Basil and Garlic White Pizza

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File this under an actual conversation that really happened in real life.

Check-out boy at Stop and Shop, ringing in my new baby basil plant: Hey, I hear some people actually eat this stuff!

Me: Um, yes; it’s basil.

Check-Out Boy: Ew. It’s a plant.

Me: Yes, basil.

Check-Out Boy: If it grows in the ground, you won’t find me eating it!

Me: Like pretty much all vegetables? What about this pepper? (holding up a green bell pepper)

Check-Out Boy: That’s spicy, so it’s OK! But that (pointing at basil) is a plant and it has leaves. Why do I want to eat leaves?

Me: Because they taste good? And they’re healthy? Have you ever tried basil before?

Check-Out Boy: NO! I don’t eat plants!

At this point, I give up, collect my bags, and leave. LE SIGH.

And then I proceeded to go home and make a pizza with plants on it. Because I like plants. And also because I’ve never made a white pizza before and thought with all that cheese, I’d need a plant or two in my life. I was correct. Take that Stop and Shop check-out boy.

Basil and Garlic White Pizza (makes 1 large pizza):
Print this recipe!

  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 1/2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 batch whole wheat dough
  • 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut into slices
  • 1/2 C part-skin ricotta cheese
  • 1 small bunch basil
  • 1 oz. parmesan cheese, shaved

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I’m often scared to bake with whole wheat flour because I never know the correct ratio and am always scared the dough will come up a horrible consistency. But I totally trust Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, so when their Artisan Bread and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day came out I knew I would try their whole wheat pizza dough. I’m starting slowly with a mixed whole wheat and all-purpose flour recipe and it was perfect. Next time I’ll add more whole wheat flour to the mix.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (makes enough for 3 thin-crust pizzas):
Recipe adapted from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day
Print this recipe!

  • 1 3/4 C lukewarm water
  • 1/2 T yeast
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T sugar or honey
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
(pre-heat oven to 450 degrees)

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You’ll want to start by making the dough since it needs a good couple hours to rise. In a large bowl, simply combine the water, yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil. Normally I would have used honey since I LOVE honey in all whole wheat concoctions. But I oddly enough just ran out (I always have so much honey, I don’t know how I managed to let it all run out), so I used sugar instead. Both work!

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Now mix in the flour a cup at a time with a wooden spoon. No need to knead :) I ended up using 2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups white. It made for one of the most luscious crusts ever.

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Cover the bowl with a towel and set aside (it’s better if it’s in a warm environment). Two hours later, it should have risen quite a bit! I stuck mine in the fridge for about an hour after this since Jeff and Zoe told me the dough would be easier to work with if it was a bit cold. By the way, the leftover dough should last in your fridge, covered (but not airtight), for about 5 days. Good to know, right?

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Then I got started on the toppings! I mixed together my 5 cloves of garlic (YUM!) and 2 1/2 T olive oil in a small bowl.

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I chopped my mozzarella and shaved my parmesan cheese.

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After sprinkling some flour on my work surface, I rolled out my dough into a round that would fit on my foil covered baking pan.

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Then I placed the dough on the  foil-covered pan, which was brushed with the remaining 1 T olive oil (note: You can totally use a pizza stone for this recipe, too. I’m generally obsessed with mine, but sometimes I find just throwing it on the pan easier for quick weeknight dinners).

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And used a pastry brush to cover the dough in the beautifully fragrant garlic olive oil mixture.

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Layer slices of mozzarella on top. And spoon crumbles of ricotta cheese around.

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Then cover with basil leaves (making sure to reserve some leaves for after the pizza is cooked) and finally, parmesan cheese shavings.

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It looks delicious already, right? Even with the leaves scattered on top?

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Now, bake the pizza at 450 degrees for about 18-22 minutes.

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And you’ll be rewarded with a classic-looking white pizza. Call me crazy, but I love the little burn marks on top of the cheese. Burnt cheese=best ever!

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Don’t forget to chiffonade your leftover basil and sprinkled that around, as well.

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This ended up being one of my biggest pizza successes! Which is saying a lot because I’ve made a lot of pizzas in my time and have really, really loved many of them.

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The crust was honestly perfect. Delightfully chewy, but not overly so. Hearty without being heavy. And way more satisfying than the typical all-purpose flour crust. I don’t think I’ll ever go back again. I mean that. Plus that garlic? Oh my God, that garlic. This pizza was absolutely slathered in it. “Slathered in garlic.” Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it?

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This was a pretty large pizza, too, and made dinner for a couple nights. As you know, these are my very favorite types of meals.

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And all those leaves on top? They may have been the best part. Oh Stop and Shop Check-Out Boy, how I wish I could have brought you a slice. Maybe then you could have seen how glorious plants are. And not just those “spicy” peppers that are actually bell peppers.

