For people who enjoy new twists on old favorites, pesto pizza may be a healthful option, full of vitamins and minerals. Generally, pesto pizza is pizza crust with green pesto sauce used as a substitute for red tomato sauce. Just like traditional pizza, a wide range of toppings may be used, and the pizza is typically topped with either mozzarella, feta cheese, or a combination of both. A popular form of pizza with pesto sauce uses basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese to create the pesto. Other variations of pesto might include cilantro, spinach, kale, or fava beans, as well as almonds or walnuts.
Making pesto for pesto pizza is a simple process, as long as the chef has a food processor or blender. To make traditional basil pesto, 25-30 fresh basil leaves are placed in the food processor with 2 to 3 tablespoons (about 28.6 to 42.9 grams) of pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. For a smokier flavor, the pine nuts may be toasted as well. Anywhere from 3 tablespoons (about 42.9 grams) to a half cup (about 113.4 grams) of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper may be added to the mixture as well. At that time, the mixture is blended or mixed until it is smooth, like a sauce.
After the pesto is made, pesto pizza can be created in a similar manner to traditional pizza. Basically, the crust is covered in the pesto sauce. The toppings can then be added. Among the most popular toppings for pesto pizza are tomatoes, artichokes, broccoli, olives, mushrooms, onions, and cooked chicken. In most cases, shredded or sliced mozzarella cheese is used as well. In some cases, feta cheese may be used as a substitute for the mozzarella. The pesto pizza is then baked in an oven, preheated to 450°F (about 232.2°C), for approximately 10 to 12 minutes.
Although a combination of basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese may be the most common type of pesto that is used for pesto pizza, there are many different variations. For example, instead of fresh basil, other fresh ingredients may be used, such as cilantro, spinach, kale, or fava beans. In addition, instead of pine nuts, walnuts or almonds may be used. Some types of pesto leave out the cheese and add a spicy jalapeno for extra flavoring instead.
To create the lowest calorie pesto pizza, it is best to make pesto using less olive oil and leaving out the cheese. Each ingredient offers plenty of health benefits. Basil, for example, is an antibacterial and is also believed to improve heart health. Likewise, cilantro is thought to manage blood sugar and control cholesterol, and spinach and kale are both considered to be superfoods that fight cancer and strengthen bones.