Welcome to Week 4 of our Seasonal Fruit/Veggie of the Week series! This week’s seasonal veggie of the week is quite popular, but still tends to cause a bit of confusion in the kitchen: Kale.
Kale is a vegetable in the cabbage family, originating from the Eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor where it has been cultivated, eaten and used for medicinal purposes for over 4000 years. In addition to being cooked in food, it was also used to treat bowel problems by the ancient Greeks. It was introduced to western Europe by the 1200-1300s. Like cabbage, kale is an extremely hearty vegetable that is easy to grow and can tolerate cooler climates. It first comes into season in June, but can continue to be harvested until the ground freezes in early winter. Because it is so hearty, kale has historically been consumed most during times of famine and food shortages.
Kale was first brought to Canada by Russian traders in the 1800s, but it only started to become more popular in Canada as an edible vegetable in the 1990s. Kale has since become extremely popular as a “super food” in North America because of its important nutrient content. 1 cup of chopped kale provides you with 134% of your body’s daily Vitamin C requirements and 133% of your Vitamin A requirements.
Kale Pesto Pizza
Makes: 1 large pizza
Time: 30 minutes
- 1 batch/1 lbs pizza dough
- 2 cups (8 ounces) grated mozzarella cheese (or vegan mozzarella to make vegan, ex. Daiya mozzarella style shreds)
- 1 cup lightly packed kale, chopped into small, bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Optional garnishes: red pepper flakes
Kale Pest (yields about 1.5 cups):
- 3 cups (about 1 small bunch) packed kale, thick ribs removed and roughly chopped
- ¾ cup pecans or walnuts
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 small lemon)
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, depending on their size
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the upper third of the oven. If you’re using a baking stone or baking steel, place it in the oven on the top rack. If you’re using store-bought dough, check the instructions of the package. It might need to rest at room temperature while you work on the pesto.
- Make the pesto: In a food processor, add the kale, pecans/walnuts, lemon juice, garlic, salt and several twists of freshly ground black pepper. Turn on the food processor and drizzle in the oil. Process until the pesto reaches your desired consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Taste and add more lemon juice, salt or pepper if necessary.
- Prepare the pizza dough as directed. If you’re using store-bought dough, I’d roll it out into one large pizza. I like to roll out the dough on pieces of parchment paper for easy transfer to the oven. For best results, roll the dough out as thin as reasonably possible while maintaining an even surface level.
- Top pizza with an even layer of pesto (you may end up with extra pesto, which would be great on pasta or as a sandwich spread, etc.). Sprinkle cheese over the top. Lastly, in a small bowl, toss 1 cup chopped kale with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Rub the oil into the kale so it’s covered with a light, even layer. Distribute the kale evenly over the top of the pizza.
- Transfer pizza to the oven, either on a baking sheet or onto your preheated baking stone. Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese on top is bubbly (about 10 to 12 minutes on a baking sheet, or as few as 5 minutes on a baking stone). If desired, top pizza with a light sprinkle of red pepper flakes. Slice and serve.