I look forward to pizza night any time of year, but especially in the winter. Homemade pizza is the ultimate comfort food: cheesy, warm, crispy, chewy, and crunchy. Once you master a great crust recipe, you can treat pizza as a vehicle to whatever food you're craving. In the mood for Thai? Spread your dough with a spicy peanut sauce and top it with crispy tofu. Feel like red meat? Go for a combination of thinly sliced steak, peppers, and cheese for a cheesesteak-inspired dinner. You could carb-load by piling on layers of shaved potatoes with rosemary, or you could have breakfast for dinner and crack an egg on top.
Lately, I've been wanting greens. Tons of leafy vegetables and lots of salad to lighten up the dark days. At the same time, when winter really settles in, I also like comforting, nourishing food to get me through these cold weeks. The perfect solution is pizza, heavy on the greens. Today's recipe doubles down on the vegetables, using kale in two ways.
Not only does this give you an extra dose of greens, but it's a good way to use up an entire bunch of kale rather than leaving you with some left over from a large bunch. First, you'll make a quick pesto with kale, garlic, lemon juice, Parmesan, pine nuts, and a bit of nutritional yeast. The nutritional yeast (one of my very favorite flavor boosters in the kitchen) adds a savory, cheesy flavor that amplifies the taste of the Parmesan.
You'll spread this on your dough. (The dough recipe I use here is a simple and excellent whole wheat crust, but you can easily ask your local pizzeria to sell you a ball of dough if you're not so inclined to make your own.) Then you'll add more kale, just torn up and tossed over the top of the dough along with fresh mozzarella and red pepper flakes.
If this isn't quite hearty enough for you, or if you have someone in your household who wants meat for dinner, you can add some bacon or sausage or shredded poached chicken. I prefer the simplicity of the pizza as is. It's the sort of comfort food I can really get behind: packed with good-for-you things like whole grains and nutritional yeast and leafy greens, but still...well...pizza.
For the dough
- 2 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cups warm water, divided
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
For the topping
- 4 cups kale, torn into pieces (1 large bunch of kale)
- 3/4 cup pine nuts (you can substitute almonds or walnuts)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 3 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
What weekday pizzas will you be whipping up this week? Share your inspiration with us below!