Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cilantro Pesto Pizza Topped with Portobellos and Red Onion

There's lots going on in this pizza. Start with a fresh homemade pizza crust, add a surprisingly different pesto based on cilantro instead of basil, and top with an earthy mixture of portobello mushrooms and red onion. To save time, make the pesto and prepare the mushroom topping while the dough is rising.

For the crust:
  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon vegan sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water (between 100 and 110 degrees)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 teaspoons yellow cornmeal
For the pesto:
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Parmesan sprinkles (such as Galaxy Foods)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
For the topping:
  • 4 and 1/2 cups coarsely chopped portobello mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 3/4 cup shredded vegan cheese
1. To prepare the crust, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water in a large bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes.

2. Lightly spoon the flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Add 1 and 1/4 cups flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt to the yeast mixture, stirring to form a soft dough.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.  Add the remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. I used an extra 3 tablespoons or so.

3. Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, and turn so the top of the dough is coated as well.  Cover and let rise some place warm and free from drafts (like a closed, unheated oven) for 30 minutes.  The dough should be doubled in size.

4. Punch the dough down, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes.  Roll into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface.  Place on a 12-inch pizza pan or baking sheet sprinkled with the cornmeal, and crimp the edges with your fingers to form a rim.  Cover and let rise for 10 minutes - you want the dough to be puffy.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the pesto: combine the cilantro, walnuts, Parmesan sprinkles, olive oil, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor.  Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Set aside.

6. To prepare the topping, heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add the portobello; cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly - the moisture in the pan should be evaporated.  Add the vinegar and cook until the liquid evaporates (which will happen almost instantly).  Sprinkle with the final 1/4 teaspoon salt and the black pepper.

7. Spoon the mushroom mixture onto the prepared crust.  Drop the pesto by teaspoonfuls over the mushroom mixture (you'll have enough for about 9 or 10 dollops).

8 Top with the red onion and sprinkle with the cheese.

Note: I used Daiya's shredded mozzarella.  Any creamy vegan cheese that melts well will work fine.

9. Bake at 450 degrees for 14 to 15 minutes - the crust should be lightly browned.  Let stand at least 5 minutes before cutting into 6 wedges. 

Nutrition Info:
6 servings (1 wedge), Calories 233 

Tasting Notes:
Absolutely utterly awesome, and well worth the time and effort. The crust came out perfectly - crisp but not burned, and not too floury as I find can sometimes be the case with homemade pizza dough. The mushrooms and red onion were earthy, and there was just the right amount of gooey melted cheese. But the best part by far was the cilantro pesto. It's quite salty, so if you ever make it for an application other than this pizza, consider decreasing the amount of salt to 1/4 teaspoon. But for this pizza, the pesto made for delectable little pockets full of fresh cilantro, toasted walnuts, and saltiness. 


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