An herbaceous beet pesto pizza to celebrate the first hints of spring. (Pro tip: you'll want to use this pesto sauce on all the things!)
You can make this recipe any time of year, but March and April are the best months for its earthy-sweet flavor and jewel toned color, at least in the Northeast United States. Here in Philadelphia, spring is just beginning to toy with our emotions, gusting in with week-long stretches of chilly rain, then one or two warmer, sunny days, then frost once more . . . just when we believe winter has gone. And like clockwork, even in the most chaotic cold-warm-cold-warm weather, my chives—the first green things in the garden—pierce the soil and grow straight upward like gentle, slender swords.
As soon as there are enough chives to harvest a fistful, I buy a large red beet, some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, pine nuts, and a lemon to make Roasted Beet Pesto Sauce. Then, I grab a log of fresh goat cheese and a few other herbs, and I make this beet pesto pizza. You might say it's my love letter to this in-between season, when winter opens the door to leave and spring pokes her head around to say, "Hey! Did you miss me?"
How to Make Beet Pesto Pizza
This beauty comes together really easily, especially if you make the beet pesto sauce ahead of time. Here are the basic steps:
- Make the beet pesto sauce (or buy it pre-made at the grocery store). It takes a little over an hour to make your own sauce for this pizza, but I promise it is 100% worth it. However, if your grocery store or market sells a yummy beet pesto, feel free to save yourself the time and use that instead.
- Prepare your dough and preheat the oven. Any traditional pizza dough will work for this recipe, but I'm partial to my 1-Hour, Overnight, Thin Crust, and Whole Wheat recipes. Mix it and let it ferment/rise. Then, while the dough rests, preheat your oven according to the instructions below.
- Stretch and top the dough. Roll or stretch out the dough, then brush it with olive oil, slather it with the roasted beet pesto, and top with crumbled goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little more olive oil.
- Bake and finish the pizza. Bake according to the instructions below. When the pizza is done, take it out of the oven and sprinkle chopped fresh herbs on top. Enjoy!
Beet Pesto Pizza with Goat Cheese and Fresh Herbs
- Food processor
- Pizza peel (optional)
- Large rimmed baking sheet or baking stone/steel
- Cutting board and knife
- 1 (14 to 16-ounce) ball pizza dough (My 1-Hour, Overnight, Sourdough, Whole Wheat, New York Style, and Neapolitan dough will all work great for this recipe)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ to 1 cup Roasted Beet Pesto Sauce or store-bought beet pesto
- 4 ounces fresh goat cheese (chevre), crumbled (1 cup)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped chives
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped dill
- Preheat the oven to 500°F (if using a baking sheet) or as high as it will go (if using a baking stone/steel; place the stone in the top third or place the steel in the bottom third of the oven before you start preheating). Let the oven preheat for at least 30 minutes. Then, if you’re using a baking stone or steel, switch the oven to Broil on high.
- Stretch or roll out your dough to a 12- to 14-inch circle, then transfer it to a baking sheet / pizza pan or a lightly floured pizza peel (if using a baking stone/steel).
- Brush the dough lightly with olive oil, making sure to get all the way to the edges. Spoon the beet pesto sauce onto the dough and spread it out evenly, leaving a ½-inch border all the way around. Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese on top, season with a big pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper, and drizzle with a little olive oil.
- Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the crust is golden around the edges and evenly browned on the bottom—8 to 10 minutes on the baking sheet, 5 to 8 minutes on the baking stone/steel.
- Remove the pizza from the oven and top it with the chopped fresh herbs. Slice and serve.