Grilled Shrimp and Cilantro Pesto Pizza

I was almost too tired to take this on tonight, but I’m oh so glad I rallied!  Some friends have been steering me in a Bobby Flay recipe direction and I’ve been resisting.  I’ve never subscribed to the idea that every dish in a meal should come from the grill.  In fact, it’s wicked hot out tonight and spending a lot of time near the grill was not very appealing.   Still, I have a bunch of cilantro and a bunch of parsley and needed to get started on it.   Again, I’m oh so glad I did.

I used a crust other than the one in the recipe.  I like a very thin, crisp pizza crust and have yet to make one I’m completely happy with.  I found a recipe that calls for yeast, but doesn’t have to rise.  Yippee!  I was pleased with it.  I recommend that you pierce it a little with a fork before you bake it.  If you don’t you’re likely to have large bubbles in the middle of your crust.  Bobby Flay’s recipe calls for you to grill the crust.  I’m just not set up to do that.  I don’t have a pan that will work and my grill is kind of small.  Fortunately I do have a convection oven with a pizza button.  Works great.  Very crispy.

A couple of notes about pesto in general.  First, pine nuts are heinously expensive.  If you grow a lot of basil and make the stuff in big batches the cost adds up quickly.  I recommend that you get your pine nuts at Costco.  The price is very reasonable and you get a lot.  Store them in the freezer.  Also, freeze it in ice cube trays.  That makes it really easy to thaw a few tablespoons when you need them.  I’ve made pesto with a variety of herbs and nuts, but  I’d never made cilantro pesto.  This recipe has three parts cilantro to one part parsley.  I made it strictly by the recipe and was alarmed at how sharp it is.  I was concerned that after all my work this pizza would be inedible.  All I can say is trust the recipe.  After the pizza is baked the flavor of the pesto is really amazing.

Even though I didn’t grill the pizza I did grill the shrimp.  If you’ve struggled with grilling shrimp in the past I have a tip for you.  Use two skewers.  Put one skewer through each end of each shrimp.  You end up with parallel skewers.  This makes it really easy to turn the shrimp on the grill and you don’t lose any through the grate.  Do remember to brush your shrimp with a little oil so they don’t stick.  Salt and pepper to taste.

I have become a complete convert to fresh mozzarella.  It’s exponentially better than the shredded stuff you get in the bag.  Honestly it doesn’t even taste like the same food.  You can find great fresh mozzarella at a lot of farmer’s markets.  If you have a sensitive system you make want to ask if the milk is raw or pasteurized.  The nice thing is that fresh mozzarella is pretty widely available in grocery stores these days as well.

So, all in all this was a big success!  I recommend that you cook the crust with the pesto and mozzarella for a few minutes before you add the shrimp.  The shrimp is already cooked and you don’t want it to get rubbery.  A few leaves of fresh cilantro at the end add a nice finish to the flavor.  Makes it look nice too.  I’m including below the crust recipe I used and the part of the Bobby Flay recipe that I used.  Click on the recipe title to see the whole Bobby Flay approach.

Good? YES!
Easy? Well, there are a lot of moving parts in this, but you could do a lot ahead to make dinnertime easier on yourself.
Good for company? Sure. Bobby Flay calls for individual pizzas. Probably the best approach for a casual dinner with friends.
Special shopping? Maybe. If you’re not typically a pesto maker you’ll need pine nuts.

Grilled Shrimp and Cilantro Pesto Pizza

Cilantro Pesto:

  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Grilled Shrimp:

  • 16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the grill to medium-high.

Brush each shrimp with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for 1 to 2 minutes per side or until just cooked through (shrimp will be opaque and turn pink).

Spread a few tablespoons of the Cilantro Pesto over each pizza crust, top with a few slices of buffalo mozzarella, and then top with 4 shrimp and cilantro leaves. Place the pizza on the grill until the cheese melts. Serve hot.

Thin Pizza Crust

25 oz. pkt. active dry yeast
1/4 tsp. granulated sugar
3/4 cup 110 degree water
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
pizza sauce – of your choice, as needed
shredded cheese – of your choice, as needed
toppings – of your choice, as needed

-Dissolve yeast and sugar in water; allow to rest for 8 minutes.
-In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt.
-Pour yeast mixture over flour mixture and mix well with a heavy spoon.
-Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.
-Working from the edges to the center, press dough into a 12″ circle. We’ve also found that holding the dough up, off the counter and stretching it works well, too (keep rotating the dough circle as you stretch to keep an even circle forming).
-Place dough on a lightly greased pizza pan and stretch dough to edges.
-Spread sauce over crust and top with cheese and desired toppings.
-Bake in a 500 degree oven for 8-12 minutes, or until edges are golden.

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