Homemade pizza is the perfect dish to please a crowd – large or small, young or old. This recipe makes one half-sheet, pan-sized pizza with a thick and chewy Sicilian style crust, a spicy sun-dried tomato pesto in place of tomato sauce and layers of melty mozzarella and pecorino cheese.
And yes, there is an anchovy in it. Alert the authorities! Leave it out if you must, but know that there is a reason anchovies do still exist as pizza toppings despite their seemingly universal scorn. For pizza is truly Italian, a land surrounded on three sides by the sea. It only makes sense that a piece of that sea, in all its salty and briny glory, would make its way onto the country’s signature dish.
I admit, I too, once loathed the idea of anchovies on pizza – until two years ago on our honeymoon to Italy. The little restaurant with the blue awnings and the checkered tablecloths is just the backdrop, but the true memories from that night revolve around the pizza we enjoyed. Which was – wait for it – covered in anchovies. My opinion of these little salt-cured fish was forever changed that night, for you cannot truly judge anchovies until you’ve had anchovies in Italy, sitting mere meters away from the ocean in which they once swam. Since then, well, I’ve been more receptive to the fishy presence on my pizza, and I’d encourage you to be too. The anchovy in this dish almost melts into the pesto, and beneath layers of warm cheese and savory Italian herbs provides a richness and depth, the fishy aftertaste is nowhere to be found.
Sicilian Pan Pizza with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 packet rapid rise instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon Spice Islands Fine Sea Salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups cool water
- 2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil (about 10 whole)
- 1 medium tomato (about 3 ounces)
- 1/4 cup shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 anchovy filet
- 1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands Crushed Red Pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon Spice Islands Fine Grind Black Pepper
- 1 cup shredded fresh mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)
- 1 cup shredded Pecorino Romano cheese (about 3 ounces)
- 2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced and patted dry
- 3/4 teaspoon Spice Islands Italian Herb Seasoning
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 cup of water, mixing until dough comes together. Switch to dough hook and knead, adding more water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time. In drier climates or on cooler days you will likely need more additional water than you will during the summer or on humid days. Continue to knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 to 7 minutes. You can also transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand.
- Place 1 tablespoon oil in a clean mixing bowl, and roll dough around until it is evenly coated. Cover and place bowl in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
- Generously dust a half sheet pan with cornmeal or semolina flour. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle roughly the same size. Transfer to sheet pan, stretching the dough as needed to reach the edges of the pan. Lightly cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place until doubled in size, again 1 to 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 500ºF. Brush crust with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, focusing on the outer edges. Bake for 5 minutes or until crust is puffed and just starting to set.
- To prepare pesto, combine sun-dried tomatoes, tomato, cheese, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, anchovy, crushed red pepper and black pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Spread pesto in a thin, even layer on top of partially baked crust. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Pecorino Romano cheeses. Arrange tomato slices evenly over top; sprinkle with Italian herb seasoning.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cheese is melted and edges of crust are beginning to brown. Cut into squares and serve.