Cashew Pesto Pizza

You guys, I was kind of nerding out yesterday after making this pesto. Holy smokes, I want to put it on everything. While this recipe is for pizza, you can totally just make the pesto and have it handy for other dishes. It would be amazing on pasta, toasted bread, or even with an egg dish. You can keep a jar of the pesto in your fridge and enjoy it throughout the week.

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With that said…this.pizza. OH.EM.GEE. It’s super simple, delicious, and beautiful. Rainbow chard is absolutely gorgeous right now and that combined with cherry tomatoes gives a great pop of color.

Ok, last thing, let’s talk about nutritional yeast (because it’s in the pesto). I know, this not an ingredient that sounds super sexy. And you may be someone who reads that ingredient and immediately closes the page. But I urge you, give this guy a chance! Nutritional yeast is actually pretty amazing. It helps to add a “cheesy” flavor to recipes. And if you are someone who is sensitive to dairy, it’s an awesome and natrual way to get that flavor without upsetting your stomach. It’s also jam packed with some amazing health benefits, like B vitamins* (think brain function, healthy hair, skin, and nails). Nutritional yeast is sold at most health food stores (including Whole Foods). My go to brand is KAL’s Nutritional Yeast Flakes. One word of advice, be careful NOT to buy brewer’s yeast by accident. They are usually stocked near each other. I once accidentally grabbed brewer’s yeast instead of nutritional yeast and ate some very bitter pasta. Sigh. For more info about nutritional yeast and it’s health benefits, check out this source!

Cashew Pesto Pizza

The cashews must be soaked in water for 4 – 8 hours or overnight before they are used. So plan ahead accordingly! Also, the pesto can be made up to 5 days in advance. If you choose to do this, just package it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge. Drizzling a little olive oil over the top of the pesto before sealing it up will help it keep it’s bright green color.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. store bought or homemade pizza dough (I love Trader Joe’s whole wheat pizza dough from their refrigerated section)
  • 1 head rainbow chard or swiss chard, destemmed and loosely chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Tbsp raw pine nuts
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
  • a handful or two of flour for kneading pizza dough
  •  

    Cashew Pesto

  •  3/4 cup raw cashews (plus water for soaking)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Place cashews in a low bowl and cover with water. Allow them to sit for 4 – 8 hours or overnight. Don’t start on step #2 until your cashews are finished soaking.
  2. Using 1 tsp of the olive oil, lightly grease a baking sheet. If you have a pizza stone (you lucky duck), you can use that instead. No greasing necessary. Set the baking sheet/pizza stone aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 475°F.
  4. Place the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface and allow it to sit for about 30 minutes. This will make the dough easier to work with.
  5. Meanwhile, begin to make the pesto. Drain the soaking cashews. In a food processor or blender, add the cashews, 1/4 cup water, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Blend until mostly smooth and no large cashew chunks remain.
  6. Add the basil, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper to the food processor. Blend until smooth. You may need to occasionally use a spoon or rubber spatula to scrape down any bits from the sides and then continue blending. Set the pesto aside.
  7. In a frying pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Sauté the chard, using tongs to evenly coat the leaves. Allow the chard to reduce significantly in size and then remove from heat.
  8. After the pizza dough’s 30 minutes are up, coat your hands in flour and begin to knead the dough and work it into a large circle, oval, or rectangle. Work the pizza dough into a very thin crust. When it cooks, it will become much thicker. So it’s best to send it into the oven thinner than desired. Otherwise, your pizza will be super bready. Also, don’t be shy with the flour. It is your friend and will help you work with the dough.
  9. Once the dough is ready to go, transfer it onto the baking sheet or pizza stone. Use a spoon to spread the pesto onto the dough, covering the entire pizza.
  10. Layer the sautéed chard onto the pizza.
  11. Sprinkle the halved cherry tomatoes on top of the chard.
  12. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the crust begins to brown.
  13. While the pizza is baking, use a towel to wipe out the inside of your frying pan so that it is dry. Then, heat the dry pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the pine nuts. Allow them to toast and brown slightly, moving them around occasionally with a spatula. Monitor closely. They can burn quickly!
  14. When the pizza is finished, remove it from the oven and sprinkle the pine nuts on top. Allow the pizza to sit for about 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Enjoy!

*Just a friendly reminder, I am not a dietitian or nutritionist. I only know what feels best in my body. Give things a try, do some research, and decide what feels best for you!

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