Pizza Lab #13: Pesto Green Pizza
Pizza Lab is a fun theoretical column in which Meg A. and Erik S. explore their innermost passion for baking and eating pizzas. It exists purely for the sake of experimenting in the kitchen. It may not necessarily be cost-effective everytime, so don’t try this at home kids.
With the holidays finally over, everyone is finally back in gear, with it being the third week of January. Here at Poor Couple’s Food Guide, we’re back at work in our secret laboratory churning out awesome recipes for everyone to enjoy. That’s not to say we took an entire break over Christmas! It wouldn’t be a month without Pizza Lab, and as such we made one for both experimentation of using green-colored cheese, as well as to give us something edible in the Italian-American seafood onslaught known as Christmas Eve. Winter can be tough, and January is a relatively crummy month since it’s host to blizzards, long periods of days below freezing, and post-Christmas bouts of depression. If you fall into the latter category, then we have a month-late surprise to cheer you up!
For anyone unfamiliar or without Italian heritage, traditionally families come together and cook copious amounts of fish and seafood on Christmas Eve, because why not celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ than by eating tentacles and shells of mucus? In case you haven’t been able to tell yet, Meg and I are enormous antagonists of seafood and refuse to eat it. As such, this tradition moreso equates to a specific level of Hell for the two of us, possibly as karma for every dead-baby joke we’ve ever told.
Erik Well, Twelfth Night has come and gone. Christmas is officially over. Time to be depressed and reminisce about all the great holiday times we had.
Meg We did have some great holiday times this year. And I think it’s fair to say that pizza played a big part of it.
Erik Yes, in a way, it saved Christmas Eve.
Meg It did. Were it not for this pizza we may have starved… or at least been kind of hungry all night.
Erik Yeah, I’m okay with the whole Italian heritage thing, buuuut not when it comes to absurd amounts of seafood every Christmas Eve.
Meg Nor am I. Thankfully I haven’t had to grumpily tolerate this tradition as long as you have, since the tradition fizzled out on my dad’s side of the family before I was born. And now we have the secret to avoid being hungry all night – bring your own delicious, non-seafood-infested food to eat and have full bellies!
Erik Too bad it didn’t offset the fact the house still smelled of stale urine and staph infection…
Meg There was literally a bag of TENTACLES sitting on the counter all night… that’s not wholesome!
Erik Oh seafood…
Prior to Christmas Eve, the two of us visited a fancy cheese shop, Ideal Cheese Shop in Huntington, NY, in search of exotic delicacies. Upon reaching the shoppe (I’m gonna spell it this way from here on out, it looks fancy) we were delighted to discover they had a block of bright-green cartoon cheese on display. As it turns out, this turned out to be a special variant of gouda which was created with pesto added into it. The result is a delicious gift from the cheese gods. It’s a cheese made with pesto, which contains its own cheese, so that makes it some sort of transcendental meta-cheese! Just look at how beautifully it sits on the pie!
Meg Luckily this pizza contained no tentacles. Just bright, play-dough green cheese.
Erik The pesto cheese itself was a bit of a novelty, but we couldn’t afford to not use it. It was practically begging to be used on a pizza.
Meg Pretty much as soon as we tasted it we were like, “Pizza!!” And I believe we even answered that in unison when someone asked what we were going to do with it.
Erik Yup! Afterall, green is my favorite color, and we both love pesto.
Meg For the record, we’re not usually one of those couples who finish each other’s sentences and speak in unison all the time or anything…
Erik Yeah, no, we’re gross but not THAT unbearable.
Meg We’re unabashedly adorable, but we’re not creepy.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize the green color and Christmas connection. So ultimately we knew we’d end up making a pizza with it, and try to make it Christmas-y in a way. For starters, we wanted to incorporate something red to complete the festive color theme. Tomatoes were one option, however we were afraid of making the pizza too similar to an older one. If you recall, over the summer we experimented with grilling pizzas, producing one of our best creations, the Three-Cheese Grilled Pesto Pizza. That one differed obviously in that we prepared it on a barbecue and that this new pie was made with pesto cheese not just plain old pesto, however we still wanted to avoid the parallels between the two, and instead opted for roasted peppers. A perennial favorite on panini sandwiches, they accompany pesto well due to their sweet flavor. After we had the aesthetics nailed down, we figured we should include some chicken, since it fit into the panino theme.
Erik Interestingly enough, despite this pizza featuring cartoonish, bright, green cheese, it was pretty traditional in the rest of its makeup.
Meg It was. It had a meat, sauce, and cheese. And roasted pepper.
Erik At it’s heart it was a traditional pizza, just with a wacky exterior. Wacky, but festive.
Meg Wacky and festive sums up our Christmas quite well actually, heh.
Erik Unsurprisingly the pie was a success and delicious level 9.
Meg It was very tasty. The cheese and the pepper worked really well together.
Erik Yeah everything blended well. We were a little worried the sauté was gonna be too overpowering, but it melded into the pizza nicely.
The chicken was prepared as a simple sauté with a simple gravy, to use on the dough so that it wouldn’t dry out. We’ve learned from past mistakes that not enough liquid sauce can spell disaster on a pizza, and this was one that we didn’t want to risk. At first the gravy came out too lemony, but in the end it cooked into the crust and all went well.
While we were very concerned with the pizza’s looks, it still came out delicious. Unsurprisingly, the pesto gouda tastes like pesto and, well, gouda. It was a really neat phenomenon/sensation having the main flavor and the cheese combined into one ingredient. While it essentially melted into a green slime, it still managed to capture the Christmas colors we were striving for. The chicken was more of an afterthought since it (rightfully) was overshadowed by the cheese. But hey, what’s a pizza without chicken? It was mostly there for fullness purposes. The pizza definitely would’ve been mostly the same without it, however as I said at the beginning of the article, this pie was also for practical purposes as well. We were going into enemy territory, and we needed to get full somehow.
Meg I think the best part of all this was that we managed to fend off all grubby little hands and eat it all ourselves. Except for the slice we offered to a fellow seafood hater. This is the one pizza we’ve never had any leftovers of.
Erik In fairness this was out of pity for my aforementioned seafood-hating brother in law, since he ate what would have been the leftovers. That aside, this experiment ranks very highly with the other Pizza Labs.
Meg Yeah. We learned from the Limburger pizza, when you want a special cheese to be the star, keep it simple.
Erik Poor, poor limburger… we knew thee well…
Meg But that’s what pizza lab is all about – experimenting, learning, and making adjustments. Limburger sacrificed itself for the better treatment of cheeses in the future.
Erik That is true. Weird science all the way! Let’s go listen to Oingo Boingo!
Personally, my favorite part about the pizza is that it simulated the flavors of a panino sandwich, since all the ingredients were basically what you would find on a sandwich in the first place. Hell, I recently finished the last bits of the pesto gouda we had left on a makeshift panino utilizing some leftover bits and pieces from a roast chicken, and half of an old sandwich roll. The cheese worked its magic there as well. So I guess the lesson here is that pesto gouda is magic and will go well on everything.