One of my favorite childhood TV shows was the amazingly addicting, absolutely ridiculous cartoon series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
My brother had almost every single action figure from the show. From the Turtle’s arch-nemesis Shredder to their old & wise rat master Splinter, he had enough action figures to stage full-on Turtle battles in our living room.
Of course, we never missed an episode. And when the movies were released, we made sure to beg our parents to allow us to see every single, horribly cheesy flick they made. Afterwards, we would spend hours pretending we were skilled martial arts amphibians and looked forward to dinner where we got to partake in our shared affinity with the turtle’s one true love, pizza.
Back then, the pizza of choice was usually from Pizza Hut and strictly cheese-only. But, nowadays, our pizza choices have changed pretty radically to include fresh fruit, veggies, and even pesto. So, when I saw the contents of our fridge and spotted my basil plant overgrown and begging to be used, I decided it was time to create a quick, grown-up version of our favorite classic.
As always, I love to make quick dinners that we can enjoy without a lot of sweat work (especially in this heat). So, I made a few shortcuts to make this pizza as delicious and easy as possible. I love the store-bought pestos, especially Sun-Dried Tomato Basil and so far, my favorite way to eat is as a pizza sauce. The pesto sauce packs a punch of flavor that pairs perfectly with the fresh spinach and tomatoes. The cheese in this is more of an accent flavor that really brings together the pizza as a whole.
The other short cut I used was purchasing the pizza dough from a local place instead of making my own. I have no doubt that this pizza would taste pretty amazing on homemade dough. But, I have found that in a pinch, my favorite local pizza shops sell their pre-made doughs for a pretty reasonable price and help me big time on saving a few hours in prep work.
I honestly had a whole lot of fun with this recipe. It probably isn’t anything incredibly new, just a fun homemade family meal that everyone can enjoy in under 30 minutes. What I have always loved about pizza is that it is one of those foods that can be shared with everybody. I like to think that sharing a pizza can cross a bridge with others that just simply can’t be done with the traditional plated meal.
So here’s to many more pizza moments, from childhood TV shows to fun family meals. I hope you love this one as much as I do!
approx. 8 servings
- 1 store-bought or homemade 12″ pizza crust
- 1 (8 oz.) jar Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Pesto sauce
- 1 cup packed fresh spinach leaves
- 1 large tomato, washed and sliced thin
- 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/3 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
- 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Garnish: 6 to 8 large basil leaves, chopped
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees (or to package instructions for pizza dough).
- Pre-bake crust for 5-8 minutes. While the crust bakes, wash spinach, pat dry and set aside. Then slice tomato into thin (less than 1/2″ slices) and set aside.
- When crust is ready, remove from oven and spread on a layer of the pesto and top with a layer of spinach, then tomatoes, and top with cheese – evenly sprinkled over the pizza).
- Place back into oven and cook until crust begins to turn golden brown (approx. 8-10 minutes). Remove from oven and garnish with chopped basil leaves. Serve hot.