You know summer has arrived when a regular cheese slice at your favorite pizzeria all of a sudden seems too cheesy, too greasy, too heavy. In an effort to make a lightened-up version of a favorite slice, I stripped it of its cheeses and baked the dough naked. Unburdened by layers of toppings, the dough bakes up with a perfect spring, with a craggy texture pocked with crests and craters: the perfect topography to capture a heavy brushing of herb-and-garlic olive oil.
The beauty is in the simplicity: simply bake the dough, brush with herb and garlic olive oil, and top with the pesto mixture. It’s also very easy to adapt this recipe based on your taste and ingredient availability; change up the herbs, add some spices, throw in some nuts. Blogger and Baking Steel fan Alexandra Stafford, AKA Alexandra Cooks (inventor of the naked pesto. pizza), tops her pizza with a bunch of fresh greens. Whatever you do, this herb-topped naked pizza makes an irresistible summer appetizer or complement to a hearty salad for a full meal.
Makes one approximately 12-inch pizza
1 ball 72 hour pizza dough or your favorite dough
3-4 ice cubes
1 batch perfect pesto sauce - see below
olive oil, for drizzling
Fine sea salt, to taste
Preheat your oven with your Baking Steel on the top rack for 1 hour.
Stretch your dough into a 12 inch circle (oblong or oval is fine). Lightly flour your peel and place the dough on top.
Drizzle the dough lightly with olive oil. Next, add three or four ice cubes in the center of the dough.
Use a generously floured pizza peel to launch your pizza onto the Baking Steel and bake under the broiler for 2 minutes.
After 2 minutes, open the oven and use your pizza peel to give the pizza a 180-degree turn. Turn off the broil setting but keep the oven at its highest temperature, and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes, or until the crust has reached your desired brownness.
Use your pizza peel to remove the pie from the oven. Working with the pizza still on the peel, spread the pesto evenly on top, and sprinkle with salt to taste. Slice and serve.
To make the pesto - Grab a bunch of basil leaves and chop them up, place in a bowl. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, 1 clove of chopped garlic and some grated romano cheese. Mix. Feel free to add your own spices and other greens...