One of my fondest food memories as a child is homemade-pizza-for-dinner night. My dad would whip up homemade pizza dough, slather it with sauce and cheese, and bake it until the house smelled like a pizzeria. In my opinion, homemade pizza is a million times better than pizza from a pizzeria… you can control what kind of crust you make, what cheese you use, what type of sauce you use, and what toppings make it onto the finished product… which means that you can cater to your family’s likes, dislikes, and preferences (half vegetarian, quarter caramelized onion, quarter sausage please!).
So for my parents’ welcome-home-from-vacation dinner, I decided to combine my two food loves – homemade pizza and pesto sauce – into the ultimate throwback comfort food dinner… Caprese Pizza.
If you have been following along on my food blogging journey, you have come to realize that pesto is pretty much one of my favorite things. It’s delicious, the perfect shade of green, and it can be used in a bunch of different ways (on sandwiches, on quesadillas, on pasta, etc.). So I decided to do a play on a traditional caprese sandwich and make a pesto pizza with a fresh tomato topping. And I think it turned out pretty well!
It starts with my foolproof pizza dough… I shared this recipe a while back but I’m re-posting some updated photos and the original recipe here (so you don’t have to scroll to find it!).
It starts with dumping some flour, some yeast, olive oil, and salt into the bowl of a standmixer.
Using the dough hook attachment, mix the flour mixture and add in enough warm water (it should be warm, not hot, or else it will kill the yeast) until a slightly sticky dough forms.
Form the dough into a ball, coat in some vegetable oil, and place in the bottom of a bowl. Cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and a clean tea towel and then set the bowl in a warm, quiet place for a couple of hours to rise.
A perfect pizza dough ball ready to rise!
After the dough has risen, it’s time to make the pizza.
Spread the dough onto a greased half-sheet pan and set aside to let it rest until the oven has come to temperature.
In place of the traditional sauce (and to mimic the caprese sandwich), dot the crust with the some pesto sauce. This is homemade, but any really, really good jarred pesto can be used.
And spread it out into a thin layer.
Then layer on some grated mozzarella cheese (the second component of a caprese sandwich).
And bake the pizza at 500 degrees for about 10-11 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the bottom of the pizza is golden brown. Let the pizza rest of a couple of minutes (because it’s very hot!).
(note – you can eat the pizza just like this if you want, but the next step really does send it over the top!)
Now all that’s left is to whip up the final (and most important) component of the caprese pizza – the fresh tomato topping.
I chopped up a bunch of Roma (or plum) tomatoes (because they don’t have a lot of liquid seed-ness inside) and dressed them up with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt.
Now that we have all the components, it’s time to eat!!
My dad cut up big wedges of pizza (just like when we were little!) and then I topped it with the fresh tomato salad.
Just like a caprese sandwich… in a homemade pizza form!
What a wonderful way to celebrate the two foods that I love the most (and to relive some good childhood memories). Enjoy, kiddos!
Your pesto lovin’, homemade pizza makin’ friend,
- For the dough:
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 packets active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Warm water
- Vegetable oil
- For the pizza:
- ¼ cup pesto
- 1-lb part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated – can use less if desired
- For the fresh tomato salad:
- 5-6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, dump in the flour, yeast, olive oil, and salt and mix until combined. With the mixer on, slowly pour in warm water (not hot, or else you will kill the yeast and the bread won’t rise) until a slightly sticky dough ball forms.
- Form the dough into a ball, lightly coat in vegetable oil and place it into a bowl. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap and cover with a clean tea towel. Set the bowl in a warm, quiet place for 2-3 hours.
- Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees. While the oven is pre-heating, turn out the dough onto a greased half-sheet pan (or a cookie sheet with high sides) and stretch it out/spread it out using your fingers. Set the dough aside to rest until the oven reaches temperature.
- When the oven is pre-heated, spread the pizza dough with the pesto, leaving a 1-inch border on the edges. Cover the pizza with the grated cheese. Bake the pizza for 10-11 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Set aside for 1-2 minutes to cool slightly.
- In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt. Toss to combine.
- To serve – cut the pizza into wedges and top with some of the tomato mixture. Enjoy!