Pesto, Ham and Cheese Pizza

Making your own pizza can be fun, cheap and fast, as fast as delivery usually is. I found a pizza recipe using a commercial baking mix that I like, some pesto concentrate we had in the refrigerator, mozzarella cheese, green peppers and diced ham. The crust wasn’t like most pizza crusts, but that’s because the baking mix using leavening instead of yeast. This would be a great version to adapt to a breakfast pizza since the crust is a little biscuit-like.

Pesto, ham and cheese pizza.
Pesto, ham and cheese pizza.

As I always say, pizza doesn’t have to have a tomato sauce base and greasy meats like sausage and pepperoni. This is a good example. For this you’ll need a pizza pan, a mixing bowl, a fork and your ingredients:

  • 3 cups baking mix (I like the low-fat version)
  • 2/3 cup very hot water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 sticks of string cheese cut in half lengthwise or 4 oz. strips of mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup pesto (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1-3/4 cups shredded mozzarella (I make my own with a box grater and a 16 oz. chunk of cheese)
  • 1-1/2 cups of bell pepper strips (For best results use a combination of green, yellow and red peppers)

A note here about the baking mix. Yes, it’s a processed food product. But if you look at the ingredients, you’ll see that it’s really not that much different than you would make at home. And you can make it at home, especially if you have a food processor. The hard part is cutting the fat into the flour. If you do make your own, remember it will have to stay in the refrigerator. Otherwise, the fat will go rancid. That’s why the commercial stuff uses hydrogenated oil, one of two ingredients we don’t like. The other is the preservatives. But the low-fat, heart-healthy version is as close to homemade as you can get with minimal bad stuff and the convenience of not having to spend a lot of time cutting the fat into the flour.

First, put your oven rack at the lowest position. This is always a good idea when making any pizza. You want lots of heat to make it work well. Heat the oven to 425. Grease well your pizza pan. For a crispier crust, sprinkle a bit of cornmeal on it.

With a fork, blend together the baking mix, oil and water in a large bowl until you get a soft dough. Continue beating the dough for 20 strokes. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for about eight minutes.

Turn the dough out onto your greased pizza pan (12″ is best) and press the dough all around the bottom and up over the lip of the pan. Try to get the dough as thin as you can without holes. Try to push and squeeze the dough around the outside of the pan for about an inch if you can.

Place the string cheese around the edge of the dough and fold the dough over the cheese, creating a stuffed crust. Make sure you seal the edges well into the bottom dough.

Bake the crust for 6 to 7 minutes until lightly browned then remove. On the hot crust spread the pesto over it evenly. Top with the pepper strips and ham. Then spread the shredded mozzarella over the whole thing in an even layer.

Bake the finished pizza for 11 to 14 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the edge of the crust is golden brown. Allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into 6 to 8 wedges.

All this takes about 45 minutes. It looks nice and tastes good, even if the crust is a little different.

Pizza is very adaptable. Get creative and get cooking.