Greens & Grain Pizza: hail kale!

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Healthy pizza.

Is that an oxymoronic phrase, or what?

I mean, c’mon. When you think pizza, you probably think pepperoni. A lava-flow of melting cheese. Maybe some mushrooms or black olives for variety.

But healthy, as in whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and lower-fat protein? That sounds more like a health-food salad.

Good-for-you salad, meet guilty-pleasure pizza!

I’m in love with pizza. Have been for decades, ever since my mom used to whip up cheese pizza from a box on Friday nights during Lent.

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Maybe you remember Appian Way pizza – the box included crust  mix (just add water!), a can of tomato sauce, and a small packet of grated cheese.

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At one point they must have had a special offer going at the supermarket – buy the mix, get the pan! – because I still have Mom’s Appian Way pizza pan, a battered, blackened veteran of many a homemade pizza.

Beginning with those simplest of Friday night pizzas, I’ve progressed through Sicilian-style thick crust, NY-style cracker crust, and crusts involving semolina, Italian-style flour, and whole wheat.

Toppings have run the gamut from a simple Margherita to “load on the pepperoni and mozzarella,” with stops at Buffalo/barbecued chicken, Hawaiian, roasted potato and Asiago, steak and cheese… whatever you could possibly imagine throwing onto a crust, I’ve probably done it.

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Including kale.

Yes, kale. Everyone’s healthy darling, the king of leafy greens. Kale – which for many of us, I’m sure, earns the assessment, “I really want to like it, but…”

Kale can be prickly – literally. Fresh kale’s mouth-feel is somewhere between cellophane and nettles.

Cooked kale, on the other hand, is somewhat akin to cooked spinach: not slimy, exactly, but…

Sautéed kale falls somewhere in between – a bit prickly, a bit soft, and not particularly compelling.

The best thing to do with kale? Massage it. That’s right, just like the spa, kale loves being massaged with an aromatic oil – olive oil, to be exact. Or garlic oil, my preference.

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On the left, fresh kale. On the right, kale that’s had a drizzle of olive oil rubbed into it.

See how it shrinks in size? The oil basically calms kale down, wilting and softening it a bit while still allowing it to retain some crispness.

Handling kale this way makes it an extremely enjoyable, good-for-you salad green. Use oil-rubbed kale as a bed for your fresh tomatoes, sliced cukes, crumbled feta, sunflower seeds, and [name your favorite salad veggies].

Or take your salad fixings, combine them with your favorite pizza crust, and voilà – salad on bread. Or pizza topped with garden goodness.

Remember what I said at the beginning of this post, about the link between pizza and whole grains, leafy green vegetables, and lower-fat protein?

This is it: Greens & Grain Pizza.

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Place the following in the mixing bowl of your stand mixer; a large bowl; or the bucket of your bread machine, set on the dough cycle:

1 3/4 cups (7 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Pizza Dough Flavor
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup + 2 tablespoons to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water*

*Use the lesser amount of water in the summer, or in a humid environment; the greater amount in winter, or when it’s dry.

So, what about that Pizza Dough Flavor – can you leave it out if you don’t have it? Well, it definitely gives delicious “pizza parlor punch” to any crust. It’s not integral to the structure of the crust, and can thus be omitted; but it absolutely adds wonderful flavor.

Beat the dough ingredients at high speed of your electric mixer, using the beater blade, for 2 minutes. Scrape the dough to the bottom of the bowl, switch to the dough hook, and knead for 7 minutes at medium speed. The dough will be smooth and very soft, and may not clear the sides of the bowl.

If kneading by hand, mix the ingredients, then let the dough rest, covered, for about 30 minutes; this will give the flours a chance to absorb the water, which will make kneading easier.

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Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes; then refrigerate it for 4 hours (or up to 36 hours); this step will develop the crust’s flavor.

It’ll continue to rise in the fridge (above right, after its overnight rise); so make sure it’s in a big enough bowl.

Divide the dough in half.

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Working with one piece of dough at a time, pick it up and let gravity gently stretch it into a circle, moving your hands around the perimeter of the dough as it stretches. For thinner-crust pizza, make a 12″ round. For a thicker crust, make a 10″ round. Lay the crusts on lightly greased 12″ pizza pans (or a couple of baking sheets).

You’ll probably have a hard time stretching the dough to size without letting it rest a bit. As you stretch, it’ll seem to “fight back;” this is the gluten doing its thing. Just like a rubber band that’s stretched – it wants to snap back.

The solution? Adding a couple of tablespoons of Easy-roll dough improver to the dough, along with the rest of the ingredients, definitely helps. But time steps in nicely, when you don’t have dough improver.

Check out the photos above. Rather than pound on the dough to try to stretch it to size (and have it immediately shrink back anyway), I simply shaped it in four stages, waiting about 10 minutes between each (nice down-time for cruising Instagram). Yeast dough is VERY easy to stretch once you’ve given it a chance to relax.

Cover the dough, and let it rest while you preheat your oven to 450°F.

