We are a family of shrimp and pizza lovers and came up with a great way to combine the two, shrimp pizza. Shrimp is an unexpected pizza topping but it works, especially paired with basil pesto and thinly sliced asparagus. Additionally, this pizza recipe was a great way to sneak in some extra vegetables into my vegetable leery children.
Pizza night started as a family tradition when my husband began baking bread and learning about making sour dough starter. It was his weekend night thing to do with our sons. His pizzas spoiled us forever for once you taste good quality homemade pizza dough and pizza it is hard to go back to the usual.
Even though Joe is still baking bread with a starter, we took a break from making pizza on a weekly basis because it is just the two of us living at home. However. I want to change that because homemade pizza not only tastes incredible, but it is fun to do. I find whenever we make pizza for a crowd, our guests, either friends or family, love pitching in or watching the pizzas being made. Everyone hangs out in the kitchen and it is just one big happy, loving mess.
Pizza Dough for Shrimp Pizza
I do not have a dough recipe prepared for my shrimp pizza. I am still developing my pizza dough recipe and testing others to find an easy recipe with a little sour flavor and gets nice and crispy. Plus, my husband’s recipe is in the family archives and needs extra time to re-develop.
If you want to try your hand at making pizza try, Jim Lahey’s No Knead Pizza Dough. Although you need to make this at least a day in advance, it is relatively easy to make. I tested this recipe a couple of times and found it reliable, light crust with some crisp crunch. It shapes nicely and cooks up evenly.
Fortunately, it is easy to purchase pizza dough either at your favorite grocery store or a local pizza parlor. Some pizza parlors sell their pizza dough, so it is worth asking. We have a local family market that makes pizza and sells fresh pizza dough which is great for last minute homemade pizza cravings.
Special Equipment for Making Shrimp Pizza or any Pizza
If you are going to start making pizza, even if you use store-bought pizza dough, there are a couple of pieces of equipment that make pizza making easier. First, if you can only buy one item, I recommend buying a pizza peel. With a peel in hand, sliding a freshly prepared pizza onto a pizza stone or pizza steel is a breeze. Without one, you need a baking sheet, like a large cookie sheet or rimmed sheet pan and prepare the pizza directly on the pan.
Also, get a long-handled and wide spatula, like ones used for outdoor grilling. They help to safely slide the pizza around in the oven and onto the pizza peel. We have two spatulas, one being so old we can’t bear to throw it away. It is the perfect size and shape for bread and pizza baking, so we tape it up with aluminum tape to secure it. It still works, and we have yet to find a good replacement. Unfortunately, they just don’t make this shape and size any more.
Bench scrapers are nice to divide the dough in half, or scrape the dough out of the bowl, but they are not necessary.
However, if you want to get serious about making pizza, investing in a baking stone or baking steel is worth it. I also use mine when I bake pies, tarts and galettes. If they are too expensive, place a rimmed baking sheet pan upside down in the oven when you are preheating it. The surface will get very hot and do a similar job as the baking stone or steel does. Place a baking pan with the pizza on top of the upside down sheet pan, the large hot surface area helps crisp up your pizza crust and even browning on the bottom crust.
Pesto Shrimp Pizza
To make Pesto Shrimp Pizza, use my basil pesto recipe and smear a few table spoons of pesto over the surface of the pizza. You can make the pesto with or without the cheese as both options taste great.
I lightly season the peeled shrimp with Kosher salt, ground garlic and red pepper flakes. Because there is no acid added to the shrimp, the shrimp can marinate in the seasoning without getting mealy and starting to cook. I prefer granulated garlic because minced fresh garlic easily burns when cooked under such hot temperatures. Burnt garlic gets very bitter and I do not want that flavor dominating the pesto and the shrimp.
Honesty, the most difficult thing to do is slice the asparagus spears into thin strips. Feel free to cut them any way you prefer. I like my pizza vegetables to easily bite into without pulling off half the toppings or the whole thing at once. With the asparagus sliced thin they cook up quickly and are easy to bite into. You may also want to cut the asparagus sliced in half across the middle depending on how big your pizza is.
