Thin slices of zucchini stand in for mozzarella, while onions, kalamata olives, pine nuts, pesto, and fresh basil give this Summer Pesto Pizza more than ample flavor and variety.
Summer Pesto Pizza [Vegan]
3 - 4
For the Pizza:
- Whole-wheat pastry flour, for rolling out the dough
- One ball 100 percent whole wheat pizza dough (recipe below) or 1 pound store-bought dough
- Cornmeal, for dusting
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup good-quality marinara sauce or spicy heirloom tomato sauce (recipe below)
- 1 large zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into eight slices
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
For the Pesto:
- 4 cups packed fresh basil
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Toppings:
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- 1/4 cup packed thinly sliced fresh basil
- Garlic powder (optional)
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
For the Spicy Heirloom Tomato Sauce:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
- 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 6 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes (quartered if you are not peeling them)
- 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil
For the Whole Wheat Pizza Dough:
- 1/4 cup bulgur
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
To Make the Pizza:
- Position a rack on the bottom of the oven and if using a pizza stone, place it on the rack. Preheat the oven to 500°F for at least 30 minutes so that the stone is hot.
- Lightly flour a work surface and a rolling pin. Shape the dough by patting it into a flat, round disk. Then roll it out on the work surface to form a 14-inch round, 1/8-1/4-inch thick. If your pizza stone is smaller than this, adjust accordingly.
- If using a pizza peel or pizza pan, generously dust it with cornmeal (alternatively, use a large baking sheet and dust it with cornmeal).
- Transfer the dough to the prepared pizza peel, pan, or baking sheet. Brush the dough lightly with about 1 tbsp of the oil, leaving a 3/4-inch border unoiled.
- Cover the dough with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Arrange the zucchini slices in concentric circles on the dough, leaving the 3/4-inch border bare. Arrange the onion atop the zucchini, and then scatter the olives over the dough.
- Slide the pizza off the peel and onto the preheated stone, using a jerking motion to release it. (Alternatively, place the pizza pan or baking sheet in the oven.) Bake for 8 minutes.
- Check to see that the pizza is cooking evenly, rotating it if necessary. Continue cooking until the crust is golden brown and the toppings are sizzling hot, 3-5 minutes more.
To Make the Pesto:
- Put the basil, oil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, then puree until the mixture is smooth, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. If not using immediately, cover and store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Return the pesto to room temperature before using.
- Remove the pizza from the oven by sliding the peel under it, or use tongs to slide the pizza off the stone onto a cutting board. (If using a pizza pan or baking sheet, remove the entire pan from the oven and transfer the pizza onto a cutting board.) Using half the pesto, immediately drop teaspoons of pesto all over the top. Spread it over the topping with the back of a spoon or with a cake spatula. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and basil.
- Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut the pizza into eight slices, and serve them hot with garlic powder and red pepper flakes, if using.
To Make the Spicy Heirloom Sauce:
- Heat the oil in a large, nonreactive pot over medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it softens but does not brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, another 2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes, cover the pot, and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes are soft, about 10 minutes.
- Using a potato masher, mash the tomatoes to break up the chunks.
- Add the tomato paste and ½ tsp salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency, 30 to 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the basil and simmer for 2 minutes more. Remove the pot from the heat. The sauce can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 week, and frozen for up to 1 year.
To Make the Whole-Wheat Pizza Dough:
- Combine the bulgur with the boiling water in a small bowl and cover with a plate to keep warm. Let sit for 10 minutes to soften.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115°F) with the yeast and sugar. Whisk to combine and let the mixture rest until it is foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Drain the bulgur in a fine-mesh sieve, discarding the water. Add the bulgur to the yeast mixture along with the oil and salt. Stir in 1 cup of the whole-wheat flour and 1 cup of the whole-wheat pastry flour. Whisk vigorously for 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the remaining 3/4 cup of both flours. Lightly flour a work surface with whole-wheat pastry flour. Transfer the dough to the prepared work surface and knead it until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
- Oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it so that it is lightly coated with the oil. Cover the bowl with a towel, and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
- Gently punch down the dough to deflate it, cover the bowl, and let it rise again until doubled in size, 30-45 minutes. Divide the dough into three balls and you’re ready to make pizza. If you are making only one pizza, you can wrap two balls in plastic wrap and freeze them for up to 2 months. The balls defrost in the refrigerator overnight or on the kitchen counter in about 2 hours. Bring the dough to room temperature before using.
Note on Peeling Tomatoes: Cut a small X in the bottom of each tomato. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set aside. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add four or five tomatoes to the pot and cook until the skins begin to wrinkle and split, 30 to 90 seconds. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to the bowl of ice water. Let the water in the pot return to a boil, and continue blanching the remaining tomatoes in small batches. If the water in the bowl gets warm, add more ice. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, pull off the skins with your fingers; they should come off easily.