20 minutes (Mine took 17) until the crust is golden brown and the toppings are melted together.

"rustic" pizza: the crust got away from me a bit on the one side. still delicious. pizza and breadstick in one!

"rustic" pizza: the crust got away from me a bit on the one side. still delicious. pizza and breadstick in one!

Recipe:

Dough for 1 pizza

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 1/2 ounces mild, good blue cheese, like Gorgonzola Dolce

3 ounces goat cheese

1 c parmesan cheese

3 T good pesto- homemade is always best

3/4 c chopped, drained artichoke hearts

1/2 c chopped cooked sausage

3 T roasted salted sunflower seeds

 

Preheat your oven to 400. Roll out your dough and set it in the pan.

Top with the garlic, goat cheese, blue cheese, and 1/2 the parmesan, scattering appropriately.

Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread the cheese around gently until evenly distributed. Top with pesto, spread evenly.

Top with artichokes, sausage, and sunflower seeds, finishing with remaining parmesan.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until everything is golden brown and you can't stand it for one more minute. Be sure to put your hot pizza on a perforated surface to the bottom doesn't get soggy. Enjoy.

 

Meal suggestions:

Pesto pizza & simple summer salad & roasted pineapple for dessert