August 24, 2014 By This Vegan Girl
I’ve been wanting to make a pizza with a pesto base for quite some time now. However, I just couldn’t seem to come up with ideal toppings for the pizza. I had found myself in a rut, using the same ingredients as toppings over and over. I decided to put off posting the recipe until I came up with the answer.
A week ago, we went to Clearwater, FL to celebrate Matt’s birthday with his parents. Matt’s mom, Gail, loves to cook, and she made him a spectacular dinner for his birthday. On the menu was this to-die-for fennel, red onion, and olive salad. The rest of the family had their salad topped with sea scallops, but even without, mine was incredible.
I kept thinking about that salad. I thought about it for the next week. I’m not a fan of fennel, or olives for that matter. Nonetheless, I kept thinking about how perfect it was.
It suddenly clicked that this winning salad combination might be my answer to my pesto base pizza woes. I acquired the recipe from Gail, put it on top of the pizza, and the result was out of this world. I always say this, but this time, I mean it; this is my new favorite pizza. Shh… don’t tell the others.
Fennel Salad Pizza with Pesto Base
Prep Time: 30-45 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: One pizza pie
For the Gluten-Free Crust: (see recipe here) (optional)
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 3/4 cup Water (warm)
- 1 tbs flax seed mixed with 3 tbs warm water
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1-1/2 cups GF all-purpose baking flour
- 2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
For the Fennel Salad:
- 5-6 fennel stalks OR 1 head of fennel, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup red onion, rinsed with cold water to reduce raw harshness
- 1 cup Castelvetrano olives, crushed and pitted
- 2 tbs fresh or dried tarragon
- 2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
For the Pesto Base:
- 1-2 handfuls of fresh basil, rinsed
- 1 handful of raw cashews
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
- 3 garlic cloves
- salt and pepper to taste
Step 1: Make the fennel salad.
The fennel salad needs to marinate for 20 minutes, so I think this should be numero uno.
I bought my olives at Whole Foods at their olive bar. Start by placing the olives in between sheets of parchment paper. Mash the olives with the palms of your hand. If it hurts your hand too much, a potato masher will probably do the trick. Once all the olives are mashed, remove the pits, separate the olives into smaller bits with your hands, and place in a bowl.
Next, chop up the red onion. Once chopped, place the red onion in a strainer, rinse off with cold water, and add it to the bowl of olives. Raw red onion is extremely harsh and has quite a bite to it, so we don’t need that type of drama here.
My knives are an embarrassment to the world of cooking, as I am a starving artist. Therefore, I had to pulse my fennel in the food processor to chop it properly. Hopefully, you don’t have these problems and can cut your fennel like a normal human being. Nevertheless, feel free to use my method.
Place the rest of the salad ingredients into the bowl. Mix and set aside. Let it marinate for at least 20 minutes.
Step 2: Prepare the gluten-free pizza crust. (optional)
Not everyone needs to make a gluten-free pizza crust. Not everyone wants to make a gluten-free pizza crust. However, if you do, I’ve found that Bob’s Red Mill’s website has provided the best recipe. View it here. (Substitute 1 tbs flax seed meal & 3 tbs warm water (mixed) for the egg to make it vegan.)
Your pizza crust should look like this when complete:
Gluten-free crust needs to be pre-cooked before adding any base or toppings to it. At 425º, cook the pizza crust for 7 minutes. Set aside.
Step 3: Food process the pesto base.
This is the easy part, and it’s the perfect thing to do while you’re waiting for your gluten-free crust to precook. Place all ingredients in a food processor and mix until creamy. Garlic bits are graciously accepted.
Step 4: Spread pesto base on pizza crust and bake.
Scoop the pesto with a spoon, then use the back of the spoon to smooth out the pesto throughout the crust.
Bake in the oven at 425º for another 5-7 minutes, until crust is golden brown.
Why bake the pesto, you ask? I think it gives the garlic a roast-y taste, which I like.
Step 5: Strain the marinade and scoop contents on top of pizza.
Straining the marinade is crucial. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with the most greasy pizza of all time, and that’s not what we’re about here. Just stick it in a colander, let the oil drip out for a few minutes, and scoop the remaining salad on top of the pizza.
I’d be surprised if you’ve had anything like this pizza before. It tastes so fresh. One thing I really like about this pizza is that the need for tons of salt is minimal, as the parsley and lemon take care of that. It throws so many flavors at you at once, but they all seem to complement each other so nicely. These flavors really have seemed to taken a liking to each other and get along so well. I think they’ll be friends for a long time to come, and my mouth isn’t complaining.
If you’re interested on trying any of my other pizzas, take a look at the following:
- the tomato base, Easy Ricotta Pizza
- the refried bean base, Mexican Pizza
- the hummus base, Hummus Pizza with Cucumber Cream Sauce
- the creamy garlic base, Creamy Dreamy Garlic Pizza
If you happen to try making this pizza and are on Instagram, take a picture of it and use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can take a peek. I’d love to see how it worked out for you. Don’t forget to add me on Facebook, too, as I post all my blog updates on there.