Arugula Pesto Pizza with Prosciutto

>> Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Arugula Pesto Pizza with Prosciutto

I thought I had tried every possible permutation of pesto, until my friend made me pesto with arugula leaves instead of herbs. She then used it as the sauce of a pizza and she just went on breaking all the recipe norms until I just had to sit back in her garden chair, sip some home-brewed beer, and trust that it would all come together.

Oh, it truly did come together. Talea puts together fabulous food creations, and her husband Larry is the founder of Zumbier, a local brewery in Waukegan.

Well, I didn't spend all my time watching the butterflies and petting her dear labrador Luna. I also spent some time napping on her hammock while she read in the sun. Oh summer, I miss you.

This pizza has enough bold flavor from peppery arugula and luscious prosciutto to satisfy you when winter is seeping into your bones, but is fresh and bright like a summer day. Or maybe I just think like that because I first ate it on a bright summer day in my friend's garden, watching the butterflies flutter over the flowers and soaking in the sun.

Pizza and beer at the Blooms

I would really like to soak up some sun right now. With a slice of pesto pizza and creamy fresh mozzarella, please.


For the Arugula Pesto

3 garlic cloves
2 cups arugula leaves, de-stemmed and chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Pizza Dough

1 envelope (2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 120 degrees)
1/2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups flour, plus a little more for kneading
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 cup cold water
2 tbsp coarse cornmeal

For the Toppings

1/4 lb thinly sliced prosciutto
6 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced or thinly sliced
1/3 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 tbsp sliced green olives
1 tbsp capers
1 1/2 tbsp basil leaves, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil

Pesto pizza with Italian Ham


Pour the yeast into a small bowl, and slowly add the warm water, stirring constantly. Stir in the sugar. Allow the yeast to work into small bubbles for about 5 minutes. Stir in the oil.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together half the flour and salt. Make a hollow in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir until well mixed. Stir in the cold water. Gradually add the rest of the flour while stirring constantly, until the dough forms a ball.

Sprinkle a flat surface with flour, and put flour on your hands. Knead the dough on the surface until smooth and elastic and no longer sticky, about 15 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl. Turn the dough over and cover it with a damp kitchen towel. Allow it to rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Place the pesto ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides often. Set aside.

Punch down the dough and place it on the floured surface. Knead it for several minutes until elastic again.  Roll it out into a circle of about 1/4 inch thickness. Grease a round pan and sprinkle it with the cornmeal. Place the dough in the pan and cover it with the kitchen towel. Allow it to rise for 30 more minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spread the pesto on the dough to within 1/2" of the edge of the crust. Arrange the mozzarella and peppers on the dough. Place the prosciutto over the crust, then sprinkle with the olives, capers, and basil. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the crust is crisp and the pizza is cooked through.

Serves 4-6.


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