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Pesto makes a great base for a pizza.
Pesto makes a great base for a pizza. (Photo:

Homemade pizza encourages experimentation

For the seventh straight year, October is Dining Month on, presented by the restaurants of Potawatomi. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2013."

Although we don't make pizzas at home as much as we once did, we're trying to get back into it, in part because the kids love to chip in and make their own. 

We use all kinds of options for crusts, depending on time and other factors. Making good pizza dough from scratch doesn't take long and isn't difficult, but you've got to plan ahead. When we've neglected to do that, we typically opt for Sciortino's pizza dough, which can also be found at Balistreri's Sendik's stores.

Lately, on the recommendation of a friend who makes awesome pizzas (nowadays almost exclusively on his grill), we've tried frozen bread dough with decent, if puffy and, well, bready results.

While we always make a couple traditional basic fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil pizzas, much of the fun is in trying different things. One of my kids once made a pizza with fresh cherries and mozzarella and that's since become a regular.

I'm partial to pesto, so my pizzas are usually based on that. Sometimes with sun dried tomatoes. Sometimes with pepperoni. Sometimes with olives. Sometimes with pine nuts. Sometimes with tomato slices. Sometimes with roasted red peppers. Sometimes with tinned anchovies. Sometimes with a combination of some of these and other ingredients. (The one thing I don't do is put tomato sauce and pesto on the same pizza; not a big fan of that.)

Last night for the first time, I decided to try adding one of my other favorites: hazelnuts.

The result was fabulous, with a nice little crunch and that unique nuttiness that comes from filberts perfectly complements the sweetness of the fresh mozzarella and the earthiness of the basil in the pesto. 

I've got my new go-to pizza: pesto hazelnut.

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