Apple, Goat’s Cheese & Pesto Pizza

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It’s really starting to feel like summer around here lately, with long days and weather so warm, I’m actually taking off my sweater on walks. And when we have friends over for dinner, the kids can run in and out of the house, leaving doors wide open, taking some of the yelling and games outside while we adults lazily chat over the table of dirty dishes.

I’m thinking of all this, because this was our Monday evening, and best of all, it was with my sister and her family, who have MOVED to PORTLAND!! I am absolutely ecstatic. I never thought I would get to live by one of my siblings, and now, here she is, under an hour away, which is a much, much shorter journey than the two-day drive we did at Christmas. We can get together any time we want. It is so fabulous.

So when they came over for their inaugural dinner in Oregon, I made my favorite dish. And now I’m sharing it with you.

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It’s hard to go wrong with pesto, especially on pizza. But pairing it with the slight sweetness of thin apple slices, crunchy almonds, and mounds of melty goat’s cheese creates one sublime slice. I came up with this recipe after eating an apple pizza at a Portland pizzeria, and it has quickly become a family favorite. In fact, I have to say that this might be the recipe I am most proud of.

The topping combination goes particularly well with this crust, which is also my recipe. (You might recognize it from this BBQ chicken/tofu pizza recipe.) I wanted a whole wheat crust that was still supple and chewy, and I think this one does the job nicely. It has the stretchy texture you’d expect from a good pizza pie, but the whole wheat lends a nuttiness that makes it more satisfying than many pizza crusts. I would recommend rolling it out fairly thin in order to get a good combination of flavorful toppings and bready bottom.

This recipe can be a bit of work, but there are a number of ways to cut back on the time investment. See the head notes for more details.

Special Diets & Allergies: vegetarian, soy free if you use a non-soy milk

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Apple, Goat’s Cheese & Pesto Pizza

Makes two 15” pizzas

The goat cheese on this pizza melts into the pesto, creating a gooey topping accented by sweet, crisp apples and crunchy, roasted nuts. Start the dough about 1½ hours before you want to eat. While the dough rises, whip up the sauce, prepare the toppings, and pre-heat the oven. Then roll out the dough, assemble the pizza, and pop it in the oven.

This is quite a bit of work if you make the pesto the same day as the pizza. If you make it ahead of time and freeze it, it will cut down on the time. You can also make the entire pizza ahead of time, then wrap it (while on the baking sheet) entirely in plastic wrap and freeze for a few days. When you are ready to eat, remove the plastic wrap, place the pizza directly into the pre-heated oven, still frozen. It will need to cook a bit longer than a thawed pizza, 5 to 10 minutes more, depending on your oven. 

CRUST:

Ingredients:

1 C warm water
2 T yeast
2 T honey
¼ C oil
2 T flaxseed, mixed with 4 T very hot water
3¼-3½ C whole wheat flour
½ t salt

Directions:

  1. Mix flaxseed and water and let sit for 5 minutes, or until gelatinous.
  2. Mix water and yeast and beat with a fork until foamy.
  3. Mix honey, oil, flaxseed mixture, and salt. Add 2 Cups flour. Mix.
  4. Stir in yeast mixture.
  5. Mix in remaining flour, ½ Cup at a time, kneading once it gets too stiff to stir, until dough reaches a nice, elastic consistency. The dough should be soft, but not sticky. Let rise 1 to 1½ hours. Punch down and roll out into two circles (or, if you don’t have a pizza stone, roll into rectangles to bake on cookie sheets). Sprinkle the pizza stones or cookie sheets with cornmeal.
  6. Place the dough on the stones or cookie sheets and fold up the edges to create a thicker outside edge.

PESTO SAUCE:

Ingredients:

2 T olive oil
¼ to ½ onion, chopped (optional)
3 T flour
1 C milk (any kind, including non-dairy milk, as long as it’s unsweetened)
Salt and pepper to taste
About 3/4 C pesto, or to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion, if using, and sauté until soft.
  3. Sprinkle flour over the onions/oil and stir in quickly. Quickly whisk in about ½ Cup of the milk, making sure to get rid of any lumps. Once it is smooth, slowly add the rest of the milk, whisking to combine.
  4.  Continue to cook the milk, stirring frequently, until it is bubbly and thick.
  5. Turn the heat to low, stir in the pesto, and then add salt and pepper, or more pesto, to taste.
  6. Remove from  heat.

TOPPINGS:

¼ C thinly sliced onion (preferably red) or more to taste
1 C baby spinach leaves, washed and patted dry
¼-½ C lightly toasted, chopped almonds
One tart apple, thinly sliced
½-1 C plain goat’s cheese
1 C grated mozzarella, or to taste

ASSEMBLE AND BAKE:

  1. Place oven rake one position up from the middle of your oven. Pre-heat oven to 500 F.
  2. Take the pizza dough, prepared as explained above, and spread the pesto sauce over the dough.
  3. Sprinkle on toppings: spinach; mozzarella; nuts, onions, and apples; then goat’s cheese.
  4. Bake pizza for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden, the edges of the onions and apple are starting to brown, and the cheese is bubbly.

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5 responses to “Apple, Goat’s Cheese & Pesto Pizza

  1. Wow, this pizza looks phenomenal! I am definitely adding it to my mental list of pizzas to make (soon!). I love the decadence of goat cheese + mozzarella, and I never would have thought of adding apple slices to a pizza before, even though I’ve totally had them on spinach salads. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

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