The key to homemade pizza that outshines your favorite delivery pie? It's all about the sauce, and today we're sharing James Beard Award winner and pizza pro Peter Reinhart 's recipe for delicious basil pesto sauce — absolutely free!
Basil Pesto Sauce
This tasty recipe can be spread on pizza dough before baking, or it can be a garnish once the pizza is out of the oven. Although pesto is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, a food processor or blender will do the trick in your kitchen.
- 8 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped and tossed in 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and stemmed
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan or other dry aged cheese
- 1 cup pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- You can substitute small amounts of other fresh herbs for the basil, but basil is the most popular (and it tastes so good on pizza!)
- When measuring the basil leaves, pack them tightly into a measuring cup
- You can use pine nuts, walnuts or a combination of both! They should be toasted first, either in a dry skillet over medium heat or in the oven at 350 F for 6 to 8 minutes.
Heat a sauté pan or skillet over medium heat and, when it is hot, add the chopped garlic/olive oil mixture. Stir for 15 seconds and then remove from the heat. (You only want to heat and "sweat" the garlic, not brown it.)
Place all remaining ingredients into the food processor and add the heated garlic/oil mixture.
Pulse the mixture until all the basil is broken down and the ingredients are evenly distributed. Run the processor for an addition 5 to 10 seconds to make a bright green, pebbly-textured sauce, thin enough to spread easily but not so thin as to be runny. Adjust the thickness by adding more olive oil if it's too thick, or more grated cheese if it's too thin.
If you're not planning to use the sauce right away, transfer the sauce to a container that can be covered with a lid (to maximize oxidation). Keep refrigerated for up to 5 days, or keep in the freezer for up to three months.
Plan on making your pesto pizza right away? Complete your pizza with Chef Reinhart's free online video lessons in Perfect Pizza at Home !
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