This recipe looks like it has a lot of steps (and it does), but the steps are all fast and easy and if you start with a premade crust, your pizza will be done in no time. However, before you go straight to using a store bought crust, let me spend a second convincing you of how easy it is to make it at home, especially if you have a kitchen aid. You literally just put everything in the mixer and blend. If you’re really lazy (as I often am), you can even let those last two minutes of kneading happen in the mixer. I also always use the mixing bowl to let the dough rise in. I just take it out for second, oil the bowl, replace and rise.
Whenever I make pizza dough, I almost always also make a double batch and then par bake the left over dough and freeze it for later use, it’s like having “store bought” pizza dough at home and ready to use all the time. You can also make the dough ahead and store it in your fridge covered in an oiled bowl or a storage bag for up to two days. If this is still too much work for you, I recommend asking your local pizza joint to buy some fresh dough from them. You can usually get some for a few bucks, and the results are totally worth it.
For this recipe, I do par bake the dough, since the topped pizza doesn’t have to stay in the oven for very long, but for traditional marinara sauce pizza, I just use the dough in it’s completely raw form.
As for the two sauces in the recipe, both are fascinatingly simple, in one you just blend all the ingredient, and the other, you let sit on the stove for a little while, while your pizza is baking, and both sauces are excellent to have on hand. I always make homemade pesto in the summer months when basil is abundant, but during the winter, I like to use arugula, which stays relatively inexpensive and is easy to get all year long. The peppery flavor is perfect with the sweet pears and I spoon it on fresh to get the full impact of the arugula. The sauce is also great to use like traditional pesto on pasta, or to top roasted potatoes, spread on to sandwiches, or spooned onto roasted chicken, fish, or a good steak.
The honey balsamic reduction is just as versatile, and I often use it to jazz up grilled chicken or to top bruschetta or roasted veggies.
Once you have all the pieces ready, it really is just assemble and bake. The ingredients are few and simple and so each one really shines. You get the smoky notes of bacon and creamy tartness of the goat cheese with the bright peppery arugula all there to support the sweet complexity of the Comice pears.
This is an easy recipe to have in your back pocket for a quick meal to have for guests, and the bacon can easily be replaced with toasted walnuts for an equally delicious vegetarian option. The walnuts and pears are so good together, that it’s sure to please even your most devout carnivores.
1 large pizza crust
1 large Comice pear, thinly sliced
12 oz. goat cheese crumbled
8 oz. thickly sliced bacon, cut into 2 in. squares (about 5-6 slices)
(or 1 c toasted walnuts, for a vegetarian version)
1 c. Arugula Pesto
3-4 T Honey Balsamic Glaze
Preheat oven to 475°F
Prepare a 14 or 16 in. pizza pan by lightly coating with cooking spray or scantly dusting with cornmeal
Roll out pizza crust thinly and place on prepared pan.
Par bake crust for 4-5 minutes on 475°F
Meanwhile, cut bacon into large 2 in. pieces and cook on medium high heat until lightly browned, but not cooked completely. Bacon will continue to cook and further crisp in the oven.
Once crust is par baked, crumble on goat cheese then evenly place on the bacon and thinly sliced Comice pears.
Baked at 475°F for 7-9 minutes or until cheese is slightly browned and pears are golden around the edges and roasted through.
Remove from oven and let cool for a minute before spooning on arugula pesto and drizzling on the honey balsamic glaze.
Pizza Dough: makes 2, 14 -16 in. thin crust pizzas
1 T (or 1 package) or dry yeast
½ c warm water
1 t. sugar
3 – 3 ½ c All Purpose Flour
2 t salt
¾ c milk
¼ c olive oil
Mix yeast, warm water, and sugar in a small bowl and let proof for approximately 5 minutes or until the yeast starts to bubble.
In a medium sized mixing bowl or in a kitchen aid with a dough hook or similar appliance with a dough attachment, blend flour and salt, then after yeast is proofed, mix in remaining ingredients starting on low to medium speed, then increasing to a faster speed till all ingredients are well combined or until the dough forms a ball and begins to slightly pull away from the sides.
Remove from the bowl onto a slightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about an hour or until the dough has approximately doubled in size.
After the dough has risen, punch it down, divide in two and it’s ready to use.
Arugula Pesto: makes approximately 2 ½ c of finished pesto
2 c packed arugula (approx. a 5 oz. container)
¾ c extra virgin olive oil
½ c freshly grated parmesean
½ c toasted pine nuts
2 T lemon juice (about half of a large lemon)
1 small clove garlic
salt to taste
Wash and dry your arugula well. Even a few teaspoons of water left on the leaves will substantially water down the flavor of your pesto.
To toast the pine nuts, place nuts in a dry sauté pan on medium high heat shaking or stirring the nuts continuously until they are lightly browned in color and their aroma intensifies.
Place all ingredients except the olive oil into a blender or food processor (I prefer a food processor), and pulse while drizzling the olive oil in a slow but steady stream.
You are looking for a smooth, but not liquid consistency. The sauce should be of medium thickness, adjust with more or less olive oil (or lemon juice) to your desired consistency.
Honey Balsamic Glaze:
1 c balsamic vinegar
¼ c honey
Place ingredients in a small saucepan and on medium heat reduce by half.
The sauce will thicken as it reduces and should coat the back of a spoon when done. Be careful when it’s cooking not to get it on your skin as the reduced sugars in both the honey and balsamic will act like caramel and can stick to and burn your skin.
The reduction will thicken more as it cools and you may need to reheat it on low heat before using if it thickens too significantly.