Cast Iron Shrimp Pizza with Pecan Basil Pesto

By 8 m read

Cast Iron Pizza - Don’t judge a pizza by the look of its crust 🤣 (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Don’t judge a pizza by the look of its crust 🤣 (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Yes, sir! Let’s get out the trusty old Lodge pan and have some pizza fun. Let’s make a crazy delicious cast iron shrimp pizza with a pecan basil pesto. 

 

And that’s just a blueprint. When you go through the recipe and you see an ingredient you don’t like or don’t have or prefer not to use with your date tonight (garlic, anybody?): then don’t use it or substitute or add more. That sentence was a mouthful, I couldn’t help myself. 

 

That’s what cooking is all about. It’s personal, it’s creative, it’s flexible. For every rule, there’s an exception: in this case, the dough. A dough comes alive by mixing certain ingredients in a certain ratio. Otherwise, the gluten won’t start flexing their muscles because the yeast won’t be able to do its job (or something like that), but when it comes to toppings and seasonings, be creative. 

 

Tip: How do you keep your cast iron pan in tip-top non-stick shape for decades? Keep it seasoned. When you buy your cast iron pan, it’s either seasoned or not. If not, follow the recommendations from the manufacturer on how to season it.

 

Once your pan is seasoned, there’s nothing easier than keeping it seasoned. How? Keep using it. It’s that simple. After using your pan (ideally when still hot), use hot water and a dish brush to clean the pan and dry it with a paper towel. Pour some neutral cooking oil into the pan and gently rub it in with another paper towel. Make sure you get some oil along the rim, the outside, and the handle as well. That’s all.

Cast Iron Pizza - Dough ingredients (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Dough ingredients (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

How To Make The Dough

Of course, you can use a stand mixer but I prefer to use my hands.  There’s something about kneading some water and flour into a smooth ball. It’s satisfying. And if the power’s out, you’ll still be able to make dough and cook it in your cast iron pan over a fire. 

 

This recipe is for a 10-1/4” cast iron Lodge pan, so I’m only making a little batch. Someone told me the other day that you should add the salt after mixing the yeast into the flour because salt can kill the yeast. True? Someone else told me that you should add a little sugar because yeast likes to feast on sugar. True? I don’t know. I wasn’t aware that making a dough would turn my mixing bowl into an island in Hunger Games.

 

I decided to use a dough recipe that Viana came up with for her “you can’t stop eating it” pepperoni bread. She uses a stand mixer, but mixing by hand works just as well, it just takes a little longer. Here are her instructions using a stand mixer:

 

In a KitchenAid stand mixer bowl, using a spoon, stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for five minutes or until it becomes frothy. Then, add olive oil and stir again.

 

In a separate bowl, mix flour and salt. Using the dough hook attachment, turn your stand mixer on to a low-medium speed (about 3 or 4). Slowly add the flour mixture while the dough hook is turning. Mix until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about two minutes.

 

Form dough into a ball. Grease a large bowl with olive oil, place the dough ball in the bowl, and turn it over and over so that all sides of the dough are oiled. Cover with a towel and place in a warm spot for about one hour, until the dough has doubled in size.

Cast Iron Pizza - Pesto ingredients (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Pesto ingredients (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

My Favorite Pesto

There are a gazillion ways to make pesto. In general, you mix pine nuts, garlic, basil, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Taste to make sure the flavors are balanced and it has a good consistency. Not too runny, not too dry. 

Cast Iron Pizza - Perfect pesto batch (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Perfect pesto batch (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

I’m not a big fan of pine nuts but I had a bag of unshelled pecans at home. So pecans it is. If you have time, mix all ingredients in a mortar and pestle until the desired consistency is reached. If not, put all ingredients in a food processor and do the same, just faster.

Cast Iron Pizza - Toppings ingredients (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Toppings ingredients (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Let’s Get The Shrimp Ready

Depending on what kind of shrimp you use, defrost, peel, devein, and pat them dry. Butterfly the shrimp by using a knife and making a cut along the back, about halfway through the shrimp. Place the shrimp on the chopping board and press down lightly with your hand. Or don’t butterfly them. It’s a personal thing. Say what?

 

Place the shrimp in a bowl, add lemon juice, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, and mix. 

Cast Iron Pizza (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Now we have all the pieces in place. The dough, the pesto, the shrimp. 

