Originally posted April 2011 (porting over from an ancient blog...)
I love cooking at home, but in all reality, I, like everyone else, do not always feel like, or have the time to cook something that is going to take any significant amount of effort.
One of my favorite things to make on these lazier nights, is some variation on a pesto pizza.
Disclaimer: While this post may at times read as an endorsement for Trader Joe's, I can't help it... I shopped there. Get over it.
A good pizza obviously consists of a combination of three basic elements, done well:
Here are my favorites in each of those categories:
a. Pillsbury makes a crust that is rolled into one of those handy-dandy cans they sell their rolls and biscuits in. The crusts come in regular or thin crust options, and they are incredibly quick and easy to use, and have a rich, buttery flavor that caramelizes very nicely on the bottom. Downside? Not the healthiest option, just the quickest and easiest.
b. Trader Joe's Whole Wheat dough is found in the refrigerated/ pre-made foods section of the store. This dough takes about 20 minutes to rise, and requires that you stretch or roll it to your desired thickness and shape, but this extra prep times leaves you with a sweet and hearty crust that caramelizes on the bottom, and leaves you feeling better about what you ate than the buttery goodness provided by the Pillsbury option. This crust comes in herb and regular/plain flavor as well, but I prefer the whole wheat option.
c. Last night my lovely friend Jamie introduced me to an amazingly flavorful, hearty and more dense crust option. Vicolo's pre-made Cornmeal Crusts are from right here in San Francisco, and typically come in a pack of 2 of the crusts.
I'm partial to pesto sauce, but if I am going with a tomato base, I keep it simple with some tomato paste thinned out with some olive oil and cooked down to get rid of some of the raw tomato flavor. In regard to pestos, I have 2 current favorites for when I am going the store-bought route:
a. Trader Giovanni's (Trader Joe's) pesto comes in a jar and is found where you would find spaghetti sauce, as it is not refrigerated. This option is very affordable, has a great flavor, and is easy to spread across your uncooked (or cooked) dough. The one downside is that it has more oil than some other options.
b. Buitoni's Reduced Fat Pesto with Basil is a refrigerated option which can be found in most grocery stores. It has a great flavor, less oil and fat than the TJ's option, but is slightly more expensive, for a smaller amount of pesto. Being that it is in the refrigerated section, it can be much more difficult to spread across uncooked dough. However, I have found that if I put small spoonfuls across the dough, rather than bothering with spreading the pesto, and when baking, it does disperse across the dough.
A list of my favorites, combine them as you see fit!
-Sundried tomatoes (dry, not packed in oil).
-Chopped asparagus (ideally with goat cheese) is hands down my favorite topping. No need to cook before placing on the pizza, the oven will do all the work for you!
-Goat cheese... the best.
-Figs (if you are using fresh, I suggest lightly salting and placing on paper towels for 20 minutes before placing on your pizza, so as to draw out some of the moisture that will make for a soggy pizza).
-Pancetta (ideally from Boccalone)!
Enjoy your pizza right out of the oven, and freeze any extra in a freezer bag to take to work or to have for a quick dinner on another night. Just be sure to heat in the oven or a toaster oven, so you do not end up with a flabby pizza. No one likes a flabby pizza!
toast to reheat
drew bailey scott
My raison d'etre: Seeking and experiencing that which improves my life in all areas. The purpose of this blog: to share those incredible discoveries with others, hopefully making their lives even better!