The Sea Salt

Southern California Surfing Food

Pizza Night: Pesto Change-O Pizza

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Pizza on Friday nights became a tradition when we got married and were living in “The Commune.” (Which is a story for another time. Imagine 6 kids right out of college, with no life-plans, living together in an old farm house, chickens, rabbits and a rogue skunk included). When we moved to California the tradition followed us, and we usually have anywhere from 1 to 20 friends in our kitchen for a slice of the best homemade pizza in San Clemente.


Pesto Change-O Pizza is a play on the traditional pesto pizza, and includes all the ingredients that one would use to make pesto. The difference is that I add the ingredients separately, instead of blending them into a paste. The result is a pizza with much more texture, and  fresher flavors. 

Pesto Change-O Pizza

  • 1 pizza dough at room temperature (why room temperature? Visit my post on foccocia bread).
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
  • Parchment paper

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 500. (We usually preheat the stone for at least 40 mins).  (You don’t have a pizza stone? Honestly, it’s worth buying one! It makes a huge difference).

Stretch out your pizza dough (store bought or homemade) on a square of parchment paper, with about 1 inch excess on each side.

Mix the garlic, lemon, EVOO, pepper and salt in the small bowl. Spread evenly over the top of the dough with your hands.

garlic and basil

Layer basil on top garlic mixture, (if the basil is on top it will burn) and then cover with mozzarella cheese and pine nuts. It isn’t necessary to toast the pine nutes beforehand (I did, and wish I hadn’t because they were too well done when the pizza came out).

Pesto Pizza uncooked

Slide pizza into using pizza peel (parchment paper and all).

Remove parchment paper after 3 minutes (it should remove easily with tongs because the bottom of the pizza will be fairly cooked at this point if your stone is hot enough).

Cook on pizza stone until the cheese and edges brown for about 5 more minutes, about 8 minutes total.

Pesto Pizza cooked

Cover with parmesan immediately.

Pest Pizza w parmesan done

Let sit 3 minutes or so, cut and serve!

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Author: The SEA SALT

Cooking and surfing in Southern California

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