Friday, September 11, 2009

Chicken, Red Grape and Pesto Pizza...

I can't believe we've been doing this Friday Night Pizza for a little over a year now and we're still chuggin' along with new recipes! To bring this work week to a close, we went with a slightly unusual Chicken, Red Grape and Pesto Pizza. "Slightly unusual" because when one thinks of pizza, I don't think red grapes are the first ingredient that comes to mind!

No surprise I'm sure, but hauling out our food processor to prepare our favorite whole-wheat pizza dough got us going tonight. And, as always, you don't have to make your own dough to enjoy homemade pizza - many local pizza shops let you buy their prepared house-made dough or you could pick up one from the market. Thinking ahead about the moisture content of the toppings, after we stretched out the dough, we went ahead and tossed it onto the pre-heated stone to partially bake through - just long enough to set the top and give the bottom a light golden hue.

Instead of a red sauce, we slathered the base of the pizza in a healthy layer of thick basil pesto - I had just cut back the basil plants in the garden to zap together a batch the other day (have to get the stash in the freezer going for winter use!) and set enough aside for this pizza. I rarely make the exact same pesto, but what I tend to follow is plenty of fresh basil, toasted nuts (pine nuts, walnuts or sometimes even pepitas), a clove or two of garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and enough oil to process. If I need a lighter pesto, I'll hold back some of the oil (usually adding at least 2 to 3 tablespoons) and make up the rest with broth.

Once the pesto was on, we scattered halved red grapes over, followed by shredded cooked chicken that we had simply seasoned with salt and fresh ground black pepper beforehand. If you don't want to cook up a couple chicken breasts yourself for this, a rotisserie one from the market would work - just shred up the whole bird and save the extra in the freezer for the next time you need it. We dotted the top of the pizza with thin slices of fresh garlic and then it was finally time for cheese - fresh mozzarella and just a touch of Romano.

Fresh ground black pepper was the last touch before we slid the pizza back in to finish baking. After it came out, for a mild onion-y bite, we sprinkled thinly sliced scallions over the gooey cheese just before we took our handy pizza rocker and sliced the crust into wedges. Tangy, sweet, savory and quite simply put in one word, delicious, we went a little crazy and forgot about the salad I made to go with and just settled in with way too many slices. Grapes may sound weird (though not so much to us after we made that focaccia), but it is really no different than putting pineapple on pizza... same concept with each lending their juicy, sweet and slightly tart punches. Three garlic cloves may sound like a lot to put on the pizza raw, but don't skimp - by thinly slicing it, the heat of the oven works its magic to mellow them out, calming their harshness. I think we'll up it to four or maybe five (if small) cloves next time.


  1. Oo- I think that grapes sound fantastic. What a great idea!

  2. Pizza is definitely not one of my favorite foods, but this one looks great.

  3. Appropriate pizza toppings are in the eye [mouth?] of the eater. In Hamburg, Germany, you can get a pizza called the "Mandarin." It had chicken, Mandarin oranges, and corn [yes, corn] along with the usual sauce and cheese. I liked it, but I also like pastrami, onions, and pineapple on pizza [our pizza guy always knows which pizza to give my husband when he picks up our order without my husband having to say his name].

  4. Can't believe you find amazing recipes for Friday Night Pizza always. Have you ever tried another crust recipe? I like Cook's Illustrated one. I'm having success with it.

  5. Taryn - We thought it was a nice combination in the end!

    Nancy - Thanks!

    Suzanne - Interesting!

    Helene - We have, but always gravitate back towards the whole-wheat version.