Pesto and Playdough

by Shannon Moloney

Suggested song to play while cooking/baking: Midnight Rambler by The Rolling Stones

Despite the fact that I cook more than I bake, I still like to bake. I like actually using my hands and putting all the ingredients together; baking gives me a chance to let out my inner mad scientist that is always clawing to add passion to precision. However, not to fool you completely, this article is not just about baking. Someday I shall share a delicious cupcake treat with you all, but in this case, I did a little combination of cooking and baking. I made pizza. Pesto pizza.

My original plan was to make the pesto from scratch, but without a food processor it’s just not the same. Plus, my laziness was not permitting me to take on that particular challenge that week. So as a compromise, I used a packaged pesto, but made the pizza dough from scratch. And so began the hunt, the online scouring for a good pizza dough recipe.

Pizza dough is really simple, involving few ingredients. I like my pizza dough crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Naturally, I choose the recipe that had the most delicious looking pictures. You can find the dough recipe and instructions here: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/homemade-pizza-crust-recipe/

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It was a fun one; part of the instructions is to knead the dough for seven minutes. Seven seems like an oddly exact yet random number, why seven? I felt like I was getting a workout. Definitely knead with music playing—you can really get into the rhythm. But what is pizza if not the toppings?

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Pesto Pizza

Pizza toppings:
1 packet of Knorr creamy pesto sauce (you’ll need olive oil and milk for this)
1 red pepper, diced
1 small jar of sun-dried tomatoes
Parmesan cheese, shredded
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Cheddar cheese, shredded

Pizza topping/baking instructions
Pre-heat your oven to 475 degrees. Cook the Knorr package according to the directions; add in the diced red pepper. Stir and cook for a few minutes, letting the pepper juices blend in with the pesto. Add in some Parmesan and stir until melted.

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Spread pesto mix across the pizza dough evenly. Top with mozzarella, cheddar, and a bit more Parmesan. Amount is up to you. Lastly top with the sundried tomatoes.

Stick in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.

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In the end, the dough was almost what I wanted. It had the exact consistency I was looking for, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. And yet, it didn’t really have any flavor. It was just plain old dough—close, but no cigar. Next time, I’d think about rubbing it down with butter and garlic. Perhaps attempting a cheese filled crust. Just needs a little more experimentation, and it could be great.

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P.S. A warning: the dough recipe makes a lot of dough, I suggested freezing half of it, or having friends over for a pizza party. I’ve been eating pizza for five days.

 Post and Photos by Shannon Moloney.

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