This recipe is for a Neapolitan style pizza with a twist – pesto! Staying true to Authentic Italian cuisine, this delicious pesto is homemade in a pestle and mortar (or you could use a blender).
The perfect pesto for homemade pizza. This pesto contains fresh tomatoes and less olive oil than a regular pesto, making it ideal to be used as a base sauce on your pizza.
Makes enough pesto for 4 x 10 inch pizzas.
Keep reading for more detail and information on this recipe.
This recipe is really intended for those that already know how to make homemade pizza.
Once you have made your dough, you can prepare the pesto to be used instead of tomato sauce. The rest of the process is exactly the same.
If you need to, you can jump to the Pizza School parts on making the dough using the links below:
If you are already familiar with making dough, feel free to check out my authentic Neapolitan pizza recipe here.
Read on for more detail on making the perfect pesto for pizza!
Having tried several different pesto recipes, this recipe is the best pesto for pizza that I have found. It’s a little different to a normal pesto but lends itself very well to pizza.
I have found the best pesto for pizza to be a tomato pesto. Tomatoes are not typically used in most traditional pesto recipes. Most pesto recipes use plenty of olive oil without tomatoes.
Using fresh cherry tomatoes also provides an excellent flavour to the pesto which works really well on pizza. It adds a slightly acidic taste, a little bit of sweetness, and softens the bitterness from the basil and olive oil.
Of course, you can vary the amount of tomato you use to your liking. The recipe I provide you with is a great starting point. But feel free to experiment with more or less tomatoes, or none at all.
The main reasons why adding tomatoes make the best pesto for pizza is due to their moisture content.
The moisture from the tomatoes allows us to use less olive oil. Too much oil on a pizza can lead to a soggy pizza. Besides, we can always add some more olive oil to taste once the pizza is cooked.
I recommend adding the olive oil to the pesto at the very end. This way you can add the minimum amount of oil required to achieve the desired consistency. For this recipe, we want quite a thick pesto.
The picture below shows the finished consistency that we are looking for. It is still quite thick and chunky but thin enough to spread on the pizza.
Once you have tried this thicker pesto, you can experiment with adding a little more oil or tomatoes to achieve a slightly thinner sauce if you prefer. But starting with a thick pesto reduces our chances of ending up with a soggy pizza.
Peeling cherry tomatoes can be a real pain but this technique makes it much easier. You’ll have your tomatoes ready to make the best pesto for pizza in no time!
Use a sharp knife to cut a small slit in each cherry tomato. I like to make the slit right at the top of the tomato.
Place your cut tomatoes into a bowl and pour over boiling water to cover them. Leave them for around 60 seconds. This will soften the skin, making it easier to remove.
This will cool the tomatoes down, making them safe to handle. It will also stop the cooking process which is fine since we don’t need them cooked for the pesto.
You should now find the skins very easy to remove. Simply squeeze the tomato between your finger and thumb and you should find it releases from it’s skin with ease.
With this technique, using fresh cherry tomatoes is easy. You can now make the very best pesto for pizza without too much time or effort!
This recipe works really well as a base for pizza. Being more delicate than most pestos, and containing tomatoes, it makes an excellent option for a base sauce.
This was the reason I devised the recipe. I wanted something completely different from the regular tomato sauce.
The taste doesn’t overpower the flavour of the dough at all. Also, the pesto will typically become milder as it is cooked. For this reason, you may actually find yourself adding much more pesto to your base than you initially thought.
Having said that, I still recommend starting with just a modest amount of pesto as a base (2-3 tablespoons). Make sure your pizza doesn’t turn out soggy before experimenting with adding more.
If you prefer, you could use regular tomato sauce for the base and then add some of the pesto to it. Of course, this will make the taste of pesto much milder.
But this may be more suited to kids and those that perhaps aren’t a bit fan of basil! If you do decide to use the pesto along with a tomato sauce then I would recommend reducing the amount of tomato in the pesto.
Try to make a thicker pesto which contains less moisture. You will still need to add some olive oil but be careful. As the pesto cooks, it can make the pizza soggy if it is too thin. This is especially true when you are using it on top of a tomato sauce.
Pesto goes really well with mozzarella on pizza. The milder flavour of the pesto in this recipe compliments the mozzarella nicely and doesn’t overpower it.
You will still need to be careful with the moisture in the mozzarella. If you are using fresh mozzarella (stored in brine) then I recommend removing as much of this moisture as possible. Check out my article here where I show you how to remove the moisture form mozzarella using kitchen paper.
Watery mozzarella leads to soggy pizza, and this is no different when using pesto. If anything, you should be more careful since there is olive oil in the pesto which won’t reduce when cooked.
For this reason, I don’t add any olive oil to the pesto and mozzarella pizza before cooking. You can always add some once the pizza is cooked if you like.
If you are unsure, you can always use grated mozzarella. This type is dried already so you shouldn’t have any issues with moisture and sogginess.
While not strictly Neapolitan, I think this pesto pizza makes for a delicious change. And it still stays true to the Neapolitan style, with an authentic homemade pesto.
This recipe may not be to everyone’s taste but it’s definitely worth trying. You may just love it! I know I did.
Good luck with your pesto pizza!
I’m Tom Rothwell and I’m super passionate about all kinds of homemade pizza! In the last few years I've been on a quest to find the perfect pizza. Now I'm sharing what I've found out with the world!
I often get asked what type of oven I use for my pizzas. Well, I use a portable pizza oven made by Ooni.
In all honesty, I would say that the oven makes a huge difference. If you're looking to make authentic Italian pizza, a pizza oven is a must.
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