Pizza with Pesto and Homemade Ricotta

This week, Erin showed you the many beautiful incarnations of pesto. Today we’re going to combine that recipe with two more easy ones to make something delightful — homemade pizza!

Yeah, deliveries are still up in many places, but I guarantee you once you make your own pizza you will never want to go back to Dominos. Today I’m going to provide two simple recipes to add to your repertoire — pizza dough and homemade ricotta.

Making cheese may sound like a daunting task, but it’s really just a few simple steps. Let’s get started there.

MAKING THE RICOTTA

To set up, you’re going to want a large bowl and a thin-mesh sieve. A lot of recipes will tell you to use a cheesecloth, but if you, like me, don’t have one, paper towels or just the sieve will work fine.

Next take 4 cups of whole milk, 1/2 a cup of cream, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring them to a boil in a large pot, then cut the heat by half. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of acid (lemon juice or vinegar work equally well). Stir constantly until the milk begins to curdle. It won’t look like much, in fact, you may still think you’re just stirring milk. But after a few minutes, pour it into your sieve and, like absolute magic, you’ll have this:

Let drain completely. It’ll sink a bit in the middle when more water comes out. Then, discard the liquid and cool your brand new, homemade ricotta! (I am so proud of you, making cheese like a goshdarn PRO!)

MAKING THE PIZZA DOUGH

This isn’t too dissimilar from making focaccia dough! You’ll need 1 cup of water (around the same temp as your skin), a teaspoon of sugar, and 1 packet (.25 oz) of dried yeast. Mix them in a bowl the same way you did for foccacia, and let them sit for 10 – 15 minutes until the yeast bubbles and becomes active.

Next, add 3 cups of all purpose flour (you may need to adjust this, like with any dough, for the humidity of the day, season, or your kitchen. Don’t be afraid to add splashes of warm water if you need to! You’ll want the dough to be smooth and elastic), one teaspoon of salt, and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Mix it all together by hand, knead until somewhat smooth, cover, and let rise in a warm place (it’s chilly in my apartment, so I use my oven, not turned on, for a proofing box) for around 45 minutes to an hour, until it’s light and risen and about doubled in size.

If you have a sourdough starter the recipe is even more simple! Combine a 1:1:1 ratio of starter, flour, and 90 degree water (ie, 1/4 pound of starter, 1/4 pound of flour, 1/4 pound of water.)

ASSEMBLING THE PIZZA

If you’re making a round pizza, you’ll want to roll the dough into a tight ball. You do this by cupping your hand around it and moving it in a circular motion on a clean, dry surface. You’ll want your thumb and pinkie tucking dough underneath as it circles. If the ball is too big, and you want to keep it big, use both hands for this same motion, tucking with your pinkies as you go.

Let the dough rise again, but less this time. Then, spray down the pan you’re baking on, and grease it again with olive oil. Stretch your dough out and over it and par-bake for about 10 minutes. Add toppings — in this case, tomato sauce, pesto, and ricotta. You can also just cover the whole thing in pesto, and add fresh tomato and dabs of ricotta.

Bake at 350 until it’s brown and crispy around the edges, and the sauce and cheese are hot.

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