Deep Dish Three Cheese Pesto Pizza

The hubster makes the best pizza. Every Saturday is Pizza Night in our house, and I’m never the pizza maker. Sometimes we’ll have nice, easy hand-tossed pizzas, sometimes calzones, but one of my favorites is when we have deep dish pizza. I love all that bread…no matter how unhealthy it is!

Several weeks ago, we decided to try something new with our deep dish pizza and it was delicious. Instead of adding the traditional tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings, we had a pesto pizza. The hubster spread my fresh, homemade pesto on the crust, then topped it with three wonderful cheeses. He also made a slightly healthier crust by adding a little wheat and rye flours. It was so fantastic! The whole pizza had a lighter texture and flavor with a fresh, green taste.

One of the great things about this pizza (besides how tasty it is), is that you can keep it as simple as we have, or you can punch it up more with toppings like black olives and fresh tomatoes. It’s superb either way!

To get started, we need to make the pesto. I stuck with a simple, basic pesto recipe, but you can use any recipe you like. I did decide to increase the garlic a bit, but, again, you can add as little or as much as you like. All you need is salt, garlic (whole, unpeeled), walnuts, parmesan cheese, fresh parsley (chopped), fresh, whole bay leaves, and olive oil.

Start by toasting the walnuts in a small skillet set over medium heat. Shake the walnuts in the pan frequently until they are fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set the walnuts aside and repeat the process with the garlic cloves, shaking the pan less frequently, until fragrant (about five to seven minutes). Remove the garlic from the pan and allow to cool for a few minutes before peeling and chopping. The skin of the garlic should easily fall way.

Place all of the pesto ingredients, except the parmesan, into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, scraping the bowl as necessary. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the parmesan, add more salt to taste, and cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Now it’s time for the awesome, soft pizza dough. You’ll need potatoes (peeled and diced), all-purpose flour, water, olive oil, instant yeast, salt, rye flour, and wheat flour. **Only peel and dice the potato if you have a potato ricer, otherwise, leave it whole so that it can be grated later.

In a medium pan, boil the potatoes until fork tender; 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and allow the potatoes to cool until you can handle them.

While the potato is cooling, place the flours, yeast, and salt in a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, and whisk to combine.

Press the cooled potatoes through a ricer into the mixing bowl (or grate the potato into the mixing bowl). Whisk the mixture together until combined. Mixing on low speed with the dough hook attachment, add the water and mix until the dough just comes together. Add two tablespoons of olive oil and mix for a few seconds until the dough is smooth (it will be slightly sticky). Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled (about 45 minutes).

Once the dough is doubled, pour remaining olive oil into a 14-inch deep dish pizza pan and set aside. Turn the risen dough onto a well floured pizza peel or baking sheet. Punch down and shape the pizza into a round, about 12 inches in diameter. Gently slide the dough into the prepared pizza pan, making sure it is centered.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Shape the dough in the pan by pulling the edges gently up the sides of the pan to form a crust around the rim. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 to 40 minutes. Once doubled, uncover and generously prick the dough repeatedly with a fork. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake the crust for 15 minutes (the bottom right image is the baked crust).

Spread all of the pesto onto the par-baked crust. Now, top as you please! We started with fresh provolone, then added plenty of mozzarella and topped it all off with a sprinkling of parmesan. A crack of fresh pepper and a sprinkle of salt finished the whole thing of perfectly. Return the pizza to the oven and bake until the cheese melts, another 10 to 15 minutes. If desired, move the pizza to the top of the oven and bake for an additional five minutes, until brown spots appear on the cheese.

I love the little golden spots of bubbly cooked cheese…I highly recommend that extra little step! Allow to cool for five minutes before slicing and serving.

The bottom of the pizza is still soft, but has a slightly crisp texture, thanks to the olive oil we poured in the pan.

