Tuesday, January 21, 2014

{Recipe Redux} Spinach and Basil Pesto, Roasted Tomato & Ricotta Pizza

It’s no secret that we love pizza.  We’ve shown you how to make it before.  We’ve talked about our favorite pizza places, including here and here.  It’s one of our favorite foods.

People always seem relieved when they find out we love pizza.  It makes us normal, I suppose.  The truth is, we love good food.  Sure, we love kale salad and apples, but we also love carrot cake and pancakes.  And pizza.

This time, it’s pizza with a spinach and basil pesto, roasted tomatoes and fresh ricotta cheese on a homemade whole wheat crust.  

All of the recipes are below.  Here are some pictures, to help you as you create your own, which we hope you do.  (And we’d love to hear how they turn out!)

First, the crust.  Everyone is always intimated by the crust.  But it’s really easy.  I promise.  The trick is not to add too much flour to the dough, or the dough will be tough.  And give it some time to rise, and then time to rest.

You can divide the pizza dough into balls and either refrigerate or freeze them, to use later.

Also, use whole wheat bread flour (as opposed to all purpose flour), which has a higher gluten content.  The gluten gives the dough elasticity, which is what creates that great, chewy crust.

Next, the pesto.  I like to blend spinach and basil together in my pesto, because sometimes basil alone can be too strong for my taste.  You can use all basil if you like, or basil and parsley.  Those would be good, too.  If you don’t have a food processor, just use your blender.  It will work fine; you just might have to add some more oil.

Roasted tomatoes couldn’t be simpler.  Just toss in a little olive oil and put in a hot oven until they begin to burst.  It’s the perfect way to eat tomatoes out of season.

For the ricotta cheese, you can make your own, if you like.  It’s very easy.  Here’s the recipe I use, if you want to try.  Or, if you’re lucky enough to be able to buy fresh ricotta in your grocery store, then use that.  Fresh ricotta tastes best.  Or, you could absolutely use fresh mozzarella or feta or goat cheese.  It’s your pizza.

Here it is, right before it goes in the oven.

 And after.

We hope you enjoy creating this pizza, and sharing it with the people you love!

Spinach and Basil Pesto, Roasted Tomato & Ricotta Pizza

Makes one small pizza

1/6 of the whole wheat pizza dough recipe
2 – 3 tablespoons spinach basil pesto
1/4 cup roasted tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh whole milk ricotta cheese

Place a pizza stone or cast iron griddle in the lower half of your oven.  Preheat oven to 500 – 550 degrees F for at least 30 minutes.

Place the dough on a pizza wheel (or a cutting board, if you don’t have a pizza wheel) that has been dusted with flour.  Stretch the dough to your desired thickness and place on the pizza wheel.  Top the pizza with a thin layer of the pesto, and then dot with the roasted tomatoes and ricotta cheese. 

Carefully slide the pizza from the board to the pizza stone that has been preheating in the oven  Use a back and forth motion to get the pizza to slide off.  As long as you’ve floured your board, it should be easy.  Bake the pizza for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the toppings are bubbling. 

Easy Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 packet yeast (1/4 oz yeast total)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups whole wheat bread flour
1 tablespoon sea salt

Making the Dough

Add the two cups of warm water to a small bowl, with the sugar.  Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and stir or whisk slightly to incorporate the yeast into the water.  Let the yeast mixture set about 5 minutes, or until the top is foamy and you smell the yeast developing. 

In the meantime, in a very large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.  After the yeast has developed, pour the yeast mixture into the flour and then add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Stir the dough with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough is formed.  Cover the bowl with a towel and let it sit for 20 – 30 minutes.  This lets the flour absorb the water and makes kneading easier. 

If you have a stand mixer with a dough attachment, use this to knead the dough for 10 minutes.  Alternatively, to knead by hand, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Try not to add extra flour – you want a fairly wet dough.  If your hands are sticking to the dough, wet your hands and the dough won’t stick. 

If you kneaded the dough by hand, return the dough to the bowl.  Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and then top with a towel.  Let the dough rise in a warm location for at least 2 hours or until doubled in size. 

Gently deflate the dough and divide into 3 equal portions for 3 large pizzas, or 6 equal portions for 6 small pizzas.  Shape each portion into a ball and place on a board that has been dusted with flour.  Cover the dough with a towel, and let the dough rest for another 30 minutes before baking. 

At this point, you can also refrigerate or freeze the dough to use later.    

Spinach and Basil Pesto

Makes about 1 ½ cups

2 cups baby spinach
1 cup basil leaves
1 clove garlic, if desired
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted and cooled
pinch of sea salt
zest of one lemon
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Add the baby spinach, basil leave, garlic clove, pine nuts, salt, lemon zest and red pepper flakes to the bowl of your food processor.  Pulse until the mixture is chopped.  With the motor running, steam in the olive oil until the pesto comes together.  The pesto should be fairly thick.  Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese.  The pesto will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for 4 to 5 days.

Roasted Grape Tomatoes

Makes about 2 cups

1 pint grape tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the grape tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with a little olive oil, sea salt and red pepper flakes.  Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast for about 14 – 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to pop and turn brown.  Remove from the oven and immediately pour into a bowl, with all of the juices.  The tomatoes will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for 3 or 4 days.


  1. Yum! Great minds think alike! I also made a pesto and tomato pizza - will be posting tomorrow!

    1. Hi Jessica, we just took a peek at yours and it looks amazing! We love the recipe cards, too. Such a cute idea :)

  2. Looks delicious! I love fresh tomatoes and pesto on pizza - one of the best combinations there is!

    1. Thanks Debbie! We love all kinds of pizza...but this one is at the top of our list!

  3. This looks amazing! Love the flavor combinations. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

    1. Thanks Elana! Your sweet potato, kale combo has us drooling ;)

  4. This looks fabulous! Love love love roasted tomatoes on pizza.

  5. Thanks Kara! We actually just posted a Roasted Tomato Soup recipe today because we love them so much :) http://www.nourishrds.blogspot.com/2014/01/craving-tomatoes-and-roasted-tomato-soup.html

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