Trying to think of some good Lenten dinners, our old stand-by is Pizza Margherita. That traditional flavor of tomatoes, basil and cheese always does it for me, but lately, I’ve augmented my recipe just the teensiest bit and have a new love.
Previously, I always used a marinara sauce on the bottom, followed by cheese and baked in the oven. When removed, I’d add whole or chiffonaded fresh basil leaves to the top. Good. Very tasty, but not AMAZING. What made it amazing? Switching the top to the bottom and the bottom to the top. Now, I spread the pizza crust with pesto, cover with cheese and bake, adding halved fresh grape tomatoes to the pizza when it has about two minutes to go. The result? AMAZING. I promise, you won’t miss the meat.
(Above, a picture of a grilled variety of this pizza that we made last summer!)
makes 2-16″ pizzas
- One batch of your favorite pizza crust. This is my favorite yeasted crust recipe while this is my favorite sourdough recipe
- 1-1/2 cup of prepared pesto (I love Ina’s recipe, when I have a bunch of basil available, but a good quality store-bought variety is what we often use)
- 3-4 cups of grated Italian cheese blend (Parmesan, mozzarella, Fontina, etc.)
- 2 handfuls of grape tomatoes, washed and sliced in half lengthwise
Preheat your oven and baking stone (if you have one) to 500 degrees Fahrenheit (if you don’t have a stone, don’t worry, just use a pizza pan and only preheat the oven!)
Divide the dough in half and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the crust to your desired thinness and size.
If using a pizza stone:
Spread 1/4 cup of cornmeal on a baker’s peel and place the rolled out dough on top of the cornmeal. “Dress” pizza as noted below before transferring the pizza from the peel to the stone to bake.
If using a pizza pan:
Spread 1/4 cup of cornmeal on the bottom of a pizza pan and place the rolled out dough on top of the cornmeal. “Dress” pizza as noted below before transferring pan into the oven to bake.
On the prepared dough, spoon out and spread out about 3/4 cup of pesto until it reaches the edges of the pizza, covering the entire pizza with a light layer of pesto. Top with 1-1/2 to 2 cups of grated cheese, covering evenly.
Place pizza in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the crust is brown and cheese begins to brown in places on top. When it looks like it has about two minutes to go, sprinkle a handful of halved grape tomatoes on the top and return to oven.
Once baked, remove from oven and allow to cool for about five minutes before slicing.