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And thus starts my favorite part of year. The part where I always have a thriving basil plant sitting on my windowsill. The part where I never have to buy basil from the grocery store and I can make Beef Basil whenever my little heart pleases, with extra basil. And the part where I can mix cocktails with basil and sprinkle a little bit on absolutely everything I make. The part that lasts at least until I forget to water my poor basil plant and kill him off. Er, not that that will happen this year. I’m determined to give my basil plant a run for its money and keep it going straight into winter. Because I see a lot more pizzas like this in my future!

Do you keep a basil plant (or other herbs) at home?

[Sues]

23 Comments

  • Looks AWESOME, ladies!

    May 22, 2012 5:47 am
  • haha, what a funny conversation- bet he doesn’t know how many times he’s eaten basil before :)

    May 22, 2012 6:57 am
  • That checkout boy is seriously missing out, this pizza sounds amazing!

    May 22, 2012 8:01 am
  • Katie said:

    Looks yummy!!! – even with the leaves on top :)

    May 22, 2012 8:26 am
  • Stephanie said:

    First of all I have all three of the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day books and have been a bread-making fiend since receiving them! I made a 1/3 whole wheat roll this morning for my lunch! Secondly, I have now accidentally killed both a basil and a parsley plant so I have given up on growing herbs in my apartment. Looking forward to trying this pizza! I looove garlic :)

    May 22, 2012 8:59 am
  • wow, that conversation w/ the checkout boy is hilarious!

    I actually just bought a basil plant this weekend myself, I think I’ll have to put it to good use with this recipe!

    May 22, 2012 9:25 am
  • I LOVE a good white pizza. Sometimes the red sauce is just unnecessary :)

    May 22, 2012 9:25 am
  • Michelle said:

    Ha! That conversation is hysterical!

    May 22, 2012 9:34 am
  • Yum! Well, I love plants and would have been equally frustrated with that check out boy. We’re growing some herbs (or attempting to) in planters outsides. So far the arugula and spinach are doing much better than the basil!

    May 22, 2012 9:37 am
  • Christine said:

    The conversation scares me…but the pizza looks lovely!

    How do you keep your basil plant alive? Mine always die after a week :-(

    May 22, 2012 10:29 am
  • I love white pizza. And yes, “slathered in garlic” almost sounds like music to my ears!

    May 22, 2012 10:30 am
  • Ohh yum! I love light pizzas like this! And that’s so funny the guy didn’t think plants were food? What does he think salad is?

    May 22, 2012 10:41 am
  • Windy P. said:

    That pizza looks fab. Heck yea I keep basil plants at home. Summer isn’t summer without all my herb plants. Have to have basil, mint, thyme, sage and lemon verbena at a minimum! I confess that I use the basil and the mint the absolute most.

    May 22, 2012 11:51 am
  • this pizza looks delish, but white pizza + boy who won’t eat plants= flashbacks to my ex BF who patently REFUSED to eat vegetables or fruits. the entire four years we dated, he never ate ANYTHING but meat, cheese, and bread. not even herbs! four years of pizza with *no* red sauce!

    May 22, 2012 12:49 pm
  • em said:

    seriously…nothing that comes from the ground?! no wonder most americans are constipated and have heart disease. :)

    my boyfriend and i love pizza, especially anything involving basil. we need to try this!

    May 22, 2012 8:32 pm
  • Meghan said:

    That is hilarious! I often have check out people asking what my vegetables are to ring them up.
    I love white pizza, looks great!

    May 23, 2012 8:21 am
  • that checkout boy is ridiculous! the people at the grocery store never seem to know what i’m buying, or they crush produce when bagging using my reusable bags. so i just do self checkout most of the time. ha :) this pizza looks so flavorful!

    May 23, 2012 2:04 pm
  • AllieBeau said:

    Rolling my eyes and laughing at the checkout boy. I bet he eats pizza… I would love for someone to explain cheese/dairy in general to the kid.

    This looks delicious. Basil is my favorite as well – in limeade/lime cocktails, and just wrapped around cherry tomatoes, and just fresh from the garden…so good!

    Hope your final weeks leading up to your wedding are going smoothly–congratulations!!

    May 23, 2012 5:19 pm
  • Reeni said:

    That is beyond hilarious! If I knew him I’d trick him into eating a whole bunch of plants. I’d puree them up in pesto or something hee-hee. The pizza looks amazing! I grow lots of herbs!

    May 23, 2012 8:42 pm
  • Shannon said:

    ha, i don’t eat plants. love this pizza :) a better version of the white pizza i grew up eating!

    May 24, 2012 1:52 pm
  • Christina said:

    Think of it this way, you planted a seed in that young man and he will pause whenever he sees basil.
    Or not.

    Your pizza looks wonderful! I like a traditional tomato pizza, but sometimes I get tired of it. White pizza ftw.

    May 25, 2012 8:52 pm
  • Megan said:

    I’ll eat any plants that taste like basil, especially on a pizza like this one!

    May 25, 2012 10:35 pm
  • linday said:

    I made this (or an adaptation) a few nights ago and added crimini mushrooms and then arugula after it came out of the oven. It was AMAZING…better than any restaurant! Thank you!

    July 8, 2012 2:47 pm

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