Moving up in the world usually means moving up the food chain too – the culinary one, that is. Cravings for Kraft Dinner have slowly been replaced by those for a decadent truffle mac & cheese, and snuggle sessions with bowls of 50¢ ramen noodles are being forgone for a night out at Momofuku. Or, at least we hope this is the case.
As nostalgic as one can wax about their college take-out pizza binges, this kind of chow just won’t cut it if you want to keep up with the foodie-frenzied upwardly mobile. But we’re not trying to rain on your parade, either, ‘cause who doesn’t love a dirty grilled cheese now and again? What we’re saying instead is, rather than abandon them altogether, simply take your go-to comfort fare off of your speed dial and into your recipe book – and voilà. You’ve landed right where you ought to be, in the upper crust and eating your pizza too. Just to show you we’re serious, here’s a notable dish to get you started.
Roasted Almond, Basil Pesto & Fresh Mozzarella Thin Crust Pizza
Vegetarian; contains gluten & dairy.
DIFFICULTY & TOTAL TIME:
Moderate; 1.5 hours.
4 x 9-inch personal sized thin-crust pizzas
If you’re going gourmet with your pie, why not grab a pretentious bottle of red to show you really mean business?
We’re pretty sure they call it thin crust for a reason. As far as pizzas go, this one is A-okay.
*All things doughy can seem daunting and mysterious, but when it comes to pizza, there are few basic tenets to abide by:
1. Be patient; allowing your dough enough time to rise is a must. The less it rises, the less soft and delicious it will be.
2. Toppings should be fresh and kept to a minimum so as not to cause your pizza to become soggy.
3. Baking temperature must be as hot as possible to ensure a crispy crust.
4. Be creative, break out of the dial-a-slice pepperoni & cheese topping bubble.
– dough –
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, additional for dusting
2 teaspoon quick-rising instant dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
– roasted almond basil pesto –
1/2 cup whole raw almonds, lightly roasted
1.5 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup good quality olive oil
salt to taste
ball of fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
20 leaves of basil
dried, ground chili peppers to taste
1. In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast and salt. With a wooden spoon, gradually stir in water and oil until a ragged dough forms, mixing manually if necessary.
2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead for about 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding up to 1/4 cup more flour, 1 tbsp at a time, if necessary.
3. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
4. In the meantime, prepare the pesto. Blend basil and cooled almonds in a food processor. Add in Parmesan cheese, pulse until mixed. Slowly integrate olive oil and salt to taste. Set aside. (Pesto can keep for a few weeks in the fridge if you continue to cover the top with olive to keep the herbs fresh).
5. Preheat oven to 550 F. Once dough has finished rising, divide it into four parts. On a lightly floured surface, roll each portion into flat circles of approximately 9-inch diameter, or until the dough is 1/4-inch thick. Transfer rolled dough to individual baking sheets or pizza pans.
6. Cover dough with a generous smear of your freshly made pesto. Top with slices of mozzarella cheese and whole basil leaves. Bake pizzas individually for 5-8 minutes, watching all the time to make sure your crust doesn’t burn. Top with crushed chili peppers and enjoy!