I love flatbread pizza. I love how the dough gets toasty brown and crispy and beautiful, and this one is even better because it includes a delicious (and healthy!) spinach pesto.
I love pesto, too. I make it frequently with whatever greens I happen to have on hand, although spinach and basil are obvious favorites. I don’t think I’ve ever made pesto the same way twice- I’m very guilty of tasting and adding and tasting as I go along, and it’s always tasty. Point being, this pizza will be great with whatever type of pesto you’re able to make with the ingredients that you have. Feel free to substitute/add whatever greens, spices, nuts, or other add-ins you personally enjoy in pesto.
When assembling the actual pizza, feel free to use parchment paper or your favorite method for keeping the dough from sticking. However, I highly recommend using the oil/cornmeal method described below, as the cornmeal gives the pizza crust a really great texture!
If you’re vegan, just make the pizza without the mozzarella cheese on top. I promise it will still be really really tasty.
Please start this recipe a couple of hours before you think you’ll want to eat! The dough will take at least an hour to rise.
This recipe is: vegetarian, gluten free (with gluten free pizza dough), vegan (without adding mozzarella cheese as a pizza topping)
For the dough:
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tsp yeast
- scant 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (can substitute all purpose flour or 3/4 all purpose flour + 3/4 whole wheat flour or your choice of gluten free flour)
For the pesto:
- 1 lb fresh spinach, stems removed, washed
- 1 cup fresh parsley leaves (or basil, or a combination)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 grated parmesan (nutritional yeast if vegan)
- 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted*
- 1 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes or 2 tsp tomato paste
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- salt and pepper to taste*
For assembling the pizza:
- 8 oz fresh mozzarella
- 2 roma tomatoes
- corn meal
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the yeast and sugar into warm water and let stand for 15 minutes. When the yeast is bubbly, add the olive oil. Add the flour and sea salt and mix on low speed for 4-5 minutes. The dough should be in a ball chasing itself around the bowl. If it is too dry, add warm water by the tablespoon. If the dough is too wet, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time. Place the dough in an oiled bowl (or just remove the dough from the mixer bowl, oil it up, and re-use the same bowl), place plastic wrap over the bowl, and set it in a moderately warm area for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, prepare the pesto. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare a large bowl of ice water. Stir the greens into boiling water, in batches if necessary. Cook until wilted but still bright green, about 30 seconds. Immediately transfer the greens to an ice bath to stop the cooking. When the greens are completely cool, drain well and transfer to a clean kitchen towel. Squeeze the towel to extract as much liquid as possible.
- Place the blanched greens into a food processor. Add the walnuts, parmesan, garlic, tomatoes (or tomato paste), lemon juice, and cinnamon. Process to a coarse paste. With the motor still running, pour in the olive oil. Process until smooth, about 2 minutes. If the pesto is too thick, add about 1/4 cup of water. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Preheat your oven to 500°F.
- Oil a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Roll/stretch/do whatever you have to do to get the dough into a rectangular shape, as thin as you possibly can. Transfer the formed dough to the prepared baking sheet if you didn’t have it there already.
- Spread a layer of pesto on top of the dough, leaving about 1/2 inch of crust on all sides. If you have leftover pesto, use it as a topping for pasta, sandwiches, or pretty much anything! Slice the mozzarella and tomatoes into thin slices and spread them over the pizza.
- Bake the flatbread for 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the edges have started to brown. Let the pizza rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
* To toast walnuts (or pretty much any nut or seed), preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant and lightly golden (2-3 minutes for seeds, 4-6 minutes for nuts). Toasting can also be accomplished on the stovetop in a cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Place the nuts in a pan and shake it continuously until the nuts are fragrant and golden, about 2 minutes for seeds or 4 minutes for nuts.
*When adding salt to taste, I always recommend using kosher salt, as it’s much easier to see and feel exactly how much you’re adding.