Everything has come early this year, including the heat. I have watched flowers and trees bloom more than 4 weeks early for some varieties. Even though I’m not really ready for it to be hot yet, it has brought my tender herbs to be ready for their first picking.
My bed of basil (yes you read correctly–BED!) is ready for it’s first thinning. I grow lots of basil so I have enough to freeze for all those months when its too cold. This allows that first thinning to supply me with enough basil to make a meal with it as the main course, so to speak.
I’m talking about grilled pizza. I make a pizza with pesto sauce instead of tomato sauce. And my husband says it has ruined him forever (a self confessed pizza lover). Its just about the only pizza he wants to eat now.
I encourage all of you to grow your own herbs. And as they said in the movie Inception “don’t be afraid to dream big darling”, plant as much as you can, so you can use them as often as you want. Nothing’s worse than waiting for your little plant to fill back in because you didn’t have enough. Most herbs require very little care, if any at all. I grow basil, cilantro, mint, lemon balm, rosemary, thyme, oregano, hyssop, and sage. Basil and cilantro grow in my vegetable beds because I use them more than any other so they need space. The rest are grown in my flower beds and come back year after year to flavor my dishes and decorate my yard.
Our first summer pizza is something my guys get all excited about. I have always used my first pickings for this dish. I started grilling pizza many years ago because I don’t like to heat up the kitchen and there’s just something about grilling it that makes it taste…well…better!
I do recommend using a prepared pizza crust. I have tried to use fresh dough and just couldn’t get it to work right. If you know how, please let me know. I top ours with grilled chicken, sweet peppers, red onion and feta cheese. Later this summer I will add halved grape tomatoes as well. If you love pesto, you will love this pizza.
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup good olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 cup shredded Parmesan
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup pine nuts or roasted sunflower seeds
Process above ingredients until smooth.
To make 2 pizzas.
olive oil, as needed
2 cups fresh pesto sauce (recipe above)
1 cup mixed sweet peppers, chopped
1/2 cup red onion
2 cup diced grilled chicken (smoked Kielbasa also works nicely)
1 cup feta, crumbled
Brush pizza crusts with a thin layer of olive oil. Divide pesto sauce evenly between the pizzas and spread evenly to about 1 inch from the edge.
Place your pizza stone on your grill BEFORE heating it. Bring temp to 400F. (If you have 3 burners, turn the middle to it’s lowest setting or completely off.)
Using a pizza paddle (I recommend it so you keep your arm hair), slide your pizza onto the stone. Close lid. Grill pizza for 7-9 minutes until topping just begin to brown. Watch the bottom of the crust so it doesn’t burn.
Remove pizza using paddle and place on cutting surface and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Slice and serve hot. Enjoy!