#whiskonthefarm + RECIPE: Tomato, Fennel & Pesto Grilled Pizza

Last weekend was an absolute frenzy at the farm. We hosted 150 people over three very full days plus an astounding number of journalists and photographers fascinated by the story of Soil Sisters.

I’m not totally sure that I’ve recovered. Despite my rambling social butterfly ways, I’m really about 50% extrovert and 50% introvert, needing equal parts social activity and solitude to function. By the end of my third day of amazing conversations, I was completely out of words. The couch of our cozy living room never felt so nice.

One of the real highlights of the weekend was a food styling and photography workshop I co-taught with my Wisconsin Whisk friends Vicki and Sarah. We each got to talk about our styles of photography, which are distinctly different, and show folks how to play with their food while snapping gorgeous photos. It was a super hands on workshop complete with an array of grilled pizzas.


We went over composition, lighting, backgrounds, ingredient shots (something I’ve been loving and doing more of myself), action shots, final product shots and learning to have your own style in small groups defined by the kind of pizza we were preparing. It was fun to chat with new bloggers and aspiring bloggers about keeping things fun and not getting too serious. I’ve found that being creative and playing around is really the most important thing for a beautiful photo of food.

And then we ate. Because what food photography workshop would be complete without diving in to something delicious? My favorite pizza of the three pizzas we made (and the one I made again immediately) was one inspired by things we have in the field right now (and my never-ending tirade to get people to love fennel).


Tomato and fennel are a heavenly combination especially when thrown together with a generous amount of basil pesto. The fennel was sliced very thinly so as to not be too assertive a flavor and we used halved cherry tomatoes because they’re a little less messy then working with whole tomatoes. With slightly spicy pepperoni, the end result was heavenly.

Thanks to everyone who came out to my farm for Soil Sisters weekend and sipped cocktails, learned to make pesto, grilled pizza, took a billion photos of pizza, or enjoyed a farm tour! We loved having you and can’t wait to do it again.

Lots of August farm love for you all,

P.S. Do you love making pizza from scratch like I do? Check out my favorite local flours from Meadowlark Organics! Enter LEEKLARK20 at checkout for 20% off your order!


Grilled pizza works best when you are well prepared. You will want to prepare all your toppings in advance and have them right next to the grill (along with any utensils necessary- like a spoon for the pesto) so you can very quickly add them to the pizza dough once you flip it.

Makes 1 large or 2 smaller (more easily grilled) pizza
Takes 25 minutes + time to make dough (I almost always use this pizza dough recipe and whip it up a couple days in advance and stick it in the fridge)

1 batch favorite pizza dough (see above)
Olive oil
1 cup basil pesto (store-bought is fine or make your own with the recipe below)
1/2 fennel bulb, fronds and core removed, thinly sliced or shaved
3-4 ounces pepperoni
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup mozzarella

  1. If grilling, divide your risen dough in half for easier handling. If using the oven, preheat to 500 degrees and leave the dough whole. Roll out dough. If grilling your pizza, freeform is the best pizza shape. Mine are never round. If using the oven, roll it out to the size of a baking sheet (10″x15″).
  2. If grilling, follow steps 3 & 4. If baking, skip to step 5.
  3. FOR GRILLERS: Brush one side of pizza dough(s) generously with olive oil. Place on a preheated grill over medium heat and cook for 3 minutes until dough is baked on that side and you can see grill marks.
  4. Flip pizza(s) over and very quickly dress with pesto while its on the grill. Sprinkle with fennel, pepperoni, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella (in that order). Cook three minutes longer until dough is cooked and cheese is just beginning to brown. If your grill was a little too hot and the dough finishes cooking before the toppings had a chance to fully cook, just throw the pizzas on a cookie sheet and place them under the broiler of your oven for 3-5 minutes.
  5. FOR BAKERS: Transfer dough to cookie sheet. Top with pesto followed by fennel, pepperoni, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella. Bake for 10-15 minutes until both cheese and crust are golden brown.

Basil Pesto
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup toasted pine nuts or walnuts
3 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ cup parmesan cheese
½ cup olive oil

  1. In a food processor, combine garlic and nuts and pulse until whole mixture resembles minced garlic. Add basil and salt and pulse several times until all basil is chopped but the mixture still has unevenly-sized pieces.
  2. Add parmesan and pulse a few more times until mixture begins to look consistent in size and parmesan is well-incorporated (but mixture is in no way smooth). Scrape down the sides with a spatula if you need to.
  3. Remove  the basil mixture to a medium bowl. Drizzle in olive oil with one hand while folding it into the mixture with the other. Continue stirring until mixture has absorbed the oil and there is none pooling at the bottom.
  4. Pour into a mason jar. If not using all right away, pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top to help with browning and preserving. Store in the fridge.

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