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Recipes: Make pour-in-a-pan pizza or pasta with pesto

Focaccia makes a great base for this pizza dish with Parmesan cream, fontina, and arugula. Plus, going beyond just basil in your pesto.

Pour-in-the-Pan Pizza With Parmesan Cream, Fontina, and ArugulaConnie Miller/of CB Creatives

Our newest television show, Milk Street’s Cooking School — now streaming exclusively on The Roku Channel — covers everything from cooking basics to new techniques and ingredients, all while teaching innovative recipes along the way. Like when we tweak a high-hydration focaccia recipe we learned in Bari, Italy, to make a pour-in-the-pan pizza. And building on the knowledge that pesto is much more than just basil and Parmesan, our Spaghetti With Parsley Pesto includes a surprise ingredient.

Pour-in-the-Pan Pizza With Parmesan Cream, Fontina, and Arugula

Makes 4-6 servings

This dough looks almost like a batter when it’s ready to use. You literally pour it into a greased rimmed baking sheet and, after letting it rest for 20 minutes, push the dough with oiled fingers to the edges of the pan — no rolling or tossing required. The recipe breaks the usual rules for pizza dough: It’s made with lots of water — hence, its batter-like consistency — and rises for at least four hours on the counter, which is considerably longer than is typical. During that time, the dough will rise, fall, then rise again.

This dough was inspired by the Milk Street recipe for a light, open-crumbed focaccia, our version of the one we enjoyed in Bari, Italy. Instead of making a single large pizza, you could make two 12-inch pies using low-lipped, disk-shaped pizza pans, like the ones used in American-style pizzerias; see the directions below.


Be sure to mist the baking sheet with cooking spray. Though you also pour olive oil onto the pan, it’s not enough to prevent sticking; the cooking spray helps ensure the pizza releases easily. And, the dough needn’t reach the sides of the pan when you push it, though it should come close.

400 grams (2¾ cups plus 2½ tablespoons) bread flour

2 ¼-ounce packets instant yeast (4½ teaspoons)

2 teaspoons white sugar


2 teaspoons table salt

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for oiling your hands

½ cup cold heavy cream

½ ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated (¼ cup)

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)

3 cups lightly packed baby arugula

1 tablespoon lemon juice

To make the dough, in a stand mixer with the dough hook, mix the flour, yeast, and sugar on medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. With the mixer running, add 1½ cups warm water (100 degrees to 110 degrees) and mix on medium speed until a sticky dough forms, about 5 minutes; scrape the bowl and dough hook once during mixing. Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Add the table salt and mix on medium speed for another 5 minutes. The dough will be shiny, wet, and elastic.

Coat a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Mist a silicone spatula with cooking spray and use it to scrape the dough into the bowl. Flip the dough with the spatula to oil all sides. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise for 4 to 5 hours.

When the dough is ready, generously mist a 13-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, then pour 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil onto the center of the baking sheet. Gently scrape the dough onto the center of the sheet and let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes.


Meanwhile, heat the oven to 500 degrees with a rack in the lowest position. In a liquid measuring cup, stir together the cream, Parmesan, rosemary, and ½ teaspoon pepper; set aside.

After the dough has rested, oil your hands and, working from the center, gently push it into an even layer that extends to the edges and into the corners of the baking sheet; be careful not to press out all of the air. It’s fine if the dough does not completely fill the pan, but it should come close.

Drizzle the Parmesan-cream mixture in an even layer over the top, spreading lightly if needed, and leaving a narrow border. Sprinkle evenly with the fontina. Bake until the surface of the pizza is golden brown and the bottom is crisped and well browned, 18 to 20 minutes. Carefully slide a wide spatula under the pizza, then use the spatula to help slip the pizza off the baking sheet and onto a wire rack. Let cool for a few minutes.

In a medium bowl, toss together the arugula, the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper. Distribute evenly over the pizza, then cut into slices.

To Make Two 12-Inch Round Pizzas:

Follow the recipe to make the dough and let rise. When the dough is ready, generously mist two 12-inch round pizza pans with cooking spray, then pour 1 tablespoon oil onto the center of each. Scrape half the dough onto the center of each pan. Continue with the recipe, allowing the dough to rest for 20 minutes before pushing it to the edges of the pans and adding half of the toppings to each pizza. Bake one at a time, reducing the baking time to 12 to 15 minutes.


Spaghetti With Parsley Pesto (Spaghetti al Pesto di Prezzemolo)Connie Miller/of CB Creatives

Spaghetti With Parsley Pesto (Spaghetti al Pesto di Prezzemolo)

Makes 4-6 servings

The recipe is an adaptation of one taught to us by chef Antonio Cioffi at La Vecchia Cantina in Ravello near the Amalfi Coast. Cioffi uses neither nuts nor Parmesan in his incredibly savory parsley pesto. Rather, its umami richness and full, complex flavor comes from colatura di alici, an Italian fermented anchovy condiment akin to Southeast Asian fish sauce. Instead of requiring a trip to an Italian specialty store, we found just a single oil-packed anchovy fillet, rinsed and patted dry, to be a good substitute. We also adopted Cioffi’s technique of quickly blanching the parsley before pureeing it; this step is key for creating a luxurious, silky-smooth pesto with an emerald green hue. Lemon zest and juice added at the very end bring citrusy sparkle to the dish.

If you wish to use a different pasta than spaghetti, twisty shapes such as fusilli and gemelli work nicely.

“Shocking” the parsley in ice water after briefly blanching it is essential: This immediately stops the cooking, keeping the color and flavor bright and fresh. Also, don’t worry about wringing every last drop of water out of the parsley before pureeing. A little moisture is fine and helps with easy blending.


Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley (about 4 ounces), trimmed of bottom 1 inch

1 small garlic clove, smashed and peeled

2½ teaspoons colatura di alici (see headnote) or 1 oil-packed anchovy fillet, rinsed and patted dry

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

1 pound spaghetti

4 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus 4 teaspoons lemon juice, plus more grated zest to serve

In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Fill a medium bowl with ice water and set it near the stove top. To the boiling water, add 1 tablespoon salt and the parsley; cook, stirring, until just wilted, about 15 seconds. Using a slotted spoon or mesh sieve, immediately scoop out the parsley and transfer it to the ice bath. Let stand, stirring once or twice, until fully chilled, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat under the pot to medium.

Remove the parsley from the ice bath and squeeze with your hands until mostly dry. Roughly chop the parsley, then add it to a blender along with the garlic, colatura de alici or anchovy, and the oil. Puree on high, scraping the blender jar as needed, until the mixture is smooth and thick, 1 to 2 minutes. If the parsley doesn’t fully break down, while the blender is running, drizzle in cold water 1 teaspoon at a time as needed until the pesto is smooth.

Return the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve about ¾ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the pesto and ½ cup of the reserved pasta water; cook over medium heat, vigorously tossing and stirring, until the pesto clings to the spaghetti, about 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and juice and toss in more reserved pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed so the spaghetti is well sauced. Remove from the heat, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with additional oil and sprinkled with additional lemon zest.

Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television shows. Globe readers get 12 weeks of complete digital access, plus two issues of Milk Street print magazine, for just $1. Go to Send comments to