I wholeheartedly partake in any opportunity to enjoy some pesto. It I see it on a menu while dining out, however it's featured, I will more than likely order it. Last summer I planted a number of basil plants in order to make a large batch to freeze and stock up for the winter when all I want is something green. In college during my semester abroad I visited Cinque Terre in Northern Italy. We stayed in one of the five colorful villages than lean precariously off the cliffs along the coast. We had pesto pasta at this restaurant and loved it so much we came back the next night for a second round. Ain't too proud to beg for some more pesto.
I typically make the classic pesto: basil, pine nuts, parmesean cheese, lemon and olive oil. What's great about pesto is you can really experiment with a number of combinations. All you need to do it follow the basic building blocks: a base - kale, arugula, spinach, broccoli, parsley., a nut/seed - almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds., cheese - parmesean, pecornio, any aged cheese., olive oil- preferably a high quality, and an acid/brightener- lemon, lime, vinegar, wine. Any combination will more than likely taste good!
For the Pesto Chicken Pizza I used a store bought pizza crust, the homemade pesto, fresh mozzarella, tomato and chicken. This recipe will work great for my clients because the pizza can be stored up to a day before baking. Here's what I did:
Pesto Chicken Pizza
2-3 cups Basil
1/4 cup Pine Nuts
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan
1/4 - 1/3 cup Olive Oil
2 cloves of garlic
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
salt & pepper
Pizza Crust (I used the Boboli brand)
1 lb. Boneless Skinless chicken Breast
2 diced Roma Tomatoes
3-5 Basil leaves cut into thin strips
Fresh Mozzarella, 8 oz ball cut into 1" chunks
Handful of Shredded Parmesan
For the pesto:In a food processor or blender pulse the garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil until almost smooth, can still have a little texture to it. Add the basil, grated parmesean, lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse again until almost smooth. May need to add a little more olive oil if too thick or more basil if too thin.Taste and adjust accordingly.
Pound the chicken breasts with a meat tenderizer until the chicken is equal in thickness. Cut chicken into small cubes and season with salt and pepper. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium skillet and cook the chicken over medium-high, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add 2-4 tablespoons of pesto or enough to give it a nice coating.
Remove pizza crust from packaging and place on a baking sheet, pizza stone, or pizza skin. Brush with olive oil making sure the edges are covered. Brush pesto onto crust so it makes a nice base. Put as much or as little as you like. Top with chicken, diced tomatoes, mozzarella, parmesan and basil. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the top of the pizza is beginning to brown.