Once the pizza is baked, squeeze lemon juice over the top and add some Romano cheese and other garnishes. My pickled red onions add a nice touch to this pizza as well.
This recipe makes one 10-inch (25.5 cm) pizza, which if you follow Jim Lahey’s pizza dough recipe is one of the four dough balls from his recipe, about 7 oz (350 g) each. A 10-inch (25/5 cm) pie is a reasonable size for two normal persons, athletes and teenage boys count this pizza size as one serving.
Most pizza dough you buy in the store is larger and usually makes around a 12-inch (30.5 cm) or larger pizza. If you are using a store-bought dough, you will need to increase the toppings accordingly. Though, that is the beauty of homemade pizza, the only thing you must pay attention to exact measurements is for making the dough, everything else is easily adjusted to suit your style.
Enjoy your homemade pizza and please share your photos with me on my Facebook page or Instagram @lemonthymeandgigner.
Pesto Shrimp Pizza
Pizza night in a lot of fun, especially when you make one with shrimp and pesto. Extra vegetables, like thinly sliced asparagus and chopped marinated artichoke hearts add textural contrast and flavor to the pesto and the shrimp. Makes on 10 inch (25.5 cm) pizza
Most store bough pizza dough makes a larger pizza pie, about 12 inches, 30.5 cm. Adjust the ingredients accordingly, so you have a nice sample of shrimp and vegetables and an even coating of pesto.
- Pizza Dough about 7 oz (200 g) for a 10 inch (25.5 cm) pizza see blog post for recommendations
- Basil Pesto sauce 3 TB (35 g) depending on size of pizza
- 9 large shrimp about 5-6 oz (150 - 175 g)
- 2 TB divided Extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp ground garlic
- Pinch of red pepper flakes.
- 6 asparagus spears
- 2 marinated artichoke hearts in oil
- Garnish with juice of half of lemon grated cheese, pickled red onion (optional), and fresh ground black pepper
Prepare the toppings
If using, follow the instructions for preheating your pizza stone or pizza steel. Preheat the oven at 500°F/ 250° C / Gas Mark 8 for one hour before baking the pizza.
Take the pizza dough out of the refrigerator 1 hour before baking. Let is rest on the counter in the container.
While the oven is preheating, prep the ingredients. Clean the shrimp and remove the shells and vein. Add the shrimp to a bowl then mix in a shy tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, Kosher salt, ground dried garlic and red pepper flakes. Mix until the seasonings are well incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
Trim off the tough ends of each asparagus spear, about an inch and half from the bottom. Slice each spear lengthwise in half, then cut each half in half lengthwise. Place the asparagus on a plate and drizzle a light coating of olive oil , shy tablespoon, and a pinch of Kosher Salt over the asparagus and toss with our hands until the oil and salt are well incorporated. Set aside.
Cut the artichoke heart wedges, in half lengthwise and rough chop. Set aside.
Assemble the pizza
Sprinkle your pizza peel with flour and set aside. Or, if you do not own a pizza peel place a piece of parchment paper on a large rimmed baking sheet, large enough to hold a 10-inch (25.5 cm) pizza. Lightly spray the parchment paper with oil spray.
Shape the dough. Sprinkle flour over your work surface so the dough does not stick and flour your hands. Pour out the dough and press down on the pizza dough with your fingertips to flatten and shape it into a circle. Drape the dough over the tops of both hands and stretch and shape the dough using gravity and your thumbs until the dough is about 10-inches (25.5 cm) in diameter. Don’t pull the dough but use both your thumbs to stretch out from the edge, not the center, and rotate the dough in a circle.
Drape the pizza dough on your prepared peel or pan, slide the peel back and forth to make sure the dough does not stick to the peel.
Spread the pesto evenly around the pizza leaving about an inch (2.5 cm) border. Sprinkle the asparagus evenly over the pizza, then the shrimp and finally add the artichoke hearts. While you are adding the toppings, repeat the slide test making sure the pizza dough is not sticking to the peel with the extra weight.
