You'll never believe Curtis' no-fail pizza secret for this simple homemade pie with mozzarella, pesto and tomatoes.
- Place a large baking stone on the bottom shelf in the oven and position the second shelf in the upper third of the oven then preheat the oven to 475°F.
- Heating the baking stone well in advance will allow enough time for it to become very hot before baking the pizzas on it.
- Baking on the very hot stone will create pizzas with crisp crusts.
- Lay the tomatoes on a nonreactive baking sheet and drizzle lightly with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Set the baking sheet on the second shelf in the oven and roast the tomatoes in the oven until they are tender and begin to brown about 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and set aside.
- To Make the Pesto:
- Using a Bump and Grind or another large mortar and pestle smash the garlic into a coarse puree.
- Add 1 1/2 bunches of the basil and pound until it is coarsely chopped.
- Add the pine nuts and smash to break them up.
- Mix in 1/3 cup of the Parmesan cheese.
- Slowly mix in 1/3 cup of the olive oil.
- Season the pesto to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
- To Prepare the Pizzas:
- Lightly dust the work surface with flour and press 1 ball of dough on the work surface into a circle.
- Continue to press and pull the dough into a thin irregularly shaped disk that is about 10 inches in diameter being careful not to over work the gluten in the flour by over kneading it.
- Lay a silicone baking mat on a pizza paddle then lay the pizza dough on the mat.
- Spread 1/4 cup of the pesto sauce in a thin layer over the pizza dough leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge.
- Arrange half of the roasted tomatoes over the pizza.
- Tear the mozzarella into long stringy pieces and scatter half of them over the pizza.
- Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese over the pizza.
- Immediately slide the pizza (still on the baking mat) off of the paddle and onto the hot baking stone in the oven.
- Bake the pizza for about 12 minutes or until the bottom is crisp and deep golden brown and the cheese has melted and become pale golden on top.
- Using the pizza paddle remove the pizza (still on the baking mat) from the stone then slide the pizza off of the mat and onto a cutting board.
- Scatter half of the basil leaves over the pizza. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Using a pizza wheel or large sharp knife cut the pizza into pieces and serve.
- Repeat to make a second pizza.
- After the second pizza has finished baking turn the oven off leaving the baking stone in the oven to cool slowly.
- Visit http://curtisstone.com.