Attention kale lovers! I have a pizza for you. Everyone else, please shield your eyes and forgive me for the very green pizza on your screen. I’ve had this idea for a while now—kale pesto pizza with golden mozzarella and crispy kale on top—and it is finally reality. A very tasty reality, of which I am looking forward to eating again for lunch.
As any good vegetarian blogger should be, I am obsessed with pesto, and basil is awfully expensive this time of year. I say “this time of year” like it’s nothing, but it’s snowy, icy, below freezing and gray outside, and I’m currently wondering what I’m doing with my life/daydreaming about beach vacations.
As I was saying, kale pesto is a great, affordable option this time of year. I made mine with pecans and I love the subtle, sweet pecan flavor in every bite. You could also use walnuts in your pesto, or pepitas for a nut-free option. This vegan pesto would be fantastic on pasta if you need to warm up with a bowl of hot, steaming pasta. It’s cold outside!
- 1 batch easy whole wheat pizza dough or 1 pound store-bought pizza dough (I used Trader Joe's)
- 2 cups (8 ounces) grated low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup lightly packed kale, chopped into small, bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Optional garnishes: red pepper flakes
- 3 cups packed kale, preferably the Tuscan/lacinato variety, thick ribs removed and roughly chopped (about 1 small bunch)
- ¾ cup pecans or walnuts
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, depending on their size
- ¾ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup olive oil
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the upper third of the oven. If you’re using a baking stone or baking steel, place it in the oven on the top rack. If you're using my dough recipe, prepare dough through step 4. If you're using store-bought dough, check the instructions of the package. It might need to rest at room temperature while you work on the pesto.
- Make the pesto: In a food processor, add the kale, pecans, lemon juice, garlic, salt and several twists of freshly ground black pepper. Turn on the food processor and drizzle in the oil. Process until the pesto reaches your desired consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Taste and add more lemon, salt or pepper if necessary.
- Prepare the pizza dough as directed. If you're using my pizza dough recipe, I'd make two pizzas. If you're using store-bought dough like me, I'd roll it out into one large pizza. I like to roll out the dough on pieces of parchment paper for easy transfer to the oven. For best results, roll the dough out as thin as reasonably possible while maintaining an even surface level.
- Top pizza(s) with an even layer of pesto (you may end up with extra pesto, which would be great on pasta or as a sandwich spread, etc.). Sprinkle cheese over the top. Lastly, in a small bowl, toss 1 cup chopped kale with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Rub the oil into the kale so it's covered with a light, even layer. Distribute the kale evenly over the top of the pizza.
- Transfer one pizza to the oven, either on a baking sheet or onto your preheated baking stone. Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese on top is bubbly (about 10 to 12 minutes on a baking sheet, or as few as 5 minutes on a baking stone). Repeat with remaining pizza, if necessary. If desired, top pizza with a light sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Slice and serve.