kale pesto pizza with fresh asparagus + heirloom tomatoes


We've been having some serious luck with our latest pizza stone. And though I might have totally jinxed it by just saying that, it's true: we've been tip-toeing around it's ├╝ber-sensitive feelings in hopes that it will keep delivering that pizzeria-worthy crust that we know and love so well. (Without unexplainably shattering, both literally as well as our hopes and dreams for pizza.)

Well, couldn't you just go get pizza, then, you may ask? We could, and we do, but as great as inhaling a fresh-as-hell East Coast pizza can be, there's something to be said for creating your own version of awesome in the form of kale-almond pesto and fresh Jersey vegetables.

That, and we didn't have enough tomatoes to make a traditional sauce. Happy accidents, what a world.

For this recipe you will need:

Jamie Oliver's pizza dough recipe. (As Jamie would say, it's dead simple, and it freezes beautifully for the next time you want pizza in a pinch. You can even halve his recipe and still have enough dough for two personal pizzas or one larger pizza. Or as Jamie pronounces, "peetzer.")
1 1/2 cups of curly kale, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roasted almonds (8-10 minutes in a 400 degree oven should do the trick)
1 large clove of garlic
5 sun dried tomatoes
Olive oil
1/2 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
5-6 stalks fresh asparagus, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

After preparing Jamie's dough recipe as per his instructions (you'll need to do this about 45 minutes to an hour before you want to make your pizza to give the dough proper time to rise), you can set about making your kale pesto. Super similar to the version I made with the dino kale, this one just adds some sun dried tomatoes for a little extra flavor. In a food processor, pulse your kale until finely chopped but not liquified, about 30-45 seconds. Add your almonds, garlic and sun dried tomatoes and continue to pulse until this additions are chopped but still visible among the greenness of your kale.

Scoop into a medium sized bowl and drizzle with olive oil, about 3 tablespoons. Fold together until it resembles a thick sauce or the texture of a traditional pesto. Add more olive oil if it seems a bit dry and set aside.

When your dough is just about done rising, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. I know, CRAZY, and yes, your oven does have a five-hundred-degrees on its dial, though chances are you've never had to use it for anything else so far. What's awesome about these baking stones is that they absorb that heat and then amplify it even further, giving your pizza (or anything else you may bake on it), that super authentic crispness that you expect and love from pizzas and bakery breads.

Roll out your dough on a well floured surface then transfer your ready dough onto your pizza peel. (It's best to sprinkle your peel with a bit of cornmeal in order to make the transfer easier; insider trick, a bit of dry quinoa will also work.)

Spread a generous amount of pesto on your ready dough, but work quickly: the super elastic dough is perfect for pizza but quickly absorbs any sauce making it sticky and harder to work with/transfer into the oven. Top with your chopped vegetables (and any others you may have handy and choose to use) and quickly transfer to your oven/stone in one swift, professional movement. Or, you know, frantically as you attempt to not lose your dough to unworkable stickiness and/or burn the shit out your hands on the hotass oven.

And now we wait. Not long, thankfully, since said hotass oven will take care of cooking time in about 8-10 minutes. Try to resist the urge to check it too often, as opening the oven door and taking a peek results in losing that precious heat that is making this whole magical process possible (and could also be the reason our other two sensitive stones cracked in half. Who knows).

After 10 minutes, peer in quickly to see if the crust has started to brown around the edges. If so, great. Open the oven further and give the edge of the crust a quick tap. Does it feel firm? Does it bounce back? If so, remove from the oven because this pizza is DONE. If it still feels a little soft or doesn't bounce back right away, keep waiting in 1-minute intervals or until the desired consistency is achieved.

I don't know what to tell you but this pizza was GOOD. So far from traditional but still somehow really authentic tasting. It's gotta be that crust. Jamie always seems to know the way.