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Pesto Chicken and Roasted Veggie Pizza

June 8, 2012

What’s a girl to do when her husband tells her she’s on her own for dinner because he has to work late into the night?  This girl thinks for a second about what’s in the refrigerator and then comes up with a game plan to try making something new.  What does this girl come up with?  A pesto chicken and roasted veggie pizza!  Not bad for throwing together a meal at last second’s notice, eh?

Ok, admittedly, perhaps I already had the makings of a pesto-style pizza in mind, or something close to it because I had just recently purchased a jar of pesto sauce.  And I had always wondered how a pesto pizza would turn out.  So, my husband telling me I was on my own for dinner gave me the perfect excuse to experiment with something new.  And, I must say the results were fantastic!

As I’d never made a pizza like this before, and the idea of how to do one was just in my head based on similar items I had seen, I kind of winged my way through this.  I started by roasting the veggies since I figured that might take the longest amount of time.  I had broccoli and onions and thought that might be a combination.  So, I cut up a few broccoli florets into small pieces that could fit on a pizza and I took one whole onion and quartered it and separated out the layers.  I tossed the veggies into a large bowl and added some thinly sliced garlic, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Everything in the bowl is tossed together in order to make sure that the flavors are fully incorporated and that the olive oil coats everything so that it doesn’t burn.  Onto a sheet pan, I dumped out the contents of the bowl and made sure that the veggies were arranged in a single layer.  The sheet pan goes into a pre-heated 450-degree oven for 15-20 minutes until everything is fully cooked and tender.  It’s nice to get a little bit of a char on the broccoli florets as that adds nice flavor to the pizza.  But don’t overcook the vegetables and burn them!  I chose the selection of broccoli and onions because that is what I had on hand, but you could also do artichoke hearts or any other vegetable that you think goes well with chicken and pesto.

While the vegetables are roasting, it’s time to prepare the chicken.  As an added level of flavor, I decided to grill the chicken before I put it on the pizza.  So, I took a chicken breast and cut it up into strips.  The chicken strips went into a bowl along with salt, pepper, minced garlic cloves, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  However, since this was chicken pesto, I decided add a tablespoon of pesto to the chicken strips as well so that perhaps the pesto flavor would be imparted on the chicken when it gets grilled.  Mix the whole thing together so that all of the flavors coat the chicken strips.  Set the bowl aside while you heat up a grill or a grill pan with a drizzle of olive oil and allow it to get very hot.

In the past, I’ve made my own pesto sauce before, and it’s very easy to make, but sometimes using a pre-made product is just as good.  In this case, to put the pesto on the chicken and the pizza, using pre-made pesto was fine for me, and it cut down prep time on making my dinner.  The pesto sauce I bought is all natural and made with fresh basil, olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts blended together.  There is no parmesan cheese in it as that would spoil the pesto.  Once the pesto sauce is bottled, the oil has a bit of a tendency to separate, so all you need to do is take a spoon and mix it all together and it’s wonderful pesto all over again!

Time to grill the chicken.  Since I don’t have an outdoor grill, I used a grill pan on the stove over medium high heat.  When the pan is hot enough, it’s time to add my pesto chicken strips right into the grill.  Set it and forget it for a minute or two.  Since the chicken strips are thinly sliced, it doesn’t take but two to three minutes on each side to cook and get a nice char on it.  Don’t touch the chicken and saute it around; just lay it into the grill pan, allow it to cook on one side, wait a few minutes, and then turn it over and allow it to cook on the other side.  You’ll have perfectly cooked chicken strips.

Of course, chicken strips are probably a bit too large to put on a pizza.  When the chicken strips finished grilling, I set them aside on a cutting board.  Let the chicken rest for a little bit after you take it off the grill so that it stays nice and moist and all that good juice doesn’t roll right out of the chicken strips.  Right before you’re ready to dress your pizza, cut the chicken strips into small bite-sized chunks that are more manageable to put atop a pizza crust.

Ok, so the chicken is grilled and the veggies have been roasted, the last step is to put the pizza together.  Like using bottled pesto sauce, I’m not afraid to admit that I used a pre-made, partially pre-baked pizza crust.  While I have made my own pizza crust before, it’s not practical to always make everything from scratch, especially when it’s been a long day and you’re tired and you just want to eat dinner.  So, pre-made, partially pre-baked pizza crusts come in handy.  These pizza crusts come in all sizes.  I happened to have one for a one-person meal that was 8″ around.  This will slice into 4 nice sized pizza slices!

Take the pizza crust out of the package and place it onto a pizza pan or pizza stone.  The first step in building this pizza is the pesto sauce.  After all, this is a pesto pizza, not a red sauce pizza.  Take a good amount of pesto and layer it onto the pizza crust.  Use as much as you like, but remember when the pizza heats up, the oil in the pesto sauce may run a little bit, so perhaps don’t take the pesto sauce all the way to the edge of the crust.

On top of the pesto sauce, sprinkle a light layer of mozzarella cheese.  Mozzarella is great for pizzas because it melts so smooth without being too oily.  Putting down a light layer of cheese right on top of the pesto will act as a glue for the toppings to stick to the pizza.

Time for the toppings now!  Layer on the chopped grilled chicken and the roasted broccoli and onions.  At this point, everything looked and smelled so yummy that I just wanted to pile my pizza with as many toppings as possible!

Just 2 more finishing touches before the pizza can go into the oven.  First, I took a teaspoon or two of pesto sauce and drizzled it over the top of the toppings.  I personally like pesto sauce and I wanted to make sure I could taste the pesto when the pizza was done.  Secondly, sprinkle one more layer of mozzarella cheese over the top of the pizza.  This again will act as  a glue to keep the toppings together.  And really, who could say no to more cheese!  If you have saved parmesan, you could also top the pizza with some parmesan.

Ok, pizza goes into the pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes.  As soon as the mozzarella on top starts to turn brown and get all bubbly, the pizza is done.  Remember, the ingredients on the pizza are already fully cooked; the chicken was grilled, the vegetables roasted, the pesto pre-made and the pizza crust partially pre-baked.  So it really doesn’t take long at all to finish off the pizza.

When it comes piping hot out of the oven, take a pizza cutter and slice the pizza into 4 gorgeous slices.  The combination of the pesto grilled chicken and the roasted vegetables go really well together.  Add in some melted mozzarella cheese, some delicious fresh basil pesto and the crunchy pizza crust and you have a really winner of a meal.  Not bad for throwing together a last-minute meal at home for 1, right?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2012 11:32 am

    Oh dear, I ate less than an hour ago and you are making me hungry again!

  2. Amanda permalink
    June 12, 2012 11:25 am

    mmm, that pizza looks delish!

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