Pesto Chicken Pizza
This dough is INCREDIBLY easy to whip up, and only takes about 15 minutes total until you can load it with toppings and pop it in the oven. The secret is to use warm water, sugar, and yeast mixed together (for about five minutes, until frothy) and THEN add it to your flour mixture. This way you only need to let the dough sit for about 10 minutes before you can roll it out and Pizza the hell out of it
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
Combine sugar, water, and yeast into a bowl and let sit for about 5 minutes, until nice and frothy. Then add into the rest of the mixture. Let stand 10 minutes. Then Viola! Kneed it and roll it out!
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
- 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced, to taste. I prefer a strong garlic taste.
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
All ingredients go into a food processor or blender, puree until smooth.
CHICKEN SEASONING AND COOKING:
Salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, dried minced onion, paprika. About a tablespoon of each, or to taste.
Rub over chicken and then heat skillet over medium to blacken both sides. Once nicely browned, pop into a 350-75 degree oven and cook through.
I brown the chicken first to create a nice salty crust on the outside, and then pop it in the oven to do the rest of the cooking. It’s a great way to keep your chicken moist, too, and not letting it get too dry.
Take out and let the juices redistribute (about five minutes), and then slice/carve/chop/shred to your liking. I personally chop it up into nice bite size chunks to spread over the Pizza later.
PIZZA TOPPING INGREDIENTS:
- Mozzarella cheese (a few cups. It really all depends on how you like your pizza. More sauce and veggies, less cheese. More cheese, less veggies….. MORE. CHEESE. YUM.)
I also like to use what I call an “Italian Cheese Mix” which basically consists of Mozzarella and Parmesan. Or really an “Italian” style cheese you can think of. The more difference you have here, the more flavors are brought out in your finished product. I personally LOVE the saltiness of the Parmesan/Romano/Pecorino.
- Green/Red/Yellow/Orange Bell Pepper. Or a mixture of all of them. For one whole pizza, I’d say one full pepper is MORE than enough.
- Sweet yellow onion, diced. To taste, of course. I use about a cup or so. Depending on the type of pizza.
- Mushrooms – I used about two handfuls of roughly chopped mushrooms. Just spread out among the rest of the ingredients.
- Pepperoni – Just a tiny little stack of sliced Pepperoni, just to add a little bit of kick to it
To build your pizza:
I start by putting a hefty amount of sauce on the bottom. In my house, we love us some sauce, so we don’t use it sparingly. You can put however much you’d like on it. Just remember that if you have TOO much, your crust may not be able to support it. So remember to think of the thickness you’ve rolled your dough out to in comparison to how much sauce you should use. After the sauce I sprinkle just a smidge of cheese, and then start with the toppings. I add a bit of the chicken, pepperoni, and vegetables. Then add a hint more cheese (salt and pepper, and oregano, red pepper, etc. depending on what sort of taste you’re going for) before you add the rest of the toppings, and then another layer of cheese.
You DO NOT have to build your pizza in layers, and really, you can build it however you like. Some people like the vegetables on top (like the onion, where it gets a little charred from the oven) or all completely hidden by ONE thick layer of cheese. Personally, I like to do it in layers. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, really, I just think it looks prettier when building. And it keeps the cheeses from sliding clean off the top when you are biting into it.
NOW TO COOK THE PIZZA. I usually cook it at about 450 degrees, for about 20 minutes. I like my crust to be a bit darker brown. If you like a softer crust, just keep an eye on it until it’s starting to get nice and golden. Just make sure you’re cooking it ATLEAST for 15 minutes to keep the crust consistent all the way through. Undercooking it will lead to a soggy, doughy crust. And that’s not typically pleasant.
Once it’s cooked to your degree of liking, take it out of the oven and let it sit for about 4-5 minutes or so. This allows the cheese to harden up a little bit and makes it easier to cut.
Then, just slice and enjoy. Leftovers can be refrigerated for a few days!!