Pizza with Sage Pesto, Kale and a Fried Egg!

I’m back!

I’d like to start this post by giving thanks: for finishing my master’s degree, for the absolutely slammin weather that is gracing DC right now, and most of all, for the fact that I have people in my life that understand that it is not only appropriate, but entirely welcome to bring a trash bag full of kale to my apartment as a gift (lookin at you, here, mom). In this season of greens, I have been embarking on all sorts of different versions of the “greens challenge,” (How much mesclun greens can I eat in one week?? A devastating amount, it turns out). But a kale challenge is a welcome one, being that kale occupies such a vaunted seat in my culinary house.

So, kale, lots of time on my hands, some sage pesto chilling in the fridge, enthusiasm for yeast doughs… Kale Pizza with Sage Pesto and a Fried Egg! No other conclusion was possible. Eaten on my balcony with a good friend, some gin-lemonades, and a stormy weather pattern passing over the afternoon. Feels good to be back.

Pizza with Sage Pesto, Kale, and Fried Eggs

For the pizza dough:
(recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, huge go-to in my kitchen)

1 teaspoon yeast
3 cups all purpose flour, plus a little extra for kneading, etc
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 to 1 1/4 cups of room temperature water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing the rising dish

Note: Bittman recommends the food processor, but I like using my stand mixer for dough. You could also do this by hand, sans machines.

Add yeast to a small dish with a pinch of sugar and 2 tablespoons room temp water to proof, set aside.

Add half the flour to the bowl of your stand mixer, along with the salt, yeast mixture, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 cup of water. Blend with the paddle attachment on low speed. Switch to the dough hook, and with the machine on low speed, add the remaining flour a little at a time, until the mixture is a sticky ball that pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.

Dump the contents onto a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand for a minute or so to form a smooth, round ball. Grease a bowl with olive oil, and place the dough in it. Cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm spot to rise, about 2 hours, or until the dough ball roughly doubles in size. At this point, you can proceed with a pizza recipe, or wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to one month.

For the sage pesto:
The name for pesto comes from the Italian pestare, meaning to pound or crush, from which pestle (as in mortar and pestle) is also derived. So it is literally just a paste… of whatever you want. Hence this recipe for sage pesto isn’t big on exact quantities because there is a lot of flex in making a pesto. You could lose the cheese, if you so desired, or add more, or add a different kind of nut, such as pine nuts. Adding more oil will make a looser more sauce-like pesto; adding less will make a firmer more paste-like one.

3 handfuls of fresh sage leaves
1 handful of fresh basil leaves
1 handful of walnuts
2 cloves of garlic
Zest and juice of one lemon
Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Add the sage, basil, walnuts, and garlic to the food processor and whir until everything is finely chopped. Add the zest and juice of the lemon, parmesan (start with a 1/4 cup or so), and some salt and pepper (less salt if you are using more cheese). Put the top back on the food processor, turn it on, and drizzle the oil through the pour spout. The pesto will start to come together in clumps around the whirring blade. Taste for flavor balance, and add more salt if needed. Store in the refrigerator for a week or so.

For the kale pizza:

1 pizza dough recipe (see above)
Sage pesto (see above)
1 bunch of kale, trimmed of stems and roughly chopped
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 eggs
Fresh basil, for garnish

Starting by kneading your pizza dough lightly into a ball, and place on a lightly floured surface to rest for about 20 minutes.

While the dough is resting, preheat your oven to the highest temperature it will go (500F+ is great). Fill a medium pot with water and bring to a high simmer. Blanch the kale in the simmering water for about a minute, or until it turns bright green. Remove from the pot with a mesh strainer, and immediately run cold water over it to stop it from continuing to cook. Strain as much water out of the kale as you can, and then place the kale in the center of a dishcloth, bring the corners together, and wring the remaining water from the kale. Set this aside.

Roll or press your dough ball into a flat round on top of an upside down oiled baking sheet (or prepare the dough for a pizza stone, if you have one). You may have to let it rest a few times before it will roll out nicely for you. Roll to desired thickness.

Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil onto your rolled dough, and spread the sage pesto out on the dough surface, to within about 1 to 1-1/2 inches of the edge. Scatter the kale over the pesto, as well as a healthy pinch of salt and a half dozen grinds of pepper. Place the slices of mozzarella around the pizza.

Place the pizza (on top of the upside down baking sheet) into your preheated oven. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven. Crack each egg into a small dish and slide each one on to the surface of the pizza. Place pizza back in the over to bake for another 5 minutes, until the cheese is starting to brown and bubble, the crust is golden and blistering, and the eggs are barely set. Finish the pizza with some more salt and pepper, fresh basil, and allow it to cool on the counter for about 5 minutes before serving.

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