I love making pizza dough, and it's not nearly as hard as you think. But lately I've been using store-bought dough, and to be honest, it's pretty hard to beat. In fact, this pizza is so good (and green! Look at all that kale!) that I haven't ordered a pie in two months. And I live in New York, people.
Store-bought dough qualifies this pizza as a six-ingredient recipe, although you'd only need eight to make your own dough from scratch. So never let that deter you; pizza is easier than you think.
That said, I'm obsessed with Whole Foods pizza dough right now. I was making the New York Times dough recipe (I used it for my Spinach, White Bean, and Taleggio Pizza — another green one!), but I picked up a bag of fresh dough at the store a couple of months ago, and I'm not sure I'm ever going back.
So, the pizza. I love something green on my pizza, but I'm not a big fan of broccoli, and I also don't like weighty toppings. The idea of a big mound of kale chips on top of the pizza — salty, crispy, virtuous — sounded perfect. And the Italian tomatoes are key; they add a lot of flavor, which is especially important because you're not adding a ton of them. This isn't a super-saucy pizza.
I tried this pizza twice, with the uncooked kale piled on with the other toppings and again with the kale cooked separately. The first time, the kale got crispy, but it also released a lot of moisture that pooled in the middle of the pizza. It's better to make the kale chips first, then scatter them onto the pizza once it's cooked.
If it didn't have the potential to raise confusion, I'd be all for calling this recipe Kale Chip Pizza. Because that's essentially what this is. A pizza topped with quick-cooked kale chips. And it's amazing. Beyond amazing. And for the life of me, I can't believe I haven't thought to try this sooner. I'm no stranger to topping my pizza with greens; I've just never thought to crisp them until now.
I almost used shredded mozzarella instead of fresh since I had it on hand, but I'm glad I didn't. While it's certainly a fine substitute, fresh mozzarella really has the power to take a pizza to the next level.
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning
5 large curly kale leaves (or a small bunch of lacinato kale)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 ball pizza dough, at room temperature, store-bought or homemade
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into thin slices
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Pour the diced tomatoes into a mesh strainer and let them sit, squishing and stirring with a spoon a few times, until they are quite dry.
Strip the kale leaves from their stems, rip into 1-inch pieces. Wash and spin dry in a salad spinner or pat very thoroughly with a kitchen towel. In a large bowl, toss them with enough olive oil to lightly coat the leaves (you don't want them to be dripping, just slick). Spread onto a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until crispy.
Raise the oven temperature to 500°F.
While the oven is preheating, cook and crumble the sausage in a pan over medium heat until no longer pink. Set aside. Take the dough out of its packaging (you'll need a dash of flour to keep it from sticking to your hands) and slowly press or roll it into a circle. I like to drape the dough over the backs of my hands and stretch it from the middle out. You can also pat it out on a cutting board or baking sheet. Either way, you'll need to stop every once in a while and let the dough sit for a second, so it gets used to its new shape.
Place the dough on a pizza stone or baking sheet and scatter the tomatoes, then sausage, then mozzarella slices over it. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the crust is brown and the cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven, pile on the crispy kale, then slice.
This recipe has been updated — first published April 2011.