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When the crust has risen as much as you like (I gave the crust pictured above about an hour), place the pan on the middle rack of your oven; if you’re using two pans, place them on the lower and middle racks.

Bake the crusts for 8  to 10 minutes. Rotate them in the oven (top to bottom, bottom to top) midway through their bake.

Remove the crusts from the oven; they should look set but not brown on top; and should be light to medium brown underneath.

Once the crusts are prepared to this point, you can wrap them up and keep them at room temperature for a couple of days before using; or freeze, for longer storage. I often make this recipe, use one crust immediately, and save the other; it’s great to have a baked crust “up your sleeve” for a quick meal.

Now, since the topping for this pizza is going to be a main-course type salad, I figure I’ll stir together a salad dressing-type sauce while the crusts bake.

This is strictly optional; you can choose to omit the sauce, and simply top your crust with a dressed salad. But I think this warm, ranch-style sauce baked right onto the pizza adds nice flavor, without the somewhat oily flavor you’d get by simply slathering dressing atop the crust.

Note: The following recipe makes enough sauce for a single crust; simply double it for two crusts.

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Stir together 2 tablespoons mayonnaise and 3 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour in a small saucepan.

Set the pan over medium heat, and gradually stir in 1 cup milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Some lumps will probably appear anyway; that’s OK, just keep stirring and they’ll eventually disappear.

When the sauce begins to thicken, add 2 tablespoons (about 3/4 of a 1-ounce package) dry ranch-style dressing mix.

Stir to combine, and continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce is as thick as heavy cream. Remove it from the heat.

Reduce the oven heat to 425°F.

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Spread the sauce onto the baked crust, and return it to the oven. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the sauce is hot and barely beginning to brown. Remove the crust from the oven.

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Top the hot crust with your favorite “main course” salad ingredients. I’m using oiled kale, roast chicken, diced cooked bacon, and Sungold cherry tomatoes – fresh from the garden.

If the salad ingredients are very cold, return the pizza to the oven for 30 seconds or so, just to warm the topping briefly.

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Remove from the oven. I’ve added a sprinkle of shredded Asiago cheese; hey, you HAVE to have cheese on pizza, right?

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Cut slices; a pair of regular scissors works very well here.

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Serve warm. A fork is helpful.

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Nice, light crust – you’d never know it’s part whole wheat, would you?

Now,since you probably bought a lot more kale than you used on the pizza – what next?

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Kale shake! Put kale in a blender, and add fruit. I’m using frozen mango chunks here, but any kind of fruit is fine. If you use frozen fruit, you’ll get a very thick smoothie. If unfrozen, it’ll be less so; more the consistency of heavy cream.

You’ll notice I’m not giving any amounts here; whatever size your blender is, just fill it up with whatever combination of kale and fruit you want.

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I usually add a packet (per blenderful) of vitamin C supplement – because it adds flavor and sweetness and hey, it can’t hurt. Plus, if you’re OK with dairy, a small carton of yogurt is a nice addition.

Note: I’m not a dietitian, nutritionist, or medically trained; your doctor can tell you if vitamin C is appropriate for you.

Blend until everything is puréed and smooth – thus, “smoothie.”

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So OK, it’s GREEN; that’s the kale. But honestly, with the fruit and yogurt, it’s really yummy. I down one of these before breakfast most days, then give myself a figurative pat on the back for starting my day the healthy way.

All hail kale!

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Greens and Grain Pizza.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Carolyn

    Appian Way Pizza!! You really launched me on a trip down memory lane. It must have been in the early 60’s that we started using that. I made the dough, hubby did all the knife work and shredding. Every Sunday night for years and years. I progressed from the Appian Way dough mix to home-made (with KAF flour) and eventually made the tomato sauce in a big kettle, put it up in half-pint jars processed in a water bath. The tomatoes, peppers and onions came from the garden. Some of the sauce was put through a food mill and the rest was left in its chunky form. Best sauce ever. There were Italian herbs in the sauce but I always added more when I opened a jar to use it. But I don’t remember ever seeing an offer for an Appian Way pan.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      I love hearing about your progression as a cook, Carolyn; we all had to start somewhere, didn’t we, and Appian Way wasn’t a bad place to do so. Your sauce sounds wonderful… Thanks for sharing. PJH

  2. waikikirie

    Hey PJ, I’m always willing to try new a pizza & or pizza crust. Don’t know that I have to courage to try the kale “smoothie” . If you say it’s good, that’s usually good enough for me to try….but maybe not in the case of the smoothie :)…..xoxoxoxo

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Aw c’mon, waikikirie, be brave! They do LOOK a bit daunting, but kale shakes can actually be delicious, if you use enough fruit. :) PJH

  3. Trisha

    Mmm, I love kale smoothies, PJ. I have been using recipes from simplegreensmoothies.com with great success. My oven sets off the smoke alarm at 450 and above, so I have given up trying to make my own pizza crust.

    Reply
  4. Clora Teel

    In the use of vitamin c high doses can give false reading for those with diabetic issues. A bit of sparkling water and some fruit with the kale would be a nice lift.

    Reply

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