 

How To Make A Cast Iron Pizza With Shrimp And Pesto

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

 

On the stovetop, over medium heat, heat butter in the cast iron pan until it bubbles. Add shrimp mixture and stir for about three minutes. The shrimp will turn and pink and curl up. Remove the cooked shrimp and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.

Cast Iron Pizza (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Place the empty pan in the hot oven for about 5 minutes. While the pan is heating up, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, to a size that’s just slightly larger than the pan. Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven and place the dough directly into it. Cut off any dough that’s overhanging the edges. You can add some semolina into the pan first if it’s not super non-stick, to prevent your dough from sticking. 

 

Pour pesto on top and spread evenly. Add shredded or sliced mozzarella and finish by adding the cooked shrimp on top.

 

By this time, it already looks and smells gorgeous. All the oven has to do is cook the dough and heat the toppings (and of course, melt the mozzarella).

 

Place the pan back in the oven (middle rack) and bake for about 10 minutes. Use your eyes and nose to decide when it’s done. 

 

Carefully remove the hot pan and slide the pizza onto a cutting board. 

 

Serve hot. It’s freaking delicious. Mic drop.

Cast Iron Pizza - Don’t judge a pizza by the look of its crust 🤣 (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Don’t judge a pizza by the look of its crust 🤣 (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

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Cast Iron Pizza - Don’t judge a pizza by the look of its crust 🤣 (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Cast Iron Shrimp Pizza with Pecan Basil Pesto

Yes, sir! Let’s get out the trusty old Lodge pan and have some pizza fun. Let’s make a crazy delicious cast iron shrimp pizza with a pecan basil pesto. 
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Additional time to allow dough to rise 1 hr
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

Pizza Dough

  • 1-1/4 c warm water
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-1/2 c flour
  • 1-1/4 tsp salt

Pesto

  • 2 c basil leaves
  • 1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 c pecan nuts (about 8 whole nuts)
  • 1/4 c (2 oz) Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp kosher sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp semolina (optional)

Toppings

  • 1/2 lb large shrimp (about 8)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 c (2 oz) mozzarella
  • 1/4 tsp kosher sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper

Instructions
 

Pizza Dough

  • **These dough instructions are for using a stand mixer, but mixing by hand works just as well, it just takes a little longer. 
  • In a KitchenAid stand mixer bowl, using a spoon, stir together warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for five minutes or until it becomes frothy. Then, add olive oil and stir again.
  • In a separate bowl, mix flour and salt. 
  • Using the dough hook attachment, turn your stand mixer on to a low-medium speed (about 3 or 4). Slowly add the flour mixture while the dough hook is turning. Mix until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about two minutes.
  • Form dough into a ball. 
  • Grease a large bowl with olive oil, place the dough ball in the bowl, and turn it over and over so that all sides of the dough are oiled. Cover with a towel and place in a warm spot for about one hour, until the dough has doubled in size.

Pesto

  • If you have time, mix all ingredients in a mortar and pestle until the desired consistency is reached. If not, put all ingredients in a food processor and do the same, just faster.

Prepare the shrimp

  • Depending on what kind of shrimp you use, defrost, peel, devein, and pat them dry. 
  • Butterfly the shrimp by using a knife and making a cut along the back, about halfway through the shrimp. Place the shrimp on the chopping board and press down lightly with your hand. Or don’t butterfly them. It’s a personal thing. Say what?
  • Place the shrimp in a bowl, add lemon juice, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, and mix. 

Putting it all together

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  • On the stovetop, over medium heat, heat butter in the cast iron Lodge pan until it bubbles.
  • Add shrimp mixture and stir for about three minutes. The shrimp will turn and pink and curl up.
  • Remove the cooked shrimp and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.
  • Place the empty pan in the hot oven for about 5 minutes. 
  • While the pan is heating up, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, to a size that’s just slightly larger than the pan.
  • Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven and place the dough directly into it. Cut off any dough that’s overhanging the edges. You can add some semolina into the pan first if it’s not super non-stick, to prevent your dough from sticking. 
  • Pour pesto on top and spread evenly.
  • Add shredded or sliced mozzarella and finish by adding the cooked shrimp on top.
  • Place the pan back in the oven (middle rack) and bake for about 10 minutes. Use your eyes and nose to decide when it’s done. 
  • Carefully remove the hot pan and slide the pizza onto a cutting board. Serve hot. 

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