Sunday, January 18, 2009

Kale on Pizza? "Yes, we can!"

Yes, yes, yes, it can be done! I'm not suggesting that (almost President!) Barak Obama does this, but I do and encourage you to do the same. Adding kale on top of pizza is barely noticeable taste-wise but adding some is worth it because the kale leaves are both beautiful and healthy.

I have used all my fresh home grown kale, but here is an easy way to use some of my own frozen kale.

Here is what I did last night for our homemade pizza. Is it time consuming? Not really. Virtually all ingredients were in the house ready to use, so no trip to the grocery store was needed.

Use a frozen pizza crust, whole-wheat pita bread, English muffins, or make your own crust like I do. There are recipes for homemade pizza crust everywhere on the internet, but I use one is made with half whole wheat flour from a favorite vegetarian cookbook of mine called Fix-It-Fast Vegetarian Cookbook: Tasty nutritious meals in minutes, by Heather Houck Reseck, RD.

Toppings for 2-14 inch pizzas:
• pesto (4 ice cubes worth, so that would be ~1/2 cup total or 1/4 cup for each pizza)
• kale - fresh chopped small or frozen pieces thawed (about 1 cup)
• red pepper pieces sliced (1 large pepper) - can use fresh however I used the organic roasted red peppers that I made and froze last fall
• pinto beans (1 cup, cooked, drained) or any other type of cooked dried bean for a healthy protein source
• carmelized onions and garlic (I used 3 large yellow onions and 8 cloves of garlic) - Eek! isn't this time-consuming? I sliced and carmelized the onions while the pizza dough was rising. Yes, I could have (should have) been dusting or something like that but carmelizing onions makes the house smell so good and is much more satisfying!
• cheese - about 2 ounces of freshly grated smoked gouda - Eek! Only 2 ounces for 2 pizzas?, plus isn't this cheese expensive or high in fat or somehow bad for you? True, I don't eat much cheese in general due to its high content of saturated fat, but when I do, I want it to really taste good so I can appreciate the flavor with just a little bit. Expensive? I have thrown away the wrapper that had the cost so I cannot make a true price comparison between what I used versus a typical package of pre-shredded mozzarella used by most people for their homemade pizza, but I will venture a guess that I didn't spend any more money by using less of a much more tasty cheese.
• Italian herbs - I heartily shook a jar of dried herbs (no added salt) over the entire pizza as the final ingredient

Spread out the pesto on your choice of crust.

Then top with the vegetables, adding cheese and herbs last.

We cooked the pizzas in our oven on a pizza stone at 450 degrees for ~12 minutes each, eating most of the second one cooked (i.e., the hot one!) and freezing the first one and the pieces left over from the second one. Now we have our own frozen pizza pieces ready to reheat for lunches, another quick supper, and yes, even breakfast.

If desired, serve with a salad or some fresh fruit to your meal. Not much else is needed since pizza such as this is a delicious, filling, and healthy all-in-one-meal containing whole grain, vegetable protein sources complemented by a small amount of animal protein, and multiple vegetables. I cannot count the number of health-promoting nutrients and phytochemicals in this meal that come with very little work, no more and likely less cost than pre-prepared pizza, plus without the typical over-dose of calories and salt in store-bought, restaurant, or delivery pizzas. However, no one needs to worry about the nutritional analysis of this homemade pizza that is both beautiful and delicious. Even this morning, my husband looked at the pieces I was wrapping to put in the freezer and remarked about how "festive" the pizza looked with the combination of green kale and red peppers.

I suppose the final question or comment might be "I'm willing to try this , but will my kids and husband or wife eat this?" or "I (or my kids or my spouse) won't eat this". Well, first of all of course, nothing ventured, nothing gained. :-) I never had kale to eat when growing up. In addition, my two boys are now young adults who both love experimenting with foods, but even when they were much younger, I rarely heard that "oh mom" complaint when served new, healthy foods. My advice is two-fold: it is never too early to start exposing yourself or your family to new foods and healthy ways of eating along with the encouraging thought that it is never too late to do so also. Yes, you can! :-)

Where kale is more than decoration on my plate,
Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Vivienne said...

Yes yes! I put kale on my pizza too. I use already-cooked leaves, no midribs. These came from my freezer, where I had blanched and frozen garden kale from last summer. (Put it into wide-mouthed quart canning jars.)

As with everything, moderation is the key. It shouldn't be of a quantity to overwhelm everything else. But it tastes good and makes you feel better about eating a luxurious dish like pizza. And yes, we freeze our extras too.

Anonymous said...

Obama may eat kale but he better stop smoking if he wants to preserve his health and set a good example.

Diana Dyer said...

No kidding!!! You said it all.

John said...

Thanks for this post! Tonight we're trying to make a Kale, Feta, and Garlic Pizza!

Anonymous said...

cool blog. kale pizza is tonights delish! Thanks!

elizabeth said...

My husband loves pizza so I make it a lot, but am searching for a better crust recipe. Could you share the recipe you use? Does it require a bread machine?

Also, do you sell garlic online?

Diana Dyer said...

I did give the name of the cookbook that has the pizza dough recipe I use. Since it is not my recipe, I cannot properly share it without seeking and receiving permission from the author.

Secondly, thanks for your vote of support by asking if we sell our garlic on-line. The short answer is no because we are committed to growing delicious food for our own 'food-shed', i.e., our local community.

Many farmers have become as distanced from who eats their food as eaters have from how their food is produced and who is doing it. We are closing that gap. :-)

I hope you will seek out great-tasting, organic and locally-grown garlic wherever you live and then say hi to those farmers from us, Dick's 'Pretty Good!' Garlic of The Dyer Family Organic Farm in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Diana Dyer