3 cheese & veggies pizza with pesto

Last night, I re-watched one of my most favorite animated films, Ratatouille.  I honestly lost count of how many times I've watched it.  To me, this was no ordinary cartoon.  This movie inspired me profoundly and my most unforgettable moment lay in Anton Ego's last critic.  Those words were so beautifully said yet so powerful and always touched my heart.  

"In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the *new*. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new: an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto, "Anyone can cook." But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist *can* come from *anywhere*. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau's, who is, in this critic's opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau's soon, hungry for more."

This pizza recipe was definitely inspired by this cute movie.  We all know that pizza was once commonly known as peasant food in Italy.  Till this day, there is still a huge debate on the origin of pizza.  Besides Naples of Italy, I've heard of India, Turkey, Israel, Spain and the list just goes on.  Well, I'm not here to argue where pizza was originated.  I just want to share with you how such ingenious and delicious creation can be made with so few ingredients yet its yumminess still remains.  For my pizza here, I used mostly locally sourced leftovers in my fridge.  I know some people may frown upon eating leftovers but today's world is changing and so is our eating habits.  Utilizing our food resources, minimizing carbon footprint and food wastage is not anything new or due to any demeaning reasons.  This movement has been around for awhile and there are heaps of people practicing such lifestyle.  

The thin crust here was made out of wholemeal flour.  This is definitely a "slightly" healthier choice of crowd pleasers. Don't mind the cheese though.   ;) 

I added some fresh basil leaves and pesto on top to bring out more flavors.  

Servings: 3 thin crusted pizzas (1 pizza for each person)

Preparation Time: 2 - 2.5 hours 

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients for the pizza dough: 

3 cups wholemeal flour

4 tsp active dry yeast

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup olive oil

1.25 cup warm water

Ingredients for toppings: 

1/2 green and 1/2 red capsicums, small diced

1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 bowl cooked mushrooms* (button, oyster, and shiitake)

2 cup grated fontina, mozzarella, and asiago cheese

1 bunch fresh basil leaves (to be added after the pizza is removed from the oven)

2-3 tbsp fresh pesto (to be added after the pizza is removed from the oven)

Ingredients for tomato sauce: 

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove

1/2 chili, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

1 can tomato sauce

extra-virgin olive

Instructions for the tomato sauce: 

1) Preheat a saucepan with oil on medium low heat, cook onion for 3 minutes, add garlic and chili, cook 1-2 minutes.  

2) Add chopped tomato and bay leaf.  Cook 1-2 minutes then reduce heat to simmer 8-10 minutes with a lid on.  

3) Use a potato masher to mash the sauce.  

Instructions for the pizza: 

1) In a small bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and sugar.  Let it sit for 10 minutes until foam is formed.  

2) In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder, and salt.  Form a well in the flour, combine the foamed mixture and knead the dough for 10 minutes.  (sprinkle a little flour if the dough is too wet as you knead by hands)

3) Rub a little oil inside the bowl, cover the bowl with a wet towel and let the dough rise for 1 hour.  It should doubled its size.  

4) On a well floured surface, divide the dough to 3 equal portions.  Flatten each dough to a thin crust with a rolling pin.

5) Preheat the oven at 200ºC.  Place each crust on a baking tray with a drizzle of olive oil on the baking sheet.  

6) Spread the tomato sauce and add pizza toppings evenly to each pizza crust.  

7) Bake for 20 minutes.  Garnish with fresh basil leaves and fresh pesto before serving.