Homemade Pizza with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, and Pesto


Roasted Tomatoes:

12 cherry tomatoes with stems

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


2 garlic cloves

1 1/2 bunches fresh basil leaves (about 1 1/2 cups lightly packed)

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


All purpose flour, for dusting

Two 8-ounce balls purchased pizza dough

6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese (preferably buffalo)

4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper



The pesto can be made up to 2 days ahead. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pesto and refrigerate.

To prepare the pizza stone:

Place a large pizza stone on the bottom shelf in the oven and position the second shelf in the upper third of the oven, then preheat the oven to 475°F. Heating the pizza stone well in advance will allow enough time for it to become very hot before baking the pizzas on it. Baking on the very hot stone will create pizzas with crisp crusts.

To roast the tomatoes:

Lay the tomatoes on a nonreactive baking sheet and drizzle lightly with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set the baking sheet on the second shelf in the oven and roast the tomatoes in the oven until they are tender and begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, to make the pesto:

Using a Bump and Grind or another large mortar and pestle, smash the garlic into a coarse puree. Add 1 1/2 bunches of the basil and pound until it is coarsely chopped. Add the pine nuts and smash to break them up. Mix in 1/3 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Slowly mix in 1/3 cup of the olive oil.  Season the pesto to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

To prepare the pizzas:

Lightly dust the work surface with flour and press 1 ball of dough on the work surface into a circle. Continue to press and pull the dough into a thin irregularly-shaped disk that is about 10 inches in diameter, being careful not to over work the gluten in the flour by over kneading it.

Lay a silicone baking mat on a pizza paddle, then lay the pizza dough on the mat. Spread 1/4 cup of the pesto sauce in a thin layer over the pizza dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge.

Arrange half of the roasted tomatoes over the pizza. Tear the mozzarella into long stringy pieces and scatter half of them over the pizza. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese over the pizza.

Immediately slide the pizza (still on the baking mat) off of the paddle and onto the hot baking stone in the oven. Bake the pizza for about 12 minutes or until the bottom is crisp and deep golden brown and the cheese has melted and become pale golden on top.

Using the pizza paddle, remove the pizza (still on the baking mat) from the stone then slide the pizza off of the mat and onto a cutting board.

Scatter half of the basil leaves over the pizza. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using a pizza wheel or large sharp knife, cut the pizza into pieces and serve. Repeat to make a second pizza.

After the second pizza has finished baking, turn the oven off, leaving the baking stone in the oven to cool slowly.