Kale Pesto, Pumpkin & Olive Pizza

November 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

kale pesto pumpkin olive pizza

I know what you are thinking. Lisa is going to start to look a bit orange if she doesn’t stop eating and posting quite so many pumpkin recipes.

I feel you, I totally do. But you see, this is a blog about home cooking, and the recipes I share with you are what I really make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And given that I am a bit of a nut about making good use of leftover ingredients, am a creature of habit and lover of routines, and grocery shopping can be overwhelming, I tend to put the same items in my cart over and over.

I apologize for not having any pictures of the process here. I threw this pizza together for Sam and me (his half was classic cheese) over the weekend and didn’t really expect to share it, but the flavor combination was just so good, I didn’t want to keep it from you.

half cheese half pumpkin pizza

Whenever I go out for pizza and see one with butternut squash on the menu, I have to go for it. I love the sweet and savory combination. Here I used pumpkin puree in place of a traditional tomato sauce, and topped it with a quick kale pesto, caramelized onions, mozzarella cheese and whole kalamata olives. Oh, and this pizza tastes even better cold, for breakfast the next day. Sam said it was the best pizza to come out of my kitchen yet!

I’ve made no-knead homemade pizza dough many times, but this was the first time I actually consulted the source, Jim Lahey’s my bread. I found his description of how to incorporate the dough incredibly helpful, and it came together better than any other versions I’ve tried. I’ve done my best to convey his advice below. It also helped that I did a meticulous test of all the yeast in my cupboard and tossed a few packs that were decidedly not active.

kale pesto pumpkin pizza toppings

If you want to improve your bread and pizza making skills, I highly suggest you get my bread out of the library or on Amazon/at your local bookstore. I got it from the library but am feeling very unhappy about having to return it, so I may add it to my cookbook collection. If you need further convincing, can I tempt you with apricot almond bread, which has almond butter swirled in the dough?! That is happening over Thanksgiving, no doubt about it.

Kale Pesto, Pumpkin & Olive Pizza

Pizza dough from Jim Lahey’s my bread

Note: This dough recipe makes enough for two pizzas. I like to freeze (of course) half the dough for a future pizza. All you have to do is spray the dough ball with some cooking spray and place in a freezer bag. To thaw, place the wrapped frozen dough overnight in the fridge, then bring to room temperature on the counter before stretching out the dough.

Pizza Dough:

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast (active dry or instant)
  • 3/4 teaspoon plus a pinch of sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups room temperature water
  • olive oil for the sheet pan

Kale Pesto:

  • 3 cups curly kale leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste

Remaining Toppings:

  • 1 large onion, sliced into rings
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4-1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • kalamata olives (without pits)

Make the pizza dough:

  1. Fill a liquid measuring cup with the room temperature water and add the yeast and sugar. Let sit. You will start to see a foam form at the top, this is how you know the yeast is alive and doing it’s thing.
  2. In a medium bowl mix the flours and salt.
  3. Add the water mixture to the dry ingredients and use your hands to really mix up the ingredients. This will take a few minutes, and the dough will be pretty stiff. Don’t shortcut this step or you’ll end up with clumps of flour in your dough after it rises.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit on your counter for 2 hours or so. The dough will double in size.

While the dough is rising, caramelize the onions and make the pesto:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion slices and stir to coat in the olive oil.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally. For me this took about 30 minutes.
  4. Add the kale, garlic, walnuts, and lemon juice and zest to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Blend the mixture, using a spatula to scrape down the sides halfway through.
  5. While the food processor or blender is running, drizzle in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. If it’s a bit dry for your taste, add one more tablespoon. Salt to taste.

Roll out the dough and top the pizza:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. (The original recipe says a 500 degree oven but I don’t trust my oven to safely do much of anything at this temperature. Use your discretion.)
  2. Oil a 13 x 18 inch rimmed baking sheet and use a rubber spatula to scrape half the dough onto the pan in one piece. You can freeze the other half (see note above) or make a second pizza on another oiled baking sheet.
  3. Now comes the tricky part–stretching out the dough. You will think there is no way you are going to get this dough to fit the length and width of the pan, but I promise you, it will happen. Lightly flour your hands and use your fingers to pull and stretch the dough. I had success by stretching it lengthwise for a bit, then widthwise, then back to lengthwise, and starting from the middle of the dough where I had the most extra dough to work with. Pinch any holes together. (There will definitely be some, not to worry.)
  4. Spread a thin layer of pumpkin across the top of the pizza, leaving the border un-sauced for the crust. Top with pesto and caramelized onions, then sprinkle with cheese. Dot pizza with kalamata olives.
  5. Bake on the middle rack of your oven for 20-30 minutes. I checked at the 20 minute mark and the cheese was already melty and the crust starting to brown so I took it out at about 25 minutes. You want the edges to be crispy before you pull it out.
  6. Let cool slightly, then slice up and serve!


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