“Pesto” the name itself comes from the Latin root “pestle,” which is typically fitting as the sauce, in its simplest form, its made by crushing a few key savory ingredients together. There are two forms of pesto sauce that are commonly used… pesto alla genovese and pesto alla siciliana. Both forms of pesto sauce are from Genoa and Sicily, respectively.
Pesto alla genoese is made with garlic, salt, extra virgin olive oil, Pecorino Sardo cheese, and Genoese basil. (Note that Genoese basil is just one member of the large basil family.) The recipe for pesto alla siciliana is similar, but with tomatoes and less basil. Most accept the fact that the Genoese recipe for pesto, was the original recipe.
Pesto sauces are typically made with a veriety of different ingredients and have been part of Italian cuisines since Roman times. In addition to the well known two basic pesto recipes, other variations include red bell peppers, sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, walnuts, parmesan cheese, and ricotta cheese. In fact, some pesto sauces are made with arugula instead of basil.
Pesto is a very versatile sauce and can be used as a bruschetta topping, on pasta, on cooked meats, and even in soups. Of course today we’ll be using pesto sauce for our pizza. A lovely way to explore pesto sauces is to buy a few different kinds, and make a platter of pesto bruschetta using each sauce… then decide which sauce suits your fancy for your favorite pizza pie.
By the way, most basil plants grow year after year and will increase in size if they are planted in nourishing soil.
While the herb is delicious to eat fresh from the bush in salads or as a pasta topping, it can also be used delightfully in the form of a pesto sauce as you’ll see today.
HomePizzaChef’s Premier Pesto Pizza
- 1 1/2 cups (packed) stemmed spinach leaves
- 1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves (about 1 bunch)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons oil from oil?packed sun?dried tomatoes or olive oil
- 1 large garlic clove
- Olive Oil (of course…)
- Your favorite thin pizza crust recipe (see many crust recipes on this site)
- 1/3 cup sliced drained oil?packed sun?dried tomatoes
- 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 8 ounces)
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Alternative Pesto Recipe
- * 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- * 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- * 1/2 cup Olive oil
- * 3 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
- * 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
Blend first 4 ingredients in processor to coarse puree. Transfer pesto to small bowl. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead.)
Now… To Make The Pizza…
Preheat oven to 500F. Grease 12 inch pizza pan with olive oil. Arrange dough in pan and spread all of pesto over dough.
Sprinkle with sun?dried tomatoes…then your favorite cheeses.
Occasionally I’ll add a sprinkle of Italian sausage for extra taste.
Bake pizza until crust browns and cheese melts.