Fresh Tomato and Basil Pesto Pizza

When we went to Italy two years ago we had some fabulous pizza. But I can honestly say mine is just as good. I am going to let you in on a not so big secret… dough matters, using a stone matters and setting your oven at a really high temp matters…that’s it! The details for the best thin crust pizza are below but before we get there, let’s discuss this particular pizza!

I decided to sneak this Fresh Tomato Basil Pesto Pizza onto the blog before tomatoes disappear from summer gardens. Not my garden mind you…I can’t to seem grow anything but herbs. So while I may not have tomatoes, I have plenty of aromatic basil on hand to make pesto!

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This pizza is topped with vine ripened tomatoes, freshly made basil pesto, creamy mozzarella and homemade dough.

Fresh Tomato Basil Pizza

The perfect pizza arsenal: a pizza stone, a paddle, a rolling pin, a pizza cutter and corn meal…the corn meal is a must! Find out why below.

Once you have the right tools you need a great dough! So we start from scratch. Mixing flour, yeast, water, salt and honey…

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…kneading till smooth and elastic…

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…and allowing it to rise either for an hour and 15 minutes on the counter or…

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…over the course of two days in the fridge. Allowing the dough to ‘slow ferment’ gives the dough additional flavor and body. I have done it both ways and agree allowing the dough to rise slowly is the best method. But when in a pinch I have used it after rising on the counter for just over an hour and it’s delicious too.

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Roll…the shape can be less than perfect and that’s ok!

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Place dough on a pizza paddle covered with corn meal and top with basil pesto, fresh mozzarella packed in water and tomatoes.

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Placing corn meal on the paddle allows the pizza to slide off the paddle…trust me, you don’t want to forget this step!

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Nine minutes later you have an incredible crispy thin crust pizza!

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The Recipe: Homemade Pizza Dough

Tips and what you will need:  (affiliate links) Allowing dough to rise slowly over two days is recommended but you can also do a ‘fast’ method. Just know that either way the dough needs to rise for an hour and 15 minutes at the very least! There are a few things you need for really great pizza, a rolling pin, a ceramic pizza stone, a pizza paddle, corn meal and a pizza slicer.

Homemade Pizza Dough

Yield 2 pizzas

Note: You can make your dough and allow to rise slowly over two days in the fridge, or use an hour after kneading if left on the counter.

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups bread flour (separated)
  • 1 ¾ tsp instant dry yeast
  • 2 tsp honey
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ T olive oil
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • Corn meal (for use on the pizza paddle)

Instructions

  1. Measure out 1 ¾ cups flour.
  2. Place 1/2 cup of the premeasured flour into a separate large bowl.
  3. Add water, yeast and honey to bowl.
  4. Whisk and set aside for 5 minutes.
  5. After the mixture has rested for five minutes, add salt, garlic powder, and olive oil.
  6. Whisk until combined. Add remaining flour one half cup at a time and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula.
  7. When dough is combined, use your hands to knead into a dough ball.
  8. Turn out on a generously floured surface and knead for 6-8 minutes, adding small amounts of flour to surface until dough stops sticking to your hands and counter.
  9. As soon as dough no longer sticks to hands or counter, stop adding flour.
  10. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.
  11. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
  12. After the fifteen minutes is up, cut the dough ball in half for two 9″ thin crust pizzas.
  13. If you are using the dough right away, let it rise for another hour and then roll out and top with your favorite toppings.
  14. Or you can brush dough with a little olive oil, place dough ball(s) into quart size baggies, or a glass bowl covered with plastic and let rise in the fridge for two days. Then follow directions below for rolling and topping dough.

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Cuisine Italian

The Recipe: Homemade Tomato Basil Pizza

Tips: Use the dough recipe above. If you just aren’t interested in homemade dough, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market have fresh dough for sale everyday. Just roll it out and follow directions below. To see a video tutorial on how to make fresh basil pesto, click!

Fresh Tomato Basil Pizza

Cook

Total

Yield 2 pizzas

Use dough prepared in advance. Makes two 9″ thin crust pizzas

Ingredients

Pizza Dough (if made two days ahead, allow to sit on counter a ½ hour before rolling)

  • Fresh pesto
  • 6-8 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 16 oz fresh Mozzarella (packed in water) thinly sliced, and pressed firmly between two paper towels to remove extra water.
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

Basil Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. When dough is ready, place pizza stone in cold oven with oven rack in bottom position. Turn heat to 450 degrees and allow stone to heat for at least a half hour before placing dough on stone.

Pesto Prep:

  1. Pulse garlic in food processor.
  2. Add basil leaves, cheese, salt, pepper and pine nuts.
  3. Puree in processor, slowly adding olive oil till desired consistency. To store extra pesto simply place in s a small container, drizzle olive oil over pesto to completely cover (prevents oxidation) and cover. It will last up to a week in the fridge.

Pizza prep:

  1. On a floured surface, use rolling pin to roll pizza dough into 8-9 inch pie.
  2. Place dough on pizza paddle covered with a thin layer of corn meal.
  3. The corn meal allows the pizza to slide off paddle and onto stone.
  4. Spread a thin layer of fresh basil pesto on dough leaving 1” around the edge for crust.
  5. Place sliced fresh mozzarella cheese on top of pesto and then add a layer of thinly sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with sea salt and red pepper flakes.
  6. Bake for 8-9 minutes or until crust is crispy.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to sit for a minute before slicing. Repeat with second pizza.

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Cuisine Italian

For my Grilled Veggie Pizza recipe visit this post. Grazi for stopping by! And please share on social media and pin! ~ Linda Spiker

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