Bring the peel over the oven and insert the peel towards the back of the baking steel or stone. Encourage the pizza to slide off the peel and onto your pizza stone or steel, by moving the peel back and forth until you can slide the peel out while the pizza slides off. Bake for 6 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked and the crust is golden brown. Optional, half way through the baking turn the pizza around, front to back for even browning. The BBQ spatulas are perfect for this job. Always be careful not to touch the baking stone or steel. They are seriously hot, and you can get a nasty burn.
Remove the pizza from the oven by using long BBQ spatula, careful not to touch the steel or stone, and slide it onto the pizza peel.
Slide the pizza onto a metal serving platter or cutting board. Squeeze the lemon juice over the pizza then lightly sprinkle grated Romano cheese. Scatter a few slices of pickled red onion and grind fresh black pepper over the pizza. Cut into equal size wedges and serve immediately.
Most store bough pizza dough makes a larger pizza pie, about 12 inches, 30.5 cm. Adjust the ingredients accordingly so you have a nice sample of shrimp and vegetables and an even coating of pesto.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Pasta is the perfect foundation to pair with basil pesto. The intense herb flavor combined with sharp cheese needs a mild flavored foundation to compliment the sauce. Any type of pasta will suffice, but my favorite pasta with my favorite basil pesto recipe is cheese tortellini. Tortellini is widely available at the store, either freshly made, frozen or dried. As it happens, tortellini with basil pesto, grape tomatoes and green beans is one of my family’s favorite pasta dinners.
I love making pasta dinners with enough additional ingredients for a well-rounded meal. Marcella Hazan says a pasta meal is all about the pasta with just the minimal amount of sauce and add-ins. The pasta is the star. I learned a lot about cooking Italian food from Marcella’s cookbooks. However, here is where I diverge from her rule. For me, I try to make a whole meal that is nutritionally balanced.
Usually, I create a pasta dinner using pasta as the foundation with enough vegetables and/or proteins for a well-rounded meal. This way if I can’t make a salad, I know everyone will get at least one serving of vegetables. You still enjoy the comfort and flavor of pasta with the added nutritional benefits of a full serving of vegetables. Hopefully, the additional vegetables reduces pasta’s glycemic-index as well. Tortellini with basil pesto, grape tomatoes and green beans is also a great way to sneak in more vegetables for picky eaters.
Whenever I mix pesto into tortellini, or any type of pasta, I always add grape tomatoes. I never serve pasta with pesto without them. The sweetness and acid of the tomatoes nicely compliments the pesto and makes it taste more refreshing. I also love adding blanched green beans to my tortellini and pesto. It doesn’t add extra work and cooks in the same pot as the tortellini. Quickly blanched and crisp green beans add a nice textural contrast to the soft tortellini and smooth pesto. Basil, tomatoes and green beans all grow at the same time and as the saying goes, “What grows together, goes together.”
Tortellini with Basil Pesto, GrapeTomaotes and Green Beans
- 1 lb (450 g) fresh, dried or frozen cheese tortellini
- Kosher Salt for pasta cooking water and seasoning
- 1/2 lb (227 g) grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1/2 lb (227 g) fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) Basil Pesto
- Serve with freshly grated Romano cheese
- 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream or half and half Optional. Follow directions in summary.
Fill a stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Add at least one teaspoon of Kosher salt to the water and carefully taste. You want to taste the salt in the water. The lore is, the pasta water should taste like the sea. Sometimes I find that amount too salty. continue to add more salt until it is just right for your preference.
Add the tortellini and cook according to the directions given with the pasta. While the tortellini cooks, occasionally stir the pot to prevent the tortellini from sticking together.
About two minutes before the tortellini is done cooking, add the prepared green beans to the pot with the tortellini. Cook until the water returns to a boil. Taste the tortellini for al dente.
Drain the water and return the tortellini and green beans to the stock pot. Add about a 1/2 cup of pesto and stir o combine. Add the grape tomatoes and stir to combine.
Serve immediately with more Romano Cheese on the side.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
It is October and that means I need to trim my herb garden and use up all the annual herbs before the temperature drops below 50°. It would break my heart if they went to waste, especially my basil. I have four basil plants and after a rough start they grew, continuously producing new stems and leaves for my pleasure. I was not so fortunate last year. What a difference having an herb garden makes. I can select the amount of herbs I need, and pick them when I want them. Nonetheless, it is time to use it or lose it. Fortunately, the best way I know how to use up a bunch of fresh basil is make basil pesto.
