Last spring, soon after our arrival back in Umbria for the season, we were visiting Todi, a beautiful small town just minutes from our farmhouse. I do not remember the exact reason for the visit, but it was probably for the regular monthly antique market, or perhaps the annual spring flower show.
After exploring the town, we decided to enjoy a pizza for lunch at Pizzeria Cavour where you can sit and enjoy your pizza outside on their patio while gazing at the glorious Umbrian countryside. The pizza menu is extensive, but they always have a few seasonal choices. I was intrigued when I saw a white pizza (no tomato sauce) topped with fav beans, so of course I ordered it.
The pizza was topped with a layer of mozzarella, then was spotted with a thick pesto made with fresh fava beans along with some delicious black olives. The pizza was completely different from any other pizza I had tasted, and although it didn’t hit you over the head with strong flavors, the subtle play of the fava beans and olives was delicious. Of course, like any food-obsessed cook, I had to make my own version of this pizza at home.
Friday night is usually pizza night at our house, and having a pizza oven both here in Umbria (shown left) as well as in the US, we really enjoy our pizza. For my version of fava bean pizza, I made a chunky pesto from the fava beans, along with some whole, barely cooked peeled beans.
I used my favorite olive, the taggiasca olive. I am addicted to these olives as they are full of flavor and small in size. Taggiasca olives grow in the province of Liguria, and I buy them in the jar, pitted, in olive oil. If you cannot find these olives locally, Kalamata olives will do just fine.
When we returned to Italy this year we were, unfortunately, a little late to enjoy seasonal spring vegetables. Luckily, our handyman had planted a few rows of fava beans for me over the winter, which were ready to pick upon our arrival.
I used a mix of mozzarella and Taleggio cheese. Taleggio is my all time favorite cheese so I use it whenever I can. It has a subtle tang, and strong aroma that I find addictive. The cheese has a thin rind and is creamy smooth inside similar to a French Brie cheese. If you cannot find Tallegio, you could use any flavorful, creamy cheese in its place like Robiola or even Brie.
I always make my pizza dough at least 24 hours, preferably 48 hours ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator which improves the flavor and helps it rise nicely in the oven. You can use store bought pizza dough if you prefer, or use my recipe for New & Improved Pizza Dough, Tipo “00” Dough, or my Whole Wheat Pizza Dough.
I kept my pizza vegetarian, but three to four ounces of chopped pancetta or guanciale, lightly sautéed would also be delicious on this pizza. I tried this pizza both with and without the addition of a handful of fresh, peppery arugula leaves on top. Quite honestly, I like it both ways, so use arugula (or not) depending on your own preference.
Fresh Fava Beans From My Garden
The Pesto Melts Into The Cheese
Pizza Topped With Fresh Arugula
- 1 Pound Pizza Dough (See Notes Above)
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 4 Ounces Guanciale or Pancetta, Diced
- Fava Bean Pesto (Recipe Below)
- 1 Cup Blanched, Peeled Fresh Fava Beans
- Cracked Black Pepper To Taste
- 1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
- 2 Cups Full Fat Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 1/2 Cups Diced Taleggio Cheese
- 1/2 Cup Pitted Halved Taggiashe or Kalamata Olives
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coarse Sea Salt
- 2 Cups Fresh Baby Arugula
Fava Bean Pesto:
- 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Fava Beans, Blanched & Peeled
- 2 Garlic Cloves Peeled
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- 1/3 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Divide the dough up into two 8 ounce portions, rolling each in a ball.
- Place two of the balls on a lightly oiled plate and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
- Remove the dough balls from the refrigerator 2 1/2 hours before needed, allowing them to completely come to room temperature before using.
- Preheat your oven to the highest setting (usually 500 degrees F.).
- To make the pesto, place the fav beans, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cheese in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
- Begin to drizzle in the oil, adding just enough to loosen the mixture, about 1/3 of a cup.
- For Each Pizza: On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to press your dough out to a 12 inch circle.
- Lightly cover a baking sheet (or pizza peel if using a pizza stone) with flour, and place the dough on top.
- Lightly brush the surface of the pizza with olive oil, then scatter the mozzarella and crumble the Taleggio over each pizza, leaving a 1 inch border all around.
- Use a spoon to drop blobs of the pesto randomly over the top of the pizza.
- Divide the olives and fresh fav beans and scatter over the top of each pizza.
- Sprinkle the top of each pizza with some sea salt, then bake each pizza until bubbly and golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- If using arugula, scatter on top after the pizza has been cooked, just before serving.