Classy Friday Night Pizza with Avocado, Pesto and Rocket

Everyone reading will have that -end-of-the-week feeling when you are too tired, cooking is out of the question, and dinner is just a phonecall away to the local pizza place. Friday nights certainly mean Netflix, Gossip Girl, copious amounts of soft drink, and a big, cheesy, nice, fat pizza. The taste of the warm, crispy base, topped with a tomato-y sauce, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil makes one wish for warmer weather.

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The pizza place I use for my end-of-the-week lifeline is certainly good, but I often catch myself wanting something fresher and warmer. Maybe greener and brighter in colour, with an intense flavour, and an aroma to boot. Perhaps something more Instagrammable too!

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Nothing makes the food critic more discerning and discriminating than the TV honestly…

This pesto, avocado and rocket pizza is the answer to wanting a freshly baked pizza without the costs, and the effort. You can make the pesto yourself – I used Jamie Oliver’s Basil Pesto, and mixed it with some Homebrand mayonnaise. After it was ready, I piped it over the avocado so the two flavours could meld together.

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You can make the dough, and shape any leftover dough and freeze it away for use later. It tastes better than the store bought bases.

Honestly use whatever toppings you like. I have a particular weakness for avocado with pesto – the result is a perfectly nutty, fresh flavour, and there was rocket and basil in the house. I used buffalo mozarella wth some Homebrand cheddar cheese underneath so I didn’t miss the quintessential cheesy texture of pizza.

For the topping, I used store bought pizza base sauce – I recommend Leggo’s. Fresh green basil leaves are a must for a summery, sunny flavour, and cherry tomatoes, or a Roma tomato elevates the ripe taste of this meal. I put the sauce, tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and chopped cheddar on the base (in that order) and popped it in the oven while we chose something to watch on Netflix. After 12 minutes or so, I got the pizza out, and used half an avocado, cut into slices to top the pizza, and then added my pesto aioli on top. I then sprinkled with rocket.

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I’ve provided the recipe for the base, from a Taste magazine, and my pizza. This makes 4 sort of medium sized pizzas, or two large ones.

Pizza Dough

  • 3 1/2 cups of bread and pizza flour.  I used Lighthouse brand.
  • 2 tsp instant dried yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 300 warm water
  • 1 1/2 tbs olive oil, and then extra to grease.

Method:

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl then stir in the yeast. Mix in the salt and sugar with a spoon to combine.
  2. Make a well in the centre, and pour in the olive oil and lukewarm water. Stir until just combined, and then use your hands to crunch the dough together.
  3. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Grease a large clean bowl with the olive oil, and put the dough in it and turn to coat in oil. Cover with a tea towel.
  4. After 1 hour or when the dough has doubled in size, knead the dough briefly to knock out the oil and tip onto the floured surface. Roll it out into a circle to fit your size specification.

If you want to plan ahead then roll out the remainder into a circle, wrap it in foil. You can keep it in the freezer for a month. Just before you use it bring the base back to room temperature.

Pizza

  • Pizza base
  • Toppings
  • Pizza sauce
  • Cheese of your choice

For Pesto Aioli

  • 2 tbs mayonnaise
  • 1 tbs basil pesto sauce

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 230 C. Prepare your pizza tray by covering it with baking paper, then keeping it in the oven. This heats up the tray, ensuring an even browning to the underside of the base.
  2. Spread a tablespoon of sauce onto your pizza, then add toppings of your choice (see above for ideas). If following my example, add everything except rocket, avocado and pesto aioli.
  3. Put pizza in oven for 10-12 minutes. You should smell it and the edges should be browning.
  4. Add the remainder of toppings.

Curl up on your couch with a slice (or 4!) of your home-made pizza, a glass of your favourite beverage, a favourite person or pet, and laptop or remote. Pat yourself on the back – this takes exactly the same amount of time as it does for Crust to arrive at your doorstep.

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