a greener year + white pizza with kale
I’ve never been especially good about New Year’s resolutions. It’s not that I’m opposed to self-improvement, it’s that I have trouble equating newness with the barren bleakness of January. I tend to make my resolutions at the beginning of the school year, when the world seems as new as a freshly sharpened pencil or a class roster filled with unfamiliar names. The arbitrary New Year in January, then, is merely an excuse to drink champagne.
However, in the weeks preceding the advent of this particular new year, I’d given a lot of thought to leafy greens. I frequently resolve to eat more greens, often going so far as to purchase lovely, crisp bunches of them and then watch them wither away in my refrigerator for lack of inspiration. But then I met Alice Waters. Well, I didn’t so much meet her as I read a biography of her, which prompted me to buy a few of her cookbooks and experiment with a bunch of her recipes, as a result of which I really started to get this whole leafy greens thing.
And so, weeks before I learned that green is so 2008, I’d mentally committed to a greener 2009. I resolved not only to incorporate greens into more of our meals but to ensure that those greens were locally grown — a double whammy of greenness (what with the green food and the green food choices). I had to enlist Chris to my cause, of course, which I did with the help of (what else?) pizza. Then I carefully planned a week’s worth of meals around local leafy greens and headed for the co-op, where I discovered that the folks whose greenhouse was supposed to supply us with produce throughout the winter had decided to go to Arizona instead.
So I can’t really do much in the way of leafy greens. I can, however, tell you about the pizza I made back in that fleeting moment when local greens were available and I’d finally figured out what to do with them. The crust, which is a Smitten Kitchen recipe, is delightfully thin and crispy — the perfect platform for a savory combination of tart creamy goat cheese and pungent kale that I found hard to resist. But more importantly, this pizza is nearly covered in a substance that is obviously green and most likely a vegetable, and Chris gobbled up his share in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, punctuating mouthfuls with exclamations of praise and tossing out the occasional f-word for emphasis. That usually indicates a keeper.
White Pizza with Kale
for the crust
Pizza dough, like any bread, is tricky. I’ve tried a number of recipes and had the best luck with the one featured at the end of this post. The recipe calls for 1½ cups of flour; I usually use ½ c. of all purpose flour, ½ of whole wheat flour, and ½ c. of bread flour. I like the nuttiness the wheat flour lends to the crust, plus white foods make me feel guitly.
for the topping
4 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale (about 12 oz.)
1 T. water
6-8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into ¼” slices
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
¼ c. parmesan, grated
1) Preheat oven to 500°F or as hot as it will go without being set to broil. Roll out pizza dough, sprinkle baking sheet or pizza stone with cornmeal and transfer dough to prepared pan. Mix 2 T. olive oil with 1 clove minced garlic and set aside.
2) To strip the kale from the white ribs fold the leaf in half lengthwise, grip the stem end in one hand, and run your other hand down the length of the leaf. Chop the leaves into small pieces and discard the stems. Heat the remaining 2 T. olive oil and remaining minced garlic clove in a large sauté pan over medium heat until fragrant (less than a minute). Add the chopped kale and water; toss to combine. Cover and steam for about two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the greens to a paper-towel-lined plate and let rest.
3) Brush the garlic oil mixture over the pizza dough. Top with mozzarella, then scatter the kale over the cheese. Crumble goat cheese over the kale, then top with grated parmesan.
4) Bake in preheated oven 8-12 minutes, or until crust is crisp and cheese is bubbly. Cut into wedges or strips (or what have you) and serve.