Pesto, pecan, mozzarella, basil and goat cheese pizza is the most universally LOVED pizza to ever come out of my pizza oven. I know. I was surprised too. Here's how to make this delicious pesto pizza.
I am a pizza purist. Tomato sauce, pepperoni and cheese. I do not want cauliflower, broccoli or cantaloupe on my pizza. Not that there's anything wrong with those things but let's face it - there is.
Pizza isn't just any food that you can do whatever you want to in order to make it cooler or trendy.
PIZZA IS AN INSTITUTION.
It should be treated with reverence and respect.
Sun-ripened plum tomatoes, basil leaves plucked from their stems, shimmering with morning dew, dots of melty, browning cheese. This is pizza.
Sure you can add things other than tomato sauce and cheese. Of course you can. You can even have pineapple and ham on it if you want - but you're making yourself look kind of suspicious when you do that. God knows what you do to your other foods. Eat cereal with water? Stir soup with your toes? I mean who knows what kind of lunacy you're up to.
Having made my point clear - I respect and revere classic pizza - I can now add the exception to my "weird pizza is unnecessary" rule.
Just having pesto on pizza isn't necessarily unconventional. But the combination of ingredients on this pesto pizza isn't something you would have seen on Jughead's slice of pizza for example.
Table of Contents
- Goat Cheese
To make it, just press out your dough like I show you in my Perfect Pizza at Home post. And yes. You can use a store bought pizza crust as long as it's actual pizza dough that you form yourself. Not one of those precooked rounds. That is where I draw the line.
O.K. fine you can use a precooked and shaped crust.
Slap on a layer of homemade or store-bought pesto. (I use my garlic scape pesto.)
With the pesto you get flavours of basil, olive oil, garlic, parmesan and pine nuts.
Top the pesto with some blobs of goat cheese. And yes the goat cheese is important because of the tang it has.
Of course if the thought of goat cheese makes you green, then just skip it. Again, though, you're acting suspicious.
Add one handful of mozzarella cheese and the all-important PECANS. They toast while the pizza is cooking and add deep nuttiness to the pizza along with some unexpected crunch that's deeply satisfying.
The basil and honey get added after the pizza is cooked.
Cook your pizza either in a pizza oven or (more realistically) in your regular oven using the directions and steps I give in my Perfect Pizza at Home post.
At this point, you might decide you're jealous of my pizza oven. You're maybe even a bit angry at me for having one when you, on the other hand, do not have one. That's O.K. and understandable.
I made my pizza oven 5 years ago. By myself. And you can make one too. Here's how to build a cob pizza oven.
As soon as you slide your pizza out of the oven, sprinkle the top with pieces of torn or cut basil.
Then - and THIS is what MAKES THIS PIZZA IRRESISTIBLE - drizzle it with honey.
Make sure you twirl that honey all around, letting it seep into the nooks and crannies of your crust.
So how did this wondrous pizza combination come about?
I was having a pizza party a couple of years ago and told everyone that there wouldn't be a pesto pizza on the menu for the night. I made this decision based on the fact that whenever I made pesto pizza everyone seemed to avoid it, choosing the rich tomato sauced pizzas instead.
I mean, I thought I was being smart. If these assheads weren't going to eat my delicious homemade pesto, I wasn't going to waste it on them.
This announcement was met with resistance. If I'm being honest, it was more of a rebellion with fists smashing on tables and people spontaneously snarling like dogs.
So I went inside, took out a few containers of my homemade pesto (recipe for that pesto here) and let my friend Andrea's daughter make a pesto pizza. Her daughter Sage is a grown woman. And a chef. So I wasn't really taking a lot of chances on handing the task over to her.
I can't remember who came up with the combination of pecans, honey and fresh basil but I suspect it was her. Since that night I've called this pizza The Sage in honour of her, which confuses people to no end, what with the pizza containing no Sage whatsoever.
I'd consider adding a few slices of Sage if she ever told me she liked pineapple and ham on her pizza.
Cooking pizza in your oven
If you don't know how to cook a REALLY good pizza in your home oven you need to read this post about how to cook pizza in your oven. I scoffed at this method for a while but tried it out, perfected it a bit and now I can say it rivals my wood oven cooked pizza. It doesn't involve a pizza stone or a baking sheet. Just a cast iron pan.
Cooking in a pizza oven
If you have a pizza oven, chances are you know how to cook pizza in it but for those who are just considering building their own wood fired pizza oven this is how it works.
- Start your fire in the middle of your pizza oven about 3 hours before you'd like to serve the pizza.
- Keep the fire hot and big, feeding it every half hour or as needed.
- After the oven is up to temperature (around 900F) push all the ash and coals to the back or side of the oven.
- Wipe the bottom of the oven floor with a wet rag tied to a pole. This cleans the floor and also adds some steam to the oven.
- Build your pizza right on a pizza peel just before putting it into the oven. I use a piece of parchment paper under my pizza dough on the peel. This prevents sticking. The parchment can be pulled out from under the pizza once it's been in the oven for a minute or so.
- Slide your pizza (and parchment paper if using) into the middle of the oven and rotate it as it cooks so all sides get licked by the fire. Your parchment will probably go up in flames around the edge. That's O.K.
