Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Smoked Salmon and Pesto Pizza

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love pizza. And just because I can no longer enjoy the traditional, delicious gluten-filled kind does not mean I plan to it give up. Pizza is really just an excuse to eat bread (gluten-filled or gluten free) smothered with any number of delicious ingredients, most important of which is usually cheese. A traditional Margherita pizza of fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil is perfect in its simplicity and highlights the quality of the ingredients used. Try eating a pizza made with a poor-quality canned sauce and rubbery, shredded mozzarella after you've had one with fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and a simple garnish of torn basil. Virtually impossible. If I was forced to only eat pizza Margherita for the rest of my life, I would definitely be a happy girl.

However, I do not have such restrictions, which means I have the wonderful opportunity to eat any type of pizza I want. I've experimented with different kinds of toppings (mushrooms and caramelized onions for example), new cheeses, and a variety of crusts. Now that I am gluten free, I've been trying to find a crust that tastes as much like a regular, gluten-filled crust as possible. For this most recent pizza, I used a mix from Bob's Red Mill that worked great. It was harder to work with than a gluten crust, but once I got it to cover the pan, it cooked up beatuifully. The crust and bottom of the pie crisped up nicely and the dough was a perfect balance of soft and chewy. Definitely worth a try for those gluten free folks out there.
Since I'd read a lot of great reviews of this particular crust, I was pretty sure it would be good enough to eat. The toppings, on the other hand, I wasn't as sure about. I had done a search for smoked salmon pizza on Epicurious because, for some reason, I really wanted smoked salmon. I found a couple that paired the salmon with pesto, which peaked my interest. I love pesto and I love smoked salmon so I went for it. The entire time I was making the pizza, however, I was planning my escape plan of a quick run down to Tyler's Taproom. I should probably have more confidence in myself, but every cook - no matter how good or experienced - has off days and I was afraid this might be mine.
However, my fears were totally unnecessary. The combination of creamy ricotta and pesto went perfectly with the smokey, salty taste of the salmon. Neither of the two flavors overwhelmed the other but worked together to create a very different kind of pizza. If you aren't a fan of smoked salmon, or just can't bring yourself to put it on pizza, give this pizza a try anyway and either leave the salmon off altogether or replace it with some sliced veggies or pepperoni. The ricotta, pesto blend works as a great alternative to the traditional tomato sauce, regardless of what you put on top. Make your own pesto or whip this pizza up in no time with your favorite store-bought kind.

Smoked Salmon and Pesto Pizza
  • 1 12-16 inch pizza crust (follow recipe or package instructions for cooking)
  • 3/4 cup pesto (recipe follows)
  • 3/4 part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 oz smoked salmon
  • 5 basil leaves, for garnish
Preheat oven to 450˚F (oven temperature may vary, depending on crust).
If raw, pre-cook pizza for about 10 minutes without toppings.
In a small bowl, mix pesto and ricotta cheese till fully combined.
Spread mixture over entire pizza, leaving a small crust at the border.
Cook for an additional 8-10 minutes, until spread is fully heated through.
Top hot pizza with smoked salmon pieces and torn basil leaves.

Arugula and Basil Pesto
  • 4 cups arugula (about 3 large handfuls)
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 3 tbsp lightly toasted, blanched almonds
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup olive oil (or so)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
  • Salt and pepper
In a food processor, pulse to combine arugula, basil, almonds and Parmesan.
With blade running, stream in enough olive oil to bring everything together and make a sauce. You want it looser than a paste.
Stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

For a printable recipe click here

1 comment:

  1. Did I miss something?! .. why are you going gluten free?!! .. Leila