Monday, September 10, 2012

Garlic Chicken Pesto Pizza

I've been on this kick lately in which I've been actually making dinner for you all.  If you take a look at my recipe box, I'm pretty sure it is about 80% dessert recipes.  However, in the past week I have made 3 different dinner recipes.  I've made pizza before, but when I made it last year I had made individual pizzas on the grill.  This time, we decided to make it in the oven.  Including the time it took to make the dough and the pesto, the whole process took about an hour (with help, of course).  Plus, I was able to save about half of the dough to make another pizza later (or to make both at once).

I had been waiting to make this pizza for a long time.  Waiting for the basil plants to grow tall enough, waiting for there to be leftover chicken.  This pizza was definitely worth the wait.  This is also another really great recipe to have on hand during the school year, since you can make the pizza dough over the weekend, freeze it, and then leave it in the refrigerator during the day to defrost.  Then you can come home, preheat your oven, top your pizza, and dinner will be ready in about 30 minutes.  Now that I'm teaching, easy weeknight meals are clutch to have around :)

This dough is for a thin crust pizza, so you can either bake it right away, or let the dough rest and rise for a couple of hours to get a thicker crust pizza.  I made it both ways and both ways were very enjoyable.

Have fun with this recipe!  Have everyone in your family make their own mini pizza.  Or put all of your favorite toppings on one pizza and see how it comes out.  The only thing that needs to stay the same is you need to put your cheese on at the very end and let it bake for about 3 minutes.  The cheese will scorch before the dough is cooked if you put everything on at once.

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Garlic Chicken Pesto Pizza 
Makes about 3 pies, depending on the size of your pan

For the pizza dough
- 1 ½ c water, lukewarm
- 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (1, ¼ oz packet)
- 4 ½ c flour
- 1 tsp salt
For the toppings
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 c pesto
- 1 1/2 c cooked chicken, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 500F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or non-stick foil.

Pour packet of active dry yeast into lukewarm water and whisk with a fork until the yeast is dissolved.  Let sit for about 10 minutes to activate the yeast. 

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and form a well in the center of the flour.  Pour the water into the well and, using your hands or a dough hook on an electric mixer (not a beater!), mix the flour and the water together.  When combined, transfer half of the dough to a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, not sticky.  Repeat with the second half.  (Note: at this point, you can let the dough rise for a couple of hours in a cool, dry place, or you can let it rise in the oven while it bakes). 

Take one ball of dough and place it in your baking sheet.  Press the dough down and stretch it out until it fills the pan.  Brush olive oil over the dough.  Spoon your pesto sauce into the center of the dough and spread until it is about ½ in from the edge of the dough.  Pile on the chicken.

Bake the pizza for about 5 minutes and then rotate your pizza 180 degrees.  Bake for another 3 minutes, sprinkle the cheese and garlic on top, and bake for an additional 2 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.   Let cool for about 5 minutes and then serve.  

Dough can be stored in a plastic bag in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer.

Dough adapted from: The Kitchn

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