Once upon a time in the South of France, I sunk my teeth into a sweet and salty pizza that celebrated the flavors of the region. It was love (ok gluttony) at first bite and I knew it was something I had to recreate in my kitchen someday.  The pizza in question, beautifully blistered and hot out of a rustic wood-fire oven, was covered with unripened goat’s cheese – warm and soft, melting ever so slightly with it’s rinds collapsing into the crust. Toasted buttery piñóns, freshly fallen from colossal pine trees that overlooked the French Riviera were scattered on top, while the stickiest local amber honey…and I do mean sticky – think slow motion here…dripped between each triangular slice. If you’re anything like me and believe that food porn is a term that’s earned it’s rightful place in our culinary lexicon, then you absolutely must make this at home. Toying around with flavors, I’ve added an artichoke and walnut pesto with freshly grated parmesan cheese to add depth and flavor to the crust. The result is divine.

Our resident wine expert Lindsay Trivers from The Tasting Class has graciously advised us on what to pair with our pizza. “Look for white wine form Graves or Pessac-Léognan. These sub-regions is where most of Bordeaux best white ones come from. Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon are the main grape varieties and they provide citrus and grassy notes that bridge the green and herbal flavours from the pesto, artichoke and goat cheese. The more premium wines from these regions have been aged with the yeast left over from their alcoholic fermentation, and absorbed some savoury character that mirrors that of the goat cheese and artichoke too. Lastly, when white wines age they take on notes of nut and honey, bridging the flavours in this pairing beautifully.”

An outdoor BBQ simulates a pizza oven extremely well.  You can alternatively use the same method with an indoor grill or cast iron pan – please take note that you will have to alter the size of the dough to fit your pan.

This recipe is super versatile. Feel free to play with the ingredients and change the nuts or experiment with different cheeses. If you have some caramelized onions stashed in your fridge, feel free to throw some on with the honey and the nuts.

Pizza with Artichoke & walnut Pesto with Goat’s Cheese and Honey
For the pizza dough (makes two portions, divide dough in half and freeze remaining potion for another use):
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 & 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 400 grams Italian 00 flour (you can substitute all-purpose flour)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Dissolve the yeast in warm water. Let it sit for a few minutes until bubbles form at the top. Note: if the water is too hot, it will melt your yeast and could hinder your dough rising.

In a large bowl, mix together your flour and salt.  Create a well in the center of the flour, and gradually add the yeast mixture and olive oil.  Draw the flour in with your fingertips until well combined.  Then, start kneading the dough, with the heel of your hand until it is smooth and elastic, about five minutes.  Lightly line a bowl with olive oil, place your dough inside, and cover with a clean, dry dishcloth.  Let rise until doubled in bulk for thirty minutes to an hour (make sure it’s resting in a draft free place). Meanwhile, get on with your toppings.

For the toppings:
  • 150  grams walnuts
  • 200 grams artichokes from a can or jar, well-drained of their liquid
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 200 grams goat’s cheese (soft or unripened depending on preference), sliced
  • 150 grams toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup runny honey (more or less to taste), that’s been slightly warmed over bain-marie or microwave
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 150 grams toasted pine nus

Method:

Make the artichoke pesto:  combine artichokes and walnuts in the bowl of a hand-held mixer.  Pulse until the ingredients are combined, then slowly add olive oil. Continue to pulse until the mixture forms a touch, chunky paste. Set aside.

Preheat your grill to high heat (550 degrees Fahrenheit). If you are using a cast iron or grill pan, preheat to medium high.Place the pizza dough on a lightly floured cookie sheet, then carefully slide the dough onto the hot grill grates.
Close the lid of the grill and let cook for 2 minutes or until the top forks bubbles and the bottom is very well browned (you can even have black patches on the crust).

Remove from grill, brush bottom with olive oil (bubble side).
Spread on the artichoke and walnut pesto, followed by the parmesan, then the goat’s cheese.
Slide crust back on the grill, (bubbled side down).

Close the hood and grill until the cheese has melted and the pizza crust is cooked through. If you are using a pan indoors, either cover the pan with a lid, or it it is heatproof you can continue to bake in an oven preheated to 400 degrees. Add the pine nuts, drizzle with honey and black on the black pepper. Cut into slices and serve immediately!

Bon appetit!

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