This isn’t a pizza that I would want every weekend, because I like my sausage and pepperoni, but it’s an excellent pizza when you just want a little change or something a little lighter. Even with all of that thick, bready crust it’s still not incredibly heavy, thanks to the wheat and rye flours. The crust is thick, but light and fluffy, with an airy texture, and the pesto and cheese toppings compliment it perfectly. No matter what toppings you decide to add, this pizza will be a hit with everyone! Enjoy!

Three Cheese Deep Dish Pesto Pizza
Makes 1 14-inch pizza
Ingredients

FOR THE PESTO
2 tablespoons walnuts
4 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley leaves (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2-1 1/2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
3 tablespoons finely grated parmesan

FOR THE PIZZA DOUGH
1 medium baking potato, peeled and diced to medium sized cubes (if you don’t own a ricer, don’t cube the potato, as you’ll need to use a grater)
10 ounces (about 2 cups) all-purpose flour
5 ounces (about 1 cup) wheat flour
2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) rye flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

TOPPINGS
2-3 ounces grated mozzarella
2-3 ounces provolone
1-2 ounces finely grated parmesan

To make the pesto: Toast the walnuts in a small skillet set over medium heat. Shake the walnuts in the pan frequently until they are fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set the walnuts aside and repeat the process with the garlic cloves, shaking the pan less frequently, until fragrant (about 5-7 minutes). Remove the garlic from the pan and allow to cool for a few minutes before peeling and chopping. The skin of the garlic should easily fall way.

Place the walnuts, garlic, basil, parsley, olive oil, and about 1/2 teaspoon salt into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, scraping the bowl as necessary. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the parmesan, add more salt to taste, and cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the pizza dough: In a medium pan, boil the potatoes until fork tender; 10-15 minutes. Drain and allow the potatoes to cool until you can handle them.

While the potato is cooling, place the flours, yeast, and salt in a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer and whisk to combine. Press the cooled potatoes through a ricer into the mixing bowl (or grate the potato into the mixing bowl). Whisk the mixture together until combined. Mixing on low speed with the dough hook attachment, add the water and mix until the dough just comes together. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix for a few seconds until the dough is smooth (it will be slightly sticky). Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled (about 45 minutes).

Pour remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil into a 14-inch deep dish pizza pan and set aside. Turn the risen dough onto a well floured pizza peel or baking sheet. Punch down and shape the pizza into a round, about 12 inches in diameter. Gently slide the dough into the prepared pizza pan, making sure it is centered.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

SHape the dough in the pan by pulling the edges gently up the sides of the pan to form a crust around the edges. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30-40 minutes. Once doubled, uncover and generously prick the dough repeatedly with a fork. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake the crust for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and spread the pesto on top, then top as desired. Return the pizza to the oven and bake until the cheese melts, another 10-15 minutes. If desired, move the pizza to the top of the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes, until brown spots appear on the cheese. The pizza is done when the bottom is golden brown (as pictured above). Allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Recipe by Darla and The Hubster

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Comments

  1. Sheri says

    I LOVE pesto on pizza. There’s a place in town where I get it (I love to cook, but don’t do pizza at home!) with chicken, spinach and mushrooms. It’s excellent!

  2. says

    You are my new favorite person.
    Let me explain. I love pizza. I’m allergic to tomatoes. And I’ve never learned how to make deep dish dough. The combination means that I’ve always been stuck with the crackery crusts I know how to make–good, but not always what I’m in the mood for.
    Thankyouthankyouthankyou!
    -KosherCait

  3. madeline says

    Wonderful!

    I made this last night and it was a HUGE hit. I don’t have a pizza pan but my iron skillet worked just as well. Bonus – didn’t need as much oil. Pesto isn’t a big hit at my house, so I put barbecue sauce on the bottom instead of sauce and put chicken & broccoli on top of the cheese. Even the toddler ate a grown-up sized piece.

    Thank you for sharing your gifts of cooking and photography with us!.

    We’re making hi-hats for my son’s birthday party. :)

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