There is nothing like a fresh herb pesto to add bright herbaceous pizzaz to pasta, vegetables, and fish or chicken. Usually, I also add in an extra leafy green vegetable or herb, like arugula or spinach, when I make basil pesto. The additional greens add extra body and texture to the pesto. Spinach leaves really softens the basil flavor and smooths the pesto. Arugula’s peppery bite brightens the basil flavor. Both versions taste delicious. For my recipe if you want to omit the arugula, go ahead. This is a classic basil pesto recipe, if you omit the lemon zest and arugula there is no need to add in more basil leaves to supplement it.
Pesto has three essential ingredients: basil, olive oil and freshly grated cheese. The quality of these ingredients influences to the flavor of the pesto. I always recommend buying the best quality food or product you can afford. This is especially true for the olive oil. For pesto, an all-purpose extra virgin olive oil is fine to use. There is no need to buy top shelf extra virgin olive oil, save that for salads. I use California Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil for my every day use and I am very happy with the flavor. Unfortunately, the labels on olive oil are misleading and not regulated. 100% olive oil is often not 100% olive oil. For more information about buying olive oil, here is an article about how to find real olive oil at the grocery store. Also, here from Business Insider.
Other than the fresh herb in pesto, the freshness of the grated cheese impacts the flavor. The traditional cheeses in pesto are Parmesan or Romano and sometimes both. I use Romano cheese for its sharper flavor, and it’s less expensive than Parmesan. Whichever cheese you use, only use freshly grated cheese. If possible, buy a chunk and grate the cheese at home. Parmesan and Romano cheese are expensive, but they last a long time. If you need to buy grated cheese, buy the cheese that is grated at the store. It is a lot fresher than buying factory grated cheese with preservatives in it.
Want more herb sauce recipes? Check out my recipe for Rolled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
Every Italian cookbook author, says never to cook Basil pesto. In general I follow this rule, unless I am grilling salmon with pesto (without cheese). Any level of heat will darken the color of the basil, dull its flavor, and diminish the scent. For best results, serve pesto at room temperature, stirred into warm pasta. When I make it, I make a batch and freeze it before adding the cheese. That way if I need it for pasta or to garnish a soup, I can use the pesto either with or without the cheese. Stir in the cheese a little before adding the pesto to your pasta dish. This will allow the ingredients to meld and the cheese to absorb the oil and basil.
My Favorite Basil Pesto
- 2 cups lightly packed (38 g) basil leaves cleaned, dried, and stems removed
- 3/4 cup (20 g) arugula cleaned , dried and stems removed
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 1/4 cup (27 g) pine nuts lightly toasted
- Zest of half a lemon
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup (40 g) freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, or a blend of both
- Little squeeze of fresh lemon juice if needed to brighten the pesto*
Place the basil leaves in a food processor and process until the leaves are slightly chopped. Add the arugula and process with the basil to combine.
Add the garlic, lemon zest, Kosher salt, and pinenuts and pulse until an even consistency is achieved.
Add half of the olive oil and process until smooth. Using a rubber spatula scrape down the sides of your food processor and stir it around. Add more olive oil until you reach the consistency you want. Taste and correct seasoning. Before you add more salt, remember the cheese is not added yet and is salty.
If using soon, pour the pesto into a small bowl and stir in the grated cheese. Start by adding half the cheese, stir and taste. Add more cheese as you wish. Regrigerate the pesto without the cheese until needed. Add the cheese to the pesto before using.
Stir the specified amount of pesto into your favorite pasta and serve immediately.
Pesto is best used immediately or the day it is made. It will last for a week in the refrigerator, or freeze, without the cheese, for 3 months.
Never heat up pesto. Heat causes the pesto to change color and the flavor lose its intensity.
*Adding an acid like lemon juice could change the color of leafy greens and other vegetables. If you feel the pesto needs to get brighter, add a little squeeze of lemon juice just before using.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.