Pesto Pizza

I've mentioned before how much I love pesto because it is so versatile and has almost a magical quality in making any food taste delicious. Well, I need to add one more reason to love pesto - it makes my non-veggie eating husband eat this:

That's a pizza on a whole wheat crust covered with broccoli, bell peppers and spinach. Normally the spinach alone would make this a no-go in our house, but add pesto and all of a sudden it's not only acceptable, but "pretty good." (In my husband's words.) In my words, it's great, and a new favorite of mine. I love the whole wheat crust with dried basil and parmesan, and I love the ingenious use of spinach with pesto to make a sauce that not only tastes great, but has a beautiful green color. With the other green veggies, it's one of the prettiest pizzas I've ever made. 

I did have to add some cooked chicken to the original recipe per my husband's request ("Are you making a pizza or a salad?") but the pizza is good both with and without it. The only comment my husband made about the veggies was that he would prefer a little less broccoli on his pieces. 

Not, "No broccoli" just "Less broccoli." 

Behold, the power of pesto.

Pesto Veggie Pizza

1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 T canola oil
1T sugar
1T dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 to 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup prepared pesto
1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped fresh broccoli
3/4 cup chopped green or red pepper
2 green onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast
2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the Parmesan cheese, oil, sugar, basil, salt, all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining whole wheat flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).

2. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

3. Roll dough into a 16 inch x 12 inch rectangle. Transfer to a greased baking sheet: build up edges slightly. Prink dough with a fork. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

4. Meanwhile, in large saucepan, bring 1/2 in. of water to a boil. Add spinach; cover and boil for 3-5 minutes or until wilted. Drain and place in a food processor. Add pesto; cover and process until blended.

5. Spread over pizza crust. Top with broccoli, green pepper, green onions, garlic, chicken and mozzarella. Bake 10-12 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Recipe Source: Taste of Home Healthy Cooking

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