- Before pulling the pizza out, using your pizza peel, lift it up to near the dome of the oven. This will help get any toppings nice and crispy and brown and bubble the cheese a bit.
- 250 grams pizza dough
- ⅓ cup pesto store bought or homemade
- 2 oz goat cheese
- 1 oz mozzarella cheese shredded
- 2 tablespoon pecan pieces more or less as desired
- 6 basil leaves torn or cut
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Pull your 250 gram ball of dough into a disk and top with pesto.
- Scatter blobs of goat cheese around pizza.
- Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.
- Scatter pecan pieces across the top of the pizza.
- Bake until done.
- Remove the pizza from the oven and then immediately top with fresh torn basil and a good drizzle of honey across the entire pizza.
Your pizza night will never be the same.
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I am making this tonight, but adding sliced fresh figs and Mike's Hot Honey...gonna be YUM-O!!!
Karen, remember me? The loon who built a pizza oven in her back yard? I don't really know if you Canadians use "loon" that way. Isn't it your national bird, maybe? Anyway. My favorite pizza of all time has broccoli as its star ingredient, but hear me out! The experience that got me started on my pizza obsession was this. I was hired as the pastry chef for the W Hotel in Westwood, a swanky boutique hotel. For some reason, I was also in charge of making all the pizzas. This was literally half my job, since the two restaurants plus a night club plus room service were all very demanding of pizzas. I resented it. "I'm a pastry chef, not a pizzaiola goddammit!" but it was my job. So I decided if I was going to have to make damn pizzas I'd make great damn pizzas. I couldn't get a reservation at the hottest spot in town, Pizzeria Mozza, because it was literally the hardest reservation to get in all of Los Angeles and environs. So I took my daughter and we arrived at 11:15 am and waited for the doors to open for lunch at noon. We got a spot and ordered. My genius daughter ordered the "long-cooked broccoli" and cacciocavallo pizza with chilis and garlic. It was so good I was confused. It was the most interesting food I'd ever eaten, and in a good way. I was completely absorbed in eating this pizza. Flash forward to when I had mastered my own dough and built my own oven: I made my own version of this pizza using slow-cooked broccoli and garlic confit (heavenly; you should make garlic confit, and I can give you the recipe) with gruyere cheese, chili flakes, and, in the role of sauce, plain whipped cream. The broccoli is tender and yielding, which a lot of people just assume they won't like because they always think they like broccoli to be "crisp-tender" but they are wrong in this case. The sweet nuttiness of the broccoli comes out when it's gently but thoroughly cooked like this. The garlic confit is whole cloves of gently-cooked garlic that are meltingly tender. The gruyere is actually better than the cacciocavallo cheese on this pizza. Chili flakes bring the heat as usual. It's stunning! Oh, do try it pretty please? My second favorite pizza is clam. I use canned clams and cream and white wine and garlic and oregano and chili flakes. You sweat the garlic, oregano and chili flakes in olive oil for a half a minute, then add the clam juice, wine and cream, reduce until syrupy and thick, then add in the actual clams and it's done. This is the entire pizza topping. No cheese or sauce. This is a magic pizza. You are free to sprinkle with parsley after for color.
Okay, you made me do it. This sounds amazing and it will probably end up as a semi-homemade meal this week. Meaning, doctored up frozen cheese pizza. Because...three kids. And sports. But fall is coming and you reminded me of my favorite pizza ever. I mean, depending on the season. Check it out. And add some pears and candied bacon next time.
I would never had thought of putting honey on pizza, but this actually looks really good!
I started making pesto with pecans when I ran out of pine nuts. I had peanuts - but peanut pesto? I think not. I will surely try honey and pecans on my next homemade pizza. Thx
I’m going to make pizza dough tomorrow and make the pesto, goat cheese & honey pizza. I’m not sure if I have extra pecans - I have almonds and cashews and peanuts, but I don’t think they really sound like the right nut. Well, also pine nuts, come to think of it. Those would work just fine! Thanks for the reminder, Karen!!
Made the pizza last night. We added a drizzle of balsamic glaze as well. Absolutely sinful. Move over chicken pest pizza, this is our new favorite! Thank you for posting the recipe.
Oh, I'm glad you tried it and liked it! Thanks for letting me know! ~ karen
Made this last night, it was so good!! We used it as our dessert pizza, our main course pizza used your pizza sauce recipe which we make all the time now. Thanks for the recipes!
Thanks for rating it Denise! That helps a lot for my site. I'm happy you liked it. It really is everyone's favourite when they come. :) ~ karen!
OMG! I don't like to use that term, but that's what I said when I had my first bite.
This recipe is amazingly simple and good. I did cheat and used a higher-end pre-made flat crust, but kept everything else the same -- even the Garlic Scape Pesto.
I have a beautiful Basil plant, and it will be happy to know how much more I appreciate fresh basil!
I'm so glad you liked it! And came back to review it, lol. And really glad you made the garlic scape pesto! ~ karen
Sometimes I just make stuff I know my husband would veto if I asked first if he would like it. So I quit asking. Anyway, this was some of that stuff since I knew I would get the third grader stank face when he found out it had h-o-n-e-y on it. Girl... did he not get up and take his slice - OK, SLICES - to get more honey? Total win!
I just noticed this comment somehow, lol. MEN! They don't know what's good for them. ;) Just made a triple batch of pesto last night! ~ karen