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Chef Neal Fraser's Garden Pesto Pizza

With gardens in full bloom right now, your basil plant is begging to be used and we can think of no better way to make use of it than in an elemental yet innovative pizza recipe from award-winning, LA chef and restaurateur Neal Fraser. His guest-first, holistic hospitality philosophy is perfectly suited to this family-favorite meal made with seasonal ingredients sprouting up from the summer garden.

Following a stellar culinary career working with some of the industry's most iconic chefs, Frasier and his business partner/wife Amy Knoll Fraser developed Redbird, the cathedral-turned restaurant/event venue inside the former rectory building of Vibiana. Built in 1876, the Cathedral of St. Vibiana was designed by Ezra F. Kysor, one of Los Angeles’ first practicing architects. Saved from demolition by the LA Conservancy, the cathedral was restored and adapted by Chef Fraser and his wife. Redbird | Vibiana received the Los Angeles Conservancy’s 2019 Preservation Award Chair’s Award. LA Conservancy’s highest recognition for persistence, creativity and ultimate success of the revitalization for adaptive reuse of the cathedral, rectory building and surrounding property.

Garden Pesto Pizza (adapted from Chef Neal Fraser)

  • 1 6-oz. pizza dough purchased from local pizzeria, or frozen from market

  • 1 cup of fresh basil, picked and washed

  • 1 cup of fresh kale, picked and washed

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1/2 cup parmigiano cheese

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

  • 1/4 cup Capezzana Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus some extra for garnishing

  • 1/4 cup. low-moisture mozzarella cheese

  • basil flowers or any other flowering herb for garnish

  • Semolina flour

  • All-purpose flour

  • Coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 450℉ or as high as it will go with pizza stone inside.

Boil 2 cups of water with a pinch of salt. Blanch basil and kale leaves for 10 seconds. Shock in ice water, and ring out greens. Blend garlic and olive oil in blender or food processor until garlic is smooth. Add blanched basil and kale and blend until smooth. Add parmigiano cheese, and season with salt to taste if needed.

Flour the dough with a mix of 2 ounces of all-purpose flour to 1 ounce of semolina flour. Press out pizza dough to a 10-inch circle. Dust pizza paddle with semolina flour to keep dough from sticking to paddle. If using a cast iron skillet preheat skillet on your stove top over medium heat for 5 minutes. Once hot, douse with olive oil and a sprinkle of semolina. Smooth pesto over the pizza with a spoon. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake in oven for approximately 6 minutes. Turn pizza 180 degrees halfway through the cooking process, at about 3 minutes in. Watch for the bubbles that will form in the dough. Both top crust and bottom of the pizza should be golden brown. Garnish pizza with herbs/flowers and olive oil. Then cut, serve and enjoy.

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