I have suffered from a slight obsession with kale recently, especially the dark Tuscan and dino varieties. I'm eating it raw in salads, roasted until crispy for a snack, sautéed on the side to round out a meal. Yum. I plan on carrying my green addiction right on into the fall with this hearty harvest pizza.
Given the need to roast the squash and fry the bacon, this isn't exactly the kind of pizza you can throw together last-minute on a weeknight. This said, it's easy enough to make most of the components ahead of time, and then assemble and bake the pizza on another night.
You'll only need a small butternut squash for this recipe. A wee two-pounder is plenty for both pizzas, and you'll still sometimes have leftover squash. But since butternuts can be so time-consuming to prepare, I often roast a larger squash and then save or freeze the extra for other meals during the week.
I also definitely recommend making the effort to seek out smoked mozzarella for this recipe. The smokiness seems to tie together the sweetness of the squash and the heartiness of the kale ever so nicely. I especially love the smoked mozzarella sold at Trader Joe's.
With its crispy thin crust and generous layer of toppings, this pizza will be on my rotation all winter long.
Pizza with Crispy Kale, Butternut Squash, Bacon & Smoked Mozzarella
Makes 2 (10-inch) pizzas
small butternut squash (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
4 big leaves
Tuscan or dino kale (roughly 1/4 bunch or 2 1/2 ounces)
pizza dough, storebought or homemade
1 to 2 tablespoons
To prepare the butternut squash, heat the oven to 450°F. Peel and dice the squash into small 1/2-inch cubes. Toss the cubes with a drizzle of olive oil and salt. Spread on a baking sheet in a single layer so the cubes aren't too crowded (roast in two batches of necessary). Roast the cubes for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through, until soft. Set the cubes aside until needed.
Dice the bacon. Warm a skillet over medium-high heat and fry the bacon until cooked through, but not totally crispy. It will cook a little more in the oven. Set aside to drain on a paper towel.
Wash the kale. Spin it in a salad spinner or pat with a clean kitchen towel to get the kale as dry as you possibly can. Strip the leaves from the stems and tear into small 1/2-inch pieces. The stems can be saved for another purpose. Toss the kale with a little olive oil; if preparing the kale ahead of time, wait until just before assembling the pizza to toss with oil.
Slice the mozzarella into thin rounds.
Heat the oven to 500°F or as hot as it will go. If you have a baking stone, place this in the lower half of the oven while the oven warms.
To assemble and bake the pizzas, divide the dough into two halves and shape each into 10-inch rounds. Working one round at a time, brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Lay half the rounds of mozzarella on the pizza and arrange 1/2 cup of the roasted squash and half the bacon across the dough. Scatter half of the kale over top. (Note: You may have more squash than needed for this recipe; save the rest for another meal.)
Transfer the pizza to the oven. Bake for 7-10 minutes, until the kale is crispy and the crust is dark golden. Assemble and bake the second pizza as the first. Let the pizzas cool slightly before slicing and serving.
(Image: Emma Christensen)