Neapolitan Pesto White Pizza
This Neapolitan Pesto White Pizza is made with a full bodied fresh pesto and a Roberta’s style pizza dough that cradle not just ricotta, but mozzarella and a burrata centerpiece, along with half moons of shallot, and a sprinkle of red pepper & olive oil.Jump to Recipe
I have always tried to grow basil in my various apartments. It rarely worked, since I did not have an outdoor space nor a window in my kitchen. Finally, here in our apartment in a house, I have both. I had some basil on the large windowsill over my kitchen sink, but it took our third summer here to transport what small remnants of still living basil were left out to the outside balcony, along with a new bunch of basil.
The basil blossomed, as did my hopes to make homemade pesto sauce. I remember having a pesto pasta with roasted chicken some time in my 20s, and I never forgot it. For some reason, the years went by and I never tried again to make my own.
Since our basil was in prime pesto condition, and I now had a food processor to prep the sauce, I did just that. We became obsessed, making homemade fettuccine and breaded chicken cutlets repeatedly just to have this fresh pesto.
One random day, my guy just blurted out, “you should make a homemade pizza with the pesto recipe.” I thought, well, sure–why not? Immediately, I knew it had to be a white pizza. I am a huge white pizza fan. My favorite white pizza has equal parts ricotta and mozzarella, along with mushrooms and onions.
Here, the pesto had to be the star, so we decided on a Neapolitan style dough, and layers of creamy ricotta, thin slices of mozzarella, a big ball of burrata crowning the center of the pizza just for kicks, and some sliced shallot in order to have something to hang onto while lost in a sea of cheesy-ness.
On top of all that swims a gorgeous deep green swirl of homemade pesto. And, of course, lots of fresh oregano and basil from the garden, a drizzle of olive oil, and a few more shaves of Parmigiano Reggiano for good luck. I was a little nervous about making my own pizza dough, and baking it in our “ok, but nowhere near a pizza oven” oven. See below for the lessons learned!
For the dough, I knew I wanted a Neapolitan style. Every time I thought it was the day, I remembered that the dough had to sit for at least 24 hours. Finally, it was the right day before the day to make the dough. I ended up using a Robertas style dough that originally appeared in the New York Times, but alas, my subscription ran out, so I found it on Serious Eats.
The dough recipe was sound; it uses half all purpose flour and half Tipo 00 flour, which is my go to for homemade pasta. The dough comes together in about a half hour, including the resting time. Once ready, it is wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated for at least 24 hours. When you check back, the dough is pressed against the plastic like THAT scene in Midnight Express, by way of Cable Guy. Against the glass.
The one lesson learned was to scale back on the toppings just a little bit, especially the cheese. The taste is delicious, but the weight of the cheese became a little big heavy and prevented the center of the dough from getting nice and golden brown. Otherwise, its good to go. Flavor wise, this is a pesto pie that will bring you back again and again.
Neapolitan White Pesto Pizza
- Metal pizza tray or pizza stone, if possible. Alternative is baking sheet flipped upside down.
Roberta's Style Dough (see recipe link above)
- 4 cups fresh basil leaves
- ½-⅔ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup pine nuts or almonds
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 8 oz ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- 1 large ball of burrata
- 4 oz mozzarella, shredded or sliced
- Handful of shredded parmesan
- Large handful fresh basil
- salt, pepper, and red pepper to taste
- Drizzle olive oil
For the Pesto
- Add ¼ cup of the olive oil, the basil, nuts, garlic, and salt into a food processor and pulse until well combined.
- Add in the cheese and turn food processor on, very slowly adding the remainder of the olive oil (you may use ½ – ⅔ cup total of olive oil — make sure to watch the consistency of the pesto and stop when desired consistency is reached.)
- Use pesto right away or store, covered in plastic wrap, in refrigerator.
To Prepare Dough/Pizza Assembly
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees or 525 degrees on Broil setting.
- Prepare the ricotta: mix the ricotta, parsley, egg, olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk together and set aside.
- On a floured surface, roll out the pizza dough (that has been resting in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and taken out for at least 30 minutes). After rolling out into a circle, start using your hands to carefully shape the dough into your desired circle. I tried playing pizza parlor and manged to gently stretch out the dough, but it's a tricky business. Do your best and have fun with it!
- Once the dough is on the stone or tray, add a thin layer of the ricotta mixture (I used a little too much; with pizza, less is more.) Next, spoon some pesto around the pizza. Again, less is more, but I tend to swirl more than ladel; not covering the whole pie, but swirling areas evenly throughout the pie.
- Add some sliced or shredded mozzarella, followed by the large burrata ball sitting in the center of the pie. Remember, that burrata will spill out onto the top of the pie, so don't overload with mozzarella. One must complement the other.
- Finally, a sprinkle of parmesan, followed by a little black and/or red pepper flake. No salt is needed–all the cheese is providing plenty for you!
- Drizzle a little olive oil on top and place the tray into the oven, close to the top of the oven. Watch the pizza closely; the cheese must bubble briskly, and the crust must cook through, although make sure to take the pizza out before the crust becomes too crunchy. You want a soft chew on the inside, especially near the crust ends. 8-10 minutes, or 10-12 minutes is usually a good window, depending on your oven and setting.
- Allow the pizza to cool for at least 10-15 minutes. Slice, and enjoy! Use the rest of your pesto for some nice homemade pasta;)