The other day I fulfilled two life dreams in rapid succession as I watched a plastic-faced Billy Idol belt out Rebel Yell, then White Wedding right on the Yell's heels. This day could not get any better, I thought as I crooned along with Billy at the gorgeous blue sky.
I was very wrong. This day could get much better.
I was at Outside Lands, a huge San Francisco music festival. Like all things San Franciscish, the food at this festival was several notches above what food is supposed to taste like. So, after Billy excused himself, presumably to refresh his eye makeup and change out of his white leather chaps, my friends took a wander to the food stands. They returned ages later, with an otherworldly pizza-esque creation that pushed the limits of toppings to a totally new and fantastic place.
I don't even know whether these chips were supposed to be on the pizza, or if maybe they had accidentally blown onto the pie in a sudden gust of wind, or if perhaps a bag had been upended, scattering a handful of crispy, salty crunch. I suspect the chips were not supposed to be there, given the virtuous nature of the rest of the pie - cheese-less, pesto-drizzled, and veggie-spiked.
Whatever. All I know is that I ate a potato chip pizza, and I liked it. And now you get to eat it too, and I bet you'll wonder why you never tried this before. Chips and pizza. Better together.
Pesto Crunch Pizza
Yield: (2) 8"-10" pizzas
Prep Time: 25 min Cook Time: 20 min Total Time: 45 min, plus at least 1 hour rising/resting the dough
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp yeast
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
3 Tbs pine nuts
1 large bunch basil, parsley or a mixture of each
1 clove garlic
4 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced thin
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thin
5-6 white button mushrooms, sliced thin
handful Lays plain potato chips
Make dough: Combine water and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 3 minutes. Add olive oil, flour and water, then mix with your hands until a stiff dough forms. Turn onto a clean work surface and knead for 5 minutes, then place in a clean bowl and cover with a tea towel. Place in a warm place and let rise for an hour or so.
At this point, you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or use it right away. A rested dough has the best flavor, but we're talking about the difference between pizza now, or pizza tomorrow... I understand if you can't wait.
Preheat oven to 550F / 290C, or as hot as it will go. Preheat a pizza stone if you have one, or a metal baking tray.
Make pesto: Toast pine nuts for about 3 minutes in a dry skillet over medium heat. In a mini food processor, combine pine nuts and remaining pesto ingredients. Whiz until a fairly smooth, thin paste forms. Taste and season with salt, lemon, olive oil or pepper if necessary.
Prep toppings: Add 1 tsp olive oil to skillet and heat over medium-low. Add onions and a pinch of salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes or until onions are soft. Add mushrooms and peppers and cook another 5 minutes or until all the vegetables are softened and just slightly browned. Remove from heat.
Make pizza: Cut a large square of parchment paper, enough to fit a 10" pizza with some extra edges. Cut dough in half. Form into a flattened circle, then stretch to create a 8" to 10" pizza, working on the parchment paper. Dollop some pesto on the dough. Using the back of a spoon, spread the pesto nearly to the edges. Put half the sauteed vegetables over the pizza. Lift the pizza using the parchment paper and place on the preheated stone or rack in the oven.
Bake for 5 minutes, then pull the parchment paper from underneath. Continue baking for another 3-5 minutes, until edges are browned. Use a large spatula to remove pizza from oven, and cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, prepare the 2nd pizza. Bake the pizza after the first is finished baking.
Finish by sprinkling a handful of roughly broken potato chips over each pizza. Serve with remaining pesto on the side.