If you live for kale and pesto, you should be picking up this recipe right now. This perfect blend of basil, kale and pecan nuts offers a fresh flavor. The best way to enjoy this dish is to top it off with some crispy kale for the extra crunch. Alternatively, if you prefer a nut-free recipe, you can replace the nuts with pumpkin seeds instead. Since it is so easy to prepare, the recipe works perfectly as a weekday meal. As a bonus, you can mix the leftover pesto sauce with pasta for another comforting meal. Try out the recipe below for your healthy dose of kale goodness.
1 batch of easy whole wheat pizza dough or 1 pound store-bought pizza dough (I used Trader Joe’s)
2 cups (8 ounces) of grated low-moisture part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup of lightly packed kale, chopped into small, bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon of olive oil
Optional garnishes: red pepper flakes
(yields about 1½ cups, which will probably leave you with extra)
3 cups of packed kale, preferably the Tuscan/lacinato variety, thick ribs removed and roughly chopped (about 1 small bunch)
¾ cup of pecans or walnuts
2 tablespoons of lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)
2 to 3 cloves of 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.