Ecstasy. Pure ecstasy.
This recipe turned out even better than I had imagined. You know, when you take that first bite and you’re not even done chewing before you have to let out a muffled “Woah…” This roasted vegetable french bread pizza with pesto and ricotta made me do that.
The pesto sinks into the bread and creates an almost garlic bread type base, the ricotta gets warm and creamy, and roasted vegetables are, well, they’re just heavenly (one of my favorite things on the planet, actually)! I’m going to be making this one over and over and over.
The cost of this recipe got a little out of hand, but there are several ways you can rein it in. First, if you can find a farmers market, CSA, or some other cheap source of vegetables, that will help a lot. Produce prices at my local grocery store were a bit (okay, more like a lot) on the steep side. This might be a good recipe to stash until the peak of summer when produce is abundant and cheap. You can make your own pesto (use this parsley pesto recipe) and that should help. Also, you could make this on some homemade focaccia instead of French Bread, which would cut a big chunk from the price (although the crispy exterior and fluffy interior of French bread is pretty magical). And lastly, this pizza was actually quite filling, so you might get more like 8 servings out of it.
Oh boy, I can’t wait until I get hungry again so that I can have more…
- 1 medium red onion $1.25
- 1 medium eggplant $1.71
- 1 medium zucchini $1.31
- 1 medium yellow squash $0.91
- 1 medium green bell pepper $0.89
- 4 cloves garlic $0.32
- 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
- to taste salt & pepper $0.05
- 1 tsp dried basil $0.05
- 1 large loaf soft French bread* $1.69
- ¼ cup pesto $0.81
- 1 cup ricotta cheese $1.40
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella $1.00
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets by lining with foil and coating lightly with non-stick spray. Chop all of the vegetables into one inch pieces and peel the garlic. Place all of the chopped vegetables into a large bowl or onto one of the baking sheets. Drizzle with olive oil, add the basil, and sprinkle lightly with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Toss the vegetables with your hands until they are well coated in oil and seasoning.
- Divide the seasoned vegetables between the two baking sheets. Spread them out so that they are in a single layer and not piled on top of one another. Roast the vegetables in the oven for 45 minutes, or until they are shriveled and the edges are lightly browned. Stir the vegetables and rotate the baking sheets after the first 30 minutes of roasting.
- While the vegetables are roasting, cut the French bread bread open like a hoagie roll. Spread 2 tablespoons of pesto over each open half (spread thinly) followed by ½ cup of ricotta on each half. The ricotta and pesto will mix slightly as you spread them on, that is okay.
- After the vegetables are finished roasting, give them a taste and season with a bit more salt if needed. Transfer the bread back onto one of the baking sheets used for roasting the vegetables. Pile the roasted vegetables onto the bread and then sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese on top.
- Pop the pizzas back into the oven (keep it set to 400 degrees after roasting the vegetables) and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bread is crispy. Divide the pizzas into 6 or 8 equal sections and enjoy!
Step By Step Photos
Start preheating your oven to 400 degrees because it will probably be ready by the time you’re done chopping your veggies. I used an eggplant, red onion, a few cloves of garlic, zucchini, and yellow squash. Mushrooms would also be awesome, but they were pretty expensive, so I skipped them.
Cut the vegetables into one inch pieces. Either put them all in a big bowl or just put them on a baking sheet and add the olive oil, some salt and pepper, and the dried basil. Toss them with your hands until they’re evenly coated with oil and seasoning. The oil won’t fully cover all of them because the eggplant tends to soak it up like a sponge, but that’s okay.
Once they’re seasoned, divide the veggies between two baking sheets so that they’re not piled on top of eachother. If the vegetables are over crowded on a baking sheet, the moisture will get trapped and they’ll just steam in their own juices rather than roast. I like to lightly coat the foil with non-stick spray since I don’t use a lot of olive oil to coat the vegetables. Roast the vegetables in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes. Stir the vegetables and rotate the pans 30 minutes in.
I actually only made half a loaf because I’m using the other half for another recipe. Open the French bread up so that the two open sides are exposed. You can either leave the length of the French bread intact while you top it and cut it after baking, or cut it into sections now for easier handling.
Now comes the good stuff… Store bought pesto can be expensive, but this little jar (8 oz.) was the least expensive one at $3.25. You can usually find pesto by the pasta sauce, Mediterranean ingredients like artichoke hearts and olives, or sometimes in the produce section.
Spread the pesto on first, so that the oil soaks down into the bread. You don’t need a lot of pesto because it’s SUPER flavorful. I only used 1 tablespoon for each of these pieces, which were half of the total length of the bread.
Next, spread on the ricotta. I used 1/4 cup for each of these pieces (again, half of the total length of the loaf), so you’ll want 1 cup for the whole loaf. The ricotta and pesto will mix a little as you spread it on, but that’s really delicious, so no worries.
Now your roasted vegetables are done. They should be shriveled and a little browned on the edges. Give them a taste and add a little more salt if you want.
Put the French bread back onto one of the baking sheets you used to roast the vegetables and then pile the roasted vegetables on top.
Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top. Again, you don’t need a lot because you already have the ricotta underneath. I only used a half cup for this half loaf of bread (both pieces). Put the pizza back into the oven (keep it turned onto 400 degrees after roasting the vegetables) and bake it for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bread is crispy on the edges.
And then O-M-G. …I almost died from deliciousness overload.