Tuesday, April 29, 2014

52 Recipes: Pesto Bacon Goat Cheese Pizza [Week #16]

I'm fully aware that this is not the prettiest pizza in existence. But what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in taste

The idea for this pizza presented itself when I bought a piece of pizza from Whole Foods for dinner that had a pesto base, goat cheese, spinach, and balsamic glaze - it ended up being SO delicious but all I could think the entire time I was eating it was "this really needs some bacon and caramelized onions."

Because really, when doesn't bacon and caramelized onions make everything better?

In other news, I am such a slacker. I'm two weeks behind on this little ol' blog of mine. I've been cooking and trying new recipes, I just haven't been posting them in a timely manner. 

I don't know what the deal is. I feel constantly - constantly - motivated to write ALL THE THINGS. Except...when I come home from work. Except...after we've hiked for two hours and I'm tired. Except...on the weekends when all I want to do is READ ALL THE THINGS. (Who am I kidding, that's a 24/7 occurrence.)

You guys, I even started looking into the Creative Writing MFA program here at the U. 

WHAT THE WHAT. Clearly I need some motivation. 

When I find it, you'll be the first to know. 

Until then: pizza.

Pesto Bacon Goat Cheese Pizza
Inspired by: Whole Foods
Serves: 4

1 whole grain pizza dough ball (we are lazy and buy ours from Whole Foods; plus their dough is amazingly delicious!)
1/2 cup pesto (I used the store bought kind, but fresh would be WAY better here)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided in half
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1 whole onion, sliced and cooked until caramelized
4 slices bacon (I used a brand that was uncured and applewood smoked)
1-2 handfuls fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup shredded Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

In a small saucepan, heat the balsamic vinegar over high heat until it starts to boil. Reduce heat to a very low simmer and let cook for 15-20 minutes, until it reduces in volume and becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl to cool. Set aside.

While the vinegar is cooking, begin caramelizing the onions. This will take at least 30 minutes, and I am still not an expert, so I'd highly recommend following the tutorial I linked to above if you have any questions.

Preheat your oven to 425 F and place your pizza stone in the oven to get nice and hot (alternatively, if you don’t have a pizza stone, simply preheat your oven at this point). 

When you have about 10 minutes left on the onions, start prepping your other ingredients. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the bacon slices to the pan, turning occasionally until they are about halfway cooked through - they’ll finish cooking in the oven. Remove from heat, dab off excess grease with a paper towel, and cut each slice into thirds. Set aside.

Gather the rest of your ingredients together (mozzarella, tomatoes, goat cheese, spinach, romano): it's time to build the pizza!
-Roll out the dough until it’s the correct size to fit your pan or stone. At this point I usually take the hot pizza stone out of the oven (using oven mits!) and build my pizza directly on top of it. I'm terrible at trying to transfer the pizza with all its toppings directly into the oven, haha.
-Layer all your ingredients evenly over the pizza dough (half of the mozzarella cheese over the pesto, then the rest of your ingredients, then end with the remaining mozzarella and romano cheese). Top with freshly ground black pepper and red pepper flakes, to taste. 
-Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until crust begins to lightly brown and the cheese is nice and melted. (note: shredded romano won't really melt. so don't wait for that to happen, ha.)

Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the pizza as soon as it comes out of the oven.

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