Nikol’s Chicken Pesto Pizza

IMG 0069This happens pretty regularly: whenever I invite a girlfriend over for movies and a homemade meal, I always lean towards pizza. Pizza? What? Does that sound boring to you? Well, I love love love it! You have so many choices. The best I’ve made so far has had to be the buffalo chicken pizza on whole wheat crust, but tonight I decided to make something a little different: chicken pesto pizza topped with lots of veggies and mozzarella. Another of the hundred things I love about pizza is how you can use whatever you have in your fridge, and it’ll probably taste amazing.

The plan for this evening was to watch The Antichrist and munch on crisp pizza, and to make this happen, I only needed a few things:
Netflix? Check – thanks to my sister Stephanie for letting me use her account. Whole wheat pizza dough? Check – thank you, Fresh & Easy for being so wonderful; your crust is the best. Garlic-free pesto? Check – thank you to my other sister, Melissa, who found this for me while she was travelling in Italy.

The rest came pretty easily since I always have frozen chicken, spinach, mushrooms and crushed red pepper on hand.

Nikol’s Chicken Pesto Pizza

Prep time:
30 minutes

Cook time:
45 minutes (depends on how crunchy you want your crust and whether or not you are a crust pre-baker like I am)

Pesto – homemade or store bought, just to your taste; it’s a little strong for me, so I do a thin layer
Pizza crust – homemade or store bought
Chicken breast – about 1/2 cup
Flour – 1/4 cup to roll out the dough
Spinach – 1/2 cup
Peppers chopped up – 1/4 cup
Mushrooms – 1/4 cup
White onion – 1/4 cup
Crushed red chili pepper – as much as you can handle

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To prep I start by letting my pizza crust come to room temperature (it is much easier to work with that way), then I preheat my oven and my pizza stone. The benefit of a pizza stone is that once it heats up, it will hold heat better than a cookie sheet, giving you a nicer bottom on your crust. I sliced up all of my vegetables beforehand and set them aside, and as I have a tendency to cut myself, this can take me a while. I like to sauté the onions until they are soft, but that it’s not necessary; I just don’t enjoy a raw onion at all.
Because my chicken is frozen, I have to also get that ready. I don’t thaw my frozen chicken; I just heat a pan with some olive oil and throw my tenders in—usually about 6. To cook the chicken throughout, it takes me about 20 minutes, and while I’m doing that I have a glass of red wine, maybe 2, depending on how work went that day 🙂

Once my oven is hot (This is such a bad idea during this crazy heat wave. I would’ve waited until it cooled down, but my apartment stays hot for hours), and my chicken is cooked, I am pizza-ready. I spread the flour out on my counter top and roll my dough in it, sometimes I like to use my hands, but today I decided to use a roller, so I also put flour on that, making sure it wouldn’t stick to the dough. Once it’s to the size and shape that I like, I use a towel to pull out my pizza stone. I put the crust on it, and then place just the crust back in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes. After a few mishaps, I’ve decided that doing this gives me less of a wet pizza. I prefer for the sauce to not soak into my crust, but this step is up to you. Once it’s done baking, there are usually air bubbles, and I just pop those with a knife.

Once my dough is on the counter, then I can start to place my toppings, but this is really up to you. I like my pizza like my burritos: stuffed and hard to eat because of all of the toppings. I start with the pesto, then the cheese and then go crazy with veggies and chicken. I save the seasoning for the end and voila! Pizza! Don’t eat it yet though; it’s time to bake!

After it’s all set and just as crispy as you would like it, slice it up and eat it all.

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