More than a few of us have been housebound by the monster snow and ice storm that covered nearly three-quarters of the United States. I’m in Texas, (on the “milder” end of things than say, Chicago), and the weather has shut down my husband’s school district for four days. Of course, in Texas where football is the state religion, temperatures are predicted to be back in the slightly less frigid high-30’s, just in time for the Superbowl.
After the first day of being stuck at home, Tuesday night just felt like pizza night. Apparently, it’s felt like that for lots of people across the country. A video posted on weather.com said pizza delivery had actually increased since the storm had descended on the states. Wow. Imagine those poor pizza delivery guys in this crazy weather. So, instead of ordering out, I’d like to suggest you try making this delicious whole-grain pie and give the pizza delivery guys a break. In honor of the history-making storm, I’m calling it Snowpalooza Pizza.
This pizza has a pepita & pecan pesto sauce, topped with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and goat cheese, all on a white whole wheat crust. The pesto recipe is from Clean Eats by Jenny Nelson, and I used the almond butter substitution since I didn’t have pepita (pumpkin seed) butter. The pesto tastes great, and you won’t miss the traditional version, typically loaded with parmesan cheese, olive oil and butter, at all.
The whole-grain crust recipe is a combination of a couple of recipes. The ingredient list is from the whole wheat pizza crust recipe in Pizza, California Style, by Norman Kolpas, but I use white whole wheat flour instead of a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat, and I substitute extra-virgin olive oil for the corn oil. The technique I use to proof the dough occurred to me after making an excellent recipe for whole wheat english muffins from the Life, In Recipes blog by Niki Fox Gardiner. Using her same method of a sponge starter with the pizza dough ingredients gave me a nicely textured and aerated crust. A part of that final texture includes stretching the dough by hand, a slower process than using a rolling pin, but for a pizza girl like me, it’s just part of the gig.
Spiced Pepita & Pecan Pesto
(recipe from the booklet Clean Eats)
3 cups basil leaves
3/4 cups pecans
2 tablespoons pumpkin seed butter (or use almond butter if you can’t find or make pumpkin seed butter)
2 large garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (adjust according to preference-I used 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (found in most health food stores)
3/4 cup water
Blend above ingredients in a blender until creamy. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and don’t be alarmed if you see that it turns brown-it’s just oxidation. Stir it up and it will turn green again, or place plastic wrap over the top when storing to prevent oxidation.
makes 2 cups
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut into thin strips
2 cups fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
1/3 cup goat cheese
Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
(adapted from the cookbook Pizza, California Style and the blog Life, In Recipes)
1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
3/4 cup warm water (between 110ºF to 115ºF degrees-use a thermometer for best results)
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in the 3/4 cup of warm water. Let it sit until it begins to foam, about 5 minutes. Measure out white whole wheat flour, mix in the salt, blend in the the olive oil, and stir into the yeast and honey mixture until well-blended. Dough will be thick and sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area for at least an hour, or up to 8 hours. As time passes, mixture should begin to bubble and expand slightly, creating the “sponge” starter.
Once the sponge has fermented and you’re ready to use it (after 1 to 8 hours), adjust oven rack to the second lowest position in the oven, and place pizza stone on rack. Preheat to 500ºF.
To finish the crust, sprinkle a flat work surface with flour. Scrape the dough from the bowl onto floured surface, then sprinkle more flour over the dough and knead until smooth, adding more flour if dough is too sticky, and roll dough into a small ball. Measure out a large piece of parchment paper, about 15″x15″, and place dough on it. Flatten the dough slightly into a disk. Starting from the center of the dough, begin to spread the dough with your fingers, pushing from the center outwards, creating a rim all around and shaping dough into a round. Continue to consistently press the dough outwards, and as you do the rim will become smaller as the circle increases in size. Press dough outwards until about 12″ to 14″ in diameter. Slide a large pizza peel underneath parchment paper and dough. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
To finish, spread about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the pesto over entire dough up to the rim. Place about 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into thin strips, over entire pizza, and sprinkle with about 1 to 1-1/2 cups of grated fresh mozzarella cheese. Scoop out goat cheese from its package and shape into several small 1/2″ rounds (around 8 or 10) and place evenly over entire pizza. Open oven door and carefully slide pizza and parchment paper onto pizza stone. Cook until cheese looks bubbly and is starting to brown slightly. Slide pizza peel underneath parchment paper and remove pizza from oven onto large cutting board or protected surface. Cut into eight slices, and smile as you anticipate the joy of eating it.
Makes one large 12″ to 14″ pizza