Pesto and Mozzarella French Bread Pizza
Basil is the classic choice for this alternative to red sauce, but blend in any tender, flavorful herbs or greens like parsley, spinach, or arugula depending on what you have around. This pesto recipe doubles easily and freezes well, too: Transfer the finished pesto to an ice cube tray and freeze until firm. Pop the frozen pesto into a resealable bag, and keep it in the freezer for up to three months. Defrost whenever a pasta or pizza craving calls, though you can certainly use store-bought pesto to make things even easier. Fresh mozzarella creates excellent cheese pulls, but feel free to play around with other soft cheeses: A crumbling of feta or goat cheese would make delicious variations.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 4cups lightly packed basil leaves or other tender herbs or greens such as parsley, arugula, baby spinach, or a combination
- 1garlic clove
- ¼cup pine nuts or almonds
- ⅓cup olive oil
- ¼cup grated Parmesan
- ½teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
- ¼cup olive oil
- 2garlic cloves, grated
- 1loaf soft French bread, split lengthwise, insides mostly dug out
- 8ounces mozzarella, low-moisture and part-skim, or fresh (drained and patted dry, if necessary) thinly sliced
- Red-pepper flakes, dried oregano or grated Parmesan, or a combination, for serving
Step 1Make the pesto: Heat the oven to 450 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Combine basil, 1 garlic clove and pine nuts in a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine running, stream in the olive oil. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add Parmesan and salt, and pulse to combine.
Step 2Prepare the pizza: Combine the 1/4 cup olive oil and grated garlic in a small pot over medium. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the garlic starts to sizzle (but doesn’t begin to brown), 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Step 3Place the French bread cut side up on a baking sheet. Brush cut sides with garlic oil. Bake until edges are golden, 5 to 7 minutes.
Step 4Spread the pesto over the two halves all the way to the edges and top with the cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is evenly melted, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to broil and broil (watch carefully!) until the cheese is bubbly and browned in spots, 1 to 2 minutes more. Let cool 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Top with red-pepper flakes, oregano and more Parmesan, if you like.