I love pizza. Like really, really love it. Because I tend to prefer crazy, out-there, and somewhat exotic foods to mainstream foods(burgers, chicken fingers, grilled cheese), that might surprise you. But the thing is, I don’t just like any pizza.
Dominoes? Meh, the cardboard box probably tastes better.
Georgetown Dining Hall (a.k.a. Leo’s)? Burnt crust.
Tuscany’s in DC? Whatevs.
Pizza Paradiso (in DC)? Too pricey for what you get.
But homemade pizza is different. It’s customizably delicious, and I’ve taken to craving it whenever I’m away from home. As a family, we’ve made everything from Pear & Gorgonzola, Thai Peanut Chicken, and BBQ Chicken varieties a la California Pizza Kitchen. But prior to this Mediterranean pizza, we mainly stuck to copycats. Then, this pizza came along. It was a game-changer.
It doesn’t sound all that exotic, but something about the combination of flavors—olives, artichokes, cherry tomatoes, and fresh pesto—takes things to a whole ‘nother level.
Like other homemade pizzas, there is some prep time involved, but don’t be daunted—the end result is worth it.
We use Trader Joe’s Herbed Pizza Dough because a) it saves time and b) it’s simply superb/better than any other dough, homemade or otherwise, that we’ve tried. If you don’t have a TJ’s near you, you could try Whole Foods or your regular grocer. Just don’t skip any of the components, including making the homemade pesto. It’s a little time consuming, but oh-so-AMAZINGLY-delicious.
Mediterranean Dreamin’ Pizza
Adapted from the LA Times’ Culinary SOS on Café del Ray
I’ve tried my fair share of pizza—both in restaurants, from take out places, and at home—but this one takes the cake. The mixture of the garlicky pesto, melty cheese, salty olives, and sweet tomatoes makes this pizza simply amazing. While it takes a little bit of time to prepare (like most other homemade pizzas), it has quickly become my favorite!
1 Trader Joes’s pizza dough (or homemade/storebought if you can’t find this)
2 cups spaghetti or pizza sauce, reduced***
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp pine nuts (toasted)
pinch red chile flakes
2 tbsp parmesan, grated
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups packed basil leaves
1 cup shredded mozzarella
¼ cup crumbled feta
2/3 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
¾ cup olives
1 small jar artichoke hearts, sliced in half
***For the sauce, we use Prego Heart Smart. Because spaghetti sauce is more watery than pizza sauce, we put it in a strainer lined with a coffee filter for at least 1 hour (or as long as overnight). This drains some of the water from the sauce, resulting in a thicker consistency that will ensure that your pizza doesn’t come out soggy.
1) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Follow instructions for prepping pizza dough. (For the TJ’s one, we take the dough out of the fridge and let it rest on the counter for 15 minutes before stretching it out onto a circular pan.
2) To make the pesto, place the garlic cloves, pine nuts, chili flakes, parmesan, olive oil, and basil leaves in a food processor. Blend until a smooth paste is formed.
3) On your prepared pizza dough, spread the sauce evenly, being careful to not put too much in the middle. Then, layer pizza ingredients in this order: mozzarella, feta, tomatoes, olives, and artichokes.
4) Bake for 10-15 minutes. Drizzle pesto over pizza before serving.