Cast iron is king as far as cooking appliances go. You can toss it in the oven. Pop it over a campfire. Let it do its thing on the stovetop. It sears steaks to perfection, yields bubbling cobblers, and caramelizes vegetables with ease. You know what else you can add to that list? It makes a killer pizza. I’m hooked on this shrimp-pesto number from Lodge Cast Iron. But first, a little more about their latest offering of skillets.
I recently got my hands on the Blacklock Skillet. Available in 7, 10.25, 12, and 14.5″, these skillets sport a lighter-than-usual construction, thanks to slightly thinner walls. The assist handle also allows for greater ease of use and control (no more wrist-breaking, one-handed schleps). The Blacklock line is triple seasoned to be naturally nonstick, which I put to the test with an ambitious baking project: tarte Tatin.
To make the French pastry, you caramelize apples in sugar and butter, top ’em with puff pastry, then bake in the oven. As you’d imagine, the bottom gets sticky and tacky from the caramel, some bits hardening like the sugar coating on a candy apple. But to my surprise—a little coercion from a spatula and a strong flip—the tarte Tatin released from its cozy, steel nest with relative ease. (I used the 12″ skillet.)
Next I turned my attention to savory recipes. Paella and jambalaya can be a bit of a production, but pizza—that’s as fun to make as it is to eat. I swapped the usual red sauce and pepperoni for basil pesto and plump shrimp. It’s lighter and brighter for the summer season, not to mention begging to be made again and again. Here’s how to cook one yourself from the comfort of home—no brick oven required. (Use the 14.5″ skillet—or make smaller pies with the 12″.)
Recipe and photos courtesy of Lodge Cast Iron
How to Make Cast Iron Shrimp Pesto Pizza
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- For the Dough:
- 3 cups bread flour, divided
- 1 packet (¼ ounces) active dry rapid-rise yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons honey
- 1 ¼ cups lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Basil for garnish
- Red pepper flakes for garnish
- For the Pesto:
- ½ cup toasted pine nuts
- ¾ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 cups fresh basil leaves
- ⅓ – ⅔ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- For the Toppings:
- Flour for dusting
- Semolina or cornmeal for dusting
- 1 pound large shrimp tails, removed, peeled, and deveined (16 count)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
How to make it
For the Pesto (makes enough for two pizzas): Pulse pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic, salt, and basil in a food processor until combined. Slowly add olive oil until pesto becomes smooth.
For the Dough (makes enough for two pizzas): In a large mixing bowl, mix ½ cup flour with yeast and salt. Dissolve honey in lukewarm water and add to mixture. Add olive oil. In the bowl of a mixer, or using a wooden spoon, mix for 3 minutes. Mix in remaining flour (dough should be only slightly sticky.)
Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth, approximately 5 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 10 minutes in a warm place. Punch dough down and divide in half. Allow to rise for 10 additional minutes.
For the Toppings: Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat 14.5 inch skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add butter, garlic, and lemon zest, cook 1 minute. Add shrimp and cook 1 minute per side. Remove from pan and set aside.
For the Pizza: Wipe skillet clean with a paper towel, then dust with semolina or cornmeal. Roll or toss dough into a 13-inch circle on a floured surface, a cornmeal lined pizza peal, or a cutting board. Slide onto skillet. Spread pesto on pizza dough, leaving room for the crust. Sprinkle with a thin layer of cheese. Top with shrimp and roasted garlic. Sprinkle with more cheese. Brush crust with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper, if desired.