This is what you should be eating when tomatoes are in season: Fresh tomato pizza with pesto sauce, tangy goat cheese, and milky-sweet mozzarella.
I come from a long line of vegetable gardeners—the kind that join horticulture societies and win ribbons at local flower shows. Instead of a family-mandated brand of car, we have a mandated seed supplier (PA-based Burpee Seed Company). When I was young, my parents grew so many Early Girl, Big Boy, and Beefsteak tomatoes each summer that they'd ship foam coolers of them to my dad's family in Washington State and force my sister and me to leave pyramids of the rotund, ripe fruits on all our neighbors' doorsteps. So, you can imagine the pressure I feel every spring when I sow my order of Burpee seeds in my little urban raised-bed garden.
Even more so, you can imagine my excitement when I caught a glimpse of the first ripe beefsteak through the leaves of my strong, tall tomato plants last week. This pesto and fresh tomato pizza is a celebration of that moment, and an ode to the family tradition that first sparked my love of food.
If you want to use basil, spinach, or another fresh herb for your pesto sauce, go ahead and sub it in. I chose arugula pesto because of its subtle bitterness, which accents the tomato's sweet flavor, but any fresh herb pesto will be delicious here.
Looking for more pesto pizza recipes? Try one of these:
- Beet Pesto Pizza with Goat Cheese
- Grilled Pear Pizza with Pesto
- Green Bean Pizza with Parsley Pesto and Blue Cheese
- Fresh Corn and Pesto Pizza
- Root-to-Top Carrot Pizza
Pesto and Fresh Tomato Pizza
- Cutting board and knife
- Rolling pin (optional)
- Large rimmed baking sheet or baking stone/steel
- Pizza peel (optional)
- pastry brush
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball pizza dough
- ⅔ to ¾ cup Mint and Arugula Pesto (or you're favorite homemade or store-bought pesto sauce)
- 2 ounces soft goat cheese crumbled
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 medium to large ripe tomato thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, arugula, or basil
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 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/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 an oiled or parchment-lined baking sheet or a lightly floured pizza peel (if using a baking stone/steel).
- Spoon the pesto onto the dough and spread it out evenly—using your hands or a spatula. Scatter on the crumbled goat cheese, followed by the mozzarella cubes. Lay the tomato slices on top in a single layer.
- Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the crust is golden and the cheese has browned in spots—8 to 10 minutes on the baking sheet, 6 to 8 minutes on the baking stone/steel.
- Remove the pizza from the oven. Season with a pinch or two of salt and a few grinds of black pepper,scatter on the fresh herbs, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Slice and serve.