Zucchini and Spinach Pesto Pizza
Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 12 minutes
This pizza is so rich in flavor even your most voracious meat-eater would never complain that it’s vegetarian. Use a pizza stone to get the heat you’ll need to develop a crispy bottom. During the summer, you can use your stone on the grill, taking advantage of high heat without warming up your kitchen. Whether you use the grill or your oven, this pizza is delicious.
2 cups (50 grams) baby spinach leaves, packed
1¼ cups (25 grams) basil leaves, packed
1¼ cups (25 grams) Italian parsley leaves, packed
½ cup (44 grams) finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (see Kitchen Tips)
2 cloves garlic, peeled
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ball of Basic Pizza Dough (see Kitchen Tips)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons cornmeal
½ cup shredded low-moisture mozzarella
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced crosswise
¼ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Torn fresh basil leaves for garnish
- In the bowl of a food processor combine the spinach, basil, and parsley. Pulse three or four times to chop the leaves. Add the cheese, pine nuts, garlic, lemon zest and crushed red pepper flakes. With the motor running, add ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon oil in a steady stream. Process the pesto until well combined stopping the machine to scrape down the sides as needed. Transfer the pesto to a small airtight container and top with 2 tablespoons oil. Seal the container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
- Preheat the oven or grill to 450° to 500°F. If you are using a pizza stone (see Kitchen Tips) put it into the oven or on the grill.
- On a lightly floured surface, pull and roll the dough until it is about ¼-inch thick and circular. Keep moving it around as you roll to make sure it is not sticking. (If you work with it too long, and it starts pulling back, flip a bowl upside down over the dough or cover it with floured kitchen towel, and let it rest for 5 to 8 minutes to allow the glutens to relax again.)
- Coat a pizza peel or a single-edged cookie sheet with cornmeal to prevent the dough from sticking. Brush the perimeter of the dough with 1 tablespoon oil.
- Scoop about ¼ cup of the pesto into the center of the dough (for a large pizza), spreading it evenly over the surface and leaving about 1 inch around the edge for the crust. Scatter the mozzarella over it and arrange the zucchini evenly on top. Sprinkle the Pecorino Romano and crushed red pepper evenly over the pizza. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil.
- Bake on pizza stone or grill until bubbly and golden, 5 to 6 minutes for small pizzas and 10 to 12 minutes for larger pizzas.
- Scatter torn basil leaves over the top of cooked pizzas and serve immediately.
- You can find toasted or roasted nuts in most supermarkets, but if you can’t, or if you prefer to roast your own, try The Weiser Kitchen’s Roasted Nuts recipe.
- The dough must be at room temperature before shaping. Place on a floured work surface and turn a bowl upside down over dough and let it come to room temperature. It may take over an hour.
- Pizza stones and baking bricks: Ceramic and brick pizza or bread stones are flat surfaces, often quite heavy, that are placed in an oven or on a grill. Once they come up to full heat, the pizza may be cooked on it and will mimic the effects of a brick oven, creating a crispy crust. The stones vary in size and are heavy, so shop carefully. Do not leave the stone in your oven, as they can be overheat and crack.