Pesto pita pizza — try saying that three times fast!
I usually think of pesto as a summer-time sauce because one of the main ingredients is basil which I grow in a container outside in warm weather. Though it’s the dead of winter (a winter I’m getting awfully tired of), I bought some basil for another recipe recently and the leftover basil seemed to be begging me to make it into pesto. And, since a Mediterranean restaurant in town has recently started selling delicious pita bread that they make on site, I thought I would combine the pita bread and pesto into a pizza. Pita pizzas couldn’t be simpler to make and they make great appetizers or mini-meals. I’ve made several versions recently.
Pita Pesto Pizza
- 1 pita bread — do not split open
- spoonful of pesto sauce (recipe below)
- shredded mozzarella cheese (enough to cover the pita — perhaps about 1/2 cup)
- garlic salt (optional)
- any toppings that sound good to you
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread pesto sauce to cover all but the edges of the pita bread. Add garlic salt if your pesto isn’t particularly garlic-y and you like a lot of garlic flavor. Spread shredded mozzarella cheese over the top of the pesto. Add any toppings you desire. I made this pizza for Charlie, so I just used cheese. If I were making it for myself, I definitely would have added olives because I adore them. Place pizza on a baking pan in the oven for about 8 minutes or until the cheese is melted and yummy looking.
I mentioned that I made this pizza for Charlie. In the effort of full disclosure because I think parents of picky eaters should be truthful with one another about what they can get their kids to eat, Charlie only ate one bite. I think it was the green of the pesto that threw him. In the past, I’ve made pita pizza for him with a basic tomato sauce and I’ve made a “white” pizza with just olive oil and garlic salt spread on the pita before adding the mozzarella cheese. He’s eaten both of those. Oh, and there was one disastrous attempt to make “barbeque chicken pita pizza.” I put barbeque sauce on the pita, added finely chopped chicken and onion, and topped it with mozzarella cheese. Even Mark didn’t want to eat that.
Here’s a recipe for pesto.
There are many, many recipes for pesto. I didn’t use any kind of recipe when I made mine because I’ve made pesto so often that I feel pretty comfortable just kind of winging it. But, here’s a basic recipe and know you may adjust the amounts of all the ingredients to suit your tastes. In fact, I didn’t have enough basil when I made the pesto for the pizza, so I substituted quite a lot of baby spinach for the basil. It tasted great.
- 2 cups basil, loosely packed
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 garlic clove (you may add more garlic, of course, but I suggest starting with one clove and tasting it before you add more — I’ve ruined pesto by adding too much garlic)
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- salt, to taste
Combine all ingredients into a food processor or blender, using only 1/4 cup of the extra virgin olive oil, and let ‘er whirl. While the food processor is going, gently stream in the remaining olive oil. Keep streaming olive oil until you get the consistency you like. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired.
Pesto can be frozen. It does, however, have a tendency to lose its gorgeous green color and take on a sort of brownish hue. It still tastes good, it just doesn’t look as pretty. If this color change bothers you, my friend Jon just told me that if you drizzle a bit of olive oil onto the top of the pesto right before you put it in the freezer, it prevents the pesto from discoloring. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s certainly worth a try. Also, pine nuts have a tendency to go rancid pretty quickly. To extend their life, I store them in the freezer.
I usually like to create a tally for recipes I post on this site so you’ll know how much it costs to reproduce the recipe at home. I’m not really sure how to tally this recipe because of the pesto sauce. In fact, I’m not going to bother trying to tally the ingredients for the pesto sauce because I bought the pine nuts quite awhile ago and I don’t have any documentation of how much they cost. I’ll do my best tallying the pita pizza.
pita bread: $.50 ($1.99 for a pack of four)
mozzarella cheese: $.62 (2 snack sticks from a 12-pack for $3.69)
pesto: hmm, this is where I’m really going to make this up. How about $.50? I think that’s over-estimating though.
Grand total: $1.62
If you like crispy pizza, try cutting the pita bread in half (so that it’s still round, but thinner).