This poblano pizza is just a touch spicy but HUGE on flavor. Trust me: Once you master the poblano pesto sauce, cilantro-lime crema, and chili powder pepitas, you'll want to include them in all your meals.
The poblano is by far my favorite type of chile. Mostly because it's one of the mildest ones (I'm a wimp when it comes to spiciness), but also because they're green bell peppers' sexier cousins. They're intriguing, a little dangerous, and their deep, vegetal flavor lingers in your memory long after the meal is over.
So, naturally, I had to make a pizza love letter to my favorite pepper. And, yeah, it's just as delicious as it looks. Here's the breakdown:
About the Recipe
The Poblano Pesto Sauce
For the pesto, I started with this recipe by Grace Parisi and made a few small tweaks. The result is very mild and full of flavor; if you want more heat, leave the seeds on the poblanos.
Zucchini and poblanos are in season at the same time here in Pennsylvania, so it makes sense to use the summer squash in this super-green pizza. They add another layer of vegetal sweetness and texture, and the rounds are also nice to look at. (There really is something to that statement, "you eat with your eyes first.") The only topping other than the pesto and zucchini is crumbled feta cheese, which adds tangy, salty notes and yet another layer of texture to the finished pizza.
So simple, yet revolutionary. Creamy mayo and sour cream, puckery lime zest and juice, dried chile flakes, and salt combine to make a delicious topping or dip for . . . anything. Obviously save this batch for the pizza, but try it next time with tortilla chips and raw carrot sticks, or dolloped over tacos or grain bowls.
Not only do the pepitas add crunch and an extra pop of flavor to the pizza, but they also add healthy protein, making this a satisfying meal. I tossed them with some regular chili powder and a little salt, but if you have chipotle chili powder on hand, that might be even better.
How to make Poblano Pesto Pizza, Step by Step
Time needed: 45 minutes
Yes, there are a lot of steps in this recipe. However, if you follow along as it's written, you'll find that this pizza is actually very easy to make. (And it includes crema and poblano pesto recipes that you'll want to use on all the things.)
- Preheat the oven and make the crema.
First, set your 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).
Then, stir together some sour cream, mayo, lime zest and juice, salt, and dried red chile flakes, cover, and refrigerate. This zesty crema will chill and deepen in flavor as you make the poblano pesto and bake the pizza.
- Char the poblanos, garlic, and scallions.
Once you've finished making the crema, place the poblanos, unpeeled garlic cloves, and whole scallions in a large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until the chiles are charred on one side; that char will give the poblano pesto an amazing, smoky flavor. Plus, the garlic basically roasts right in the skillet, transforming to a tender, buttery texture.
- Make the poblano pesto.
Buzz together the charred veggies, some crumbled feta, chopped cilantro, salt, pepper, and olive oil. This is the sauce for your poblano pizza. (Plus, you can also use it as a dip or sandwich spread if you have leftovers or make a double batch.)
- Stretch or roll out the dough, add the toppings, and bake the pizza.
If you're baking your pizza on a baking stone or steel, switch your oven to Broil on high.
Spread the poblano pesto on a stretched- or rolled-out ball of pizza dough. Top with thinly sliced zucchini and crumbled feta cheese, then transfer to the oven. Bake (or Broil) until the crust is evenly browned on the bottom and the cheese is browned in spots.
- Toast the pepitas.
While the pizza bakes, toast some pepitas in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, shaking frequently. As soon as they start to brown, remove the skillet from the heat and pour the pepitas into a small heatproof bowl. (They will start to make freaky popping noises; that's normal!) Toss the pepitas with a pinch of salt and some chili powder.
- Finish the poblano pizza with the crema and pepitas; slice and serve.
Take the crema out of the fridge and scoop it into a zip-top bag and snip off one bottom corner. Pipe the crema onto the pizza (or use a spoon to dollop it evenly). Sprinkle with the seasoned pepitas and some chopped fresh cilantro. Slice and serve!
Poblano Pesto Pizza with Zucchini, Feta, and Cilantro-Lime Crema
- Microplane zester
- Cutting board and knife
- Food processor
- Rolling pin (optional)
- Large rimmed baking sheet or baking stone/steel
- Pizza peel (optional)
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems discarded, packed ¼ cup of leaves reserved for the pesto, 3 tablespoons finely chopped for the crema and pizza
- ¾ teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
- Juice of ½ lime
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided, plus more as needed
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon dried red chile flakes
- 2 large poblano chiles, halved lengthwise, core and seeds scooped out and discarded
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for coating the vegetables
- 2 scallions, roots and 1 inch of ends trimmed off and discarded
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled by hand, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 large garlic cloves, smashed with the side of a large knife but not peeled
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball pizza dough
- 1 small zucchini, very thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons raw unsalted pepitas
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 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.
To make the cilantro-lime crema
- In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro, the lime zest and juice, ¼ teaspoon salt, and the red chile flakes. Taste and season with more salt as needed. Cover and refrigerate while you make the poblano pesto and bake the pizza. (Makes about ⅔ cup)
To make the poblano pesto
- Place a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Pour a little olive oil onto the palms of your hands and rub it all over the cut poblanos, scallions, and unpeeled garlic cloves. When the skillet is very hot (just beginning to smoke), add the poblanos, skin-side down, then scatter the scallions and garlic around them. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, pressing down hard on the poblanos with a wooden spatula, until the skin-sides of the poblanos are evenly charred. (As you press down on the poblanos in the skillet, don't worry if you feel and hear them spitting and popping; that's a good thing!)
- Turn off the heat and transfer the vegetables to a plate; let them cool for about 5 minutes.
- Peel or scrape off as much of the poblanos' skins as you can, then roughly chop the poblanos. Cut the scallions into 1-inch pieces, and peel the garlic.
- Place the poblanos, scallions, and garlic in a food processor and add the ¼ cup packed cilantro leaves, ⅓ cup crumbled feta, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Pulse until every thing is finely chopped, then pour in ¼ cup of olive oil and process until the pesto is mostly smooth but still has some texture. (You should have about 1 cup of pesto.)
To assemble and bake the pizza
- 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).
- Spread about ¾ cup of the pesto over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border all around. Arrange the sliced zucchini on top and sprinkle with the remining ⅔ cup of crumbled feta.
- Transfer the pizza to the oven and bake until the crust evenly browned on the bottom and around the edges and the cheese has browned in spots—8 to 10 minutes on the baking sheet, 6 to 8 minutes on the baking stone/steel.
- While the pizza bakes, toast the pepitas in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, just until they start to brown. Immediately transfer them to a small bowl and toss with the chili powder and a pinch of salt.
- Remove the pizza from the oven. Dollop or pipe the crema on top of the pizza. (I like to scoop it into a small zip-top bag, snip off one bottom corner, and squeeze it onto the pizza in a pretty spiral, but you could also just a small spoon to dot the pizza with crema). Sprinkle with the pepitas and a tablespoon or so of finely chopped cilantro; slice and serve.
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