The first weeks of a seasonal summer CSA farm share are like the Spanish Inquisition: no one ever expects it, and by it I mean all the greens. You sign up for a summer share and you're thinking tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, zucchini. Those crops are all heat-loving summer crops. What is ripe in August is not what is ripe in June. In June, because what is ready was started weeks/months before in the cool spring, you get greens. Arugula, beet greens, cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, salad greens, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, and kale, kale, kale. (See the Visual Recipe Index for ideas!)
It took me a while to embrace the greens, I admit. Oh, not the salad mix, or spinach, those are pretty easy to love. And Swiss chard is home and mother to me as I grew up eating it from our backyard garden. My trouble with spring greens is this: while I like cooked greens, by May/June I'm craving light, fresh fare, not long-simmered flavorful "pots of greens" goodness.
Yes, I could put the greens up to enjoy in winter soups. But it's not even summer yet, and I'll be getting more greens at the end of the CSA season as the weather turns to fall. I needed to find ways to enjoy my spring greens NOW.
My current obsession is sautéed beet greens and spring onions seasoned with sherry vinegar and topped with a sunny side up egg. On rainy days, and we've had a few, we're enjoying a Finnish summer soup with kale. In the meantime, however, it's time for a Friday Night Pizza Night and this time, I bring you a basic kale pizza dough. (Does my use of the term basic mean that in the future there will be another type of kale pizza dough? Why yes, yes it does. Clever reader, you.)
In a quixotic move, I use both an old school steamer and a bread machine to make this dough. I use the steamer because I wanted to be sure that my weights for this recipe were unaffected by how well I drained the cooked kale. (I also got the steamer from my mom a few months ago, used it for gyoza/mandoo and realized it's a pretty useful thing to have around.) If you don't have a steamer, use a microwave or a lidded pot with a small amount of water to cook your kale.
I like to use a bread machine to mix my pizza doughs that contain green leafy vegetables because I can focus better on the dough. My teenaged son tells me that humans aren't physically capable of multi-tasking . . . I'll just say that deciding how much to knead the dough while simultaneously deciding how much water to add to the dough is a difficult task for me. I find it easier just to let the dough cycle worry about the kneading part and I'll worry about the extra water part.
Why don't I know exactly how much water to add? This kale is not from factory farms with standardized growing conditions. It's been a cool, wet spring here in Ohio, and the water content of the blue curly kale from my CSA is probably different than the water content of your Red Russian or Lacinato kale grown in a drier climate. All will work in this dough, though. To help, I've provided both the weight and volume measurements for my raw and steamed kale, as well as photos of the whole process.
|Clockwise from upper left--the basic kale pizza dough process.|
Basic Kale Pizza Dough (makes enough for 2 medium pizza crusts)
(please refer to My Pizza Primer for a whole host of tips, techniques, and collages about making pizza in your own kitchen, and know that I start my dough up to 3 days before I want to bake it)
2 3/4 ounces / 65 grams / 4 cups packed torn raw kale (stems to the composting pigs or worm bin)
12 3/4 ounces / 360 grams / 3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning blend
3/8 teaspoon dried minced garlic (or 1-2 cloves fresh, smashed and chopped)
10-16 Tablespoons water (see directions below)
Place several inches of water into the base of a steamer pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add kale to steamer basket, and steam 12-15 minutes until leaves are just tender. Remove from heat.
Save the steaming water!
My 4 packed cups of raw kale decreased to 1 generous tightly-packed cup (2 cups very loosely packed), weighing 3 1/4 ounces or about 90 grams at this point (yes, it got smaller and heavier).
In a bread machine bucket, place kale, flour, yeast, salt, seasonings and oil. Add 8-10 Tablespoons of the steaming water (what with all the weighing and measuring and photos the water had a chance to cool down from boiling to merely warm when I added it). Start the dough cycle, and let the machine knead for about 3 minutes before checking. If/when the dough looks dry still, add a Tablespoon of leftover steaming water at a time, giving a minute or so between additions, until the dough forms a ball in the pan. Then walk away and let it finish kneading without hovering. You're not going to do any additional good. Store in an oiled container in the refrigerator for a few days, or pop in the freezer (label it for my sake please).
I made a 2 pizzas with this batch of dough: a simple cheese pizza and a spicy buffalo sausage pizza.
Four Cheese Pizza, and Spicy Buffalo Sausage Pizza, on Basic Kale Pizza Crust
1 recipe Basic Kale Pizza dough (above)
1 cup your favorite red pizza sauce, divided
2 - 3 cups shredded Italian blend pizza cheese, divided
1 buffalo style fully cooked sausage (2 1/3 ounces or 66 grams) sliced thinly
On the day you wish to bake a pizza, about 2 hours before you're ready to bake,
have your child remove the chilled dough to the counter so it can come to room temperature and the yeast can wake up and do its thang. About 30 minutes to an hour before you're ready to bake, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. If you've got a pizza stone, now is the time to put it in the oven to preheat. Or just leave it in there. If you don't have a stone, get one at a thrift store while you're getting a bread machine use a cookie sheet or other rimless pan. Divide dough into two equal portions. On an oiled piece of parchment paper, stretch out each dough into the shape that pleases you.
Spread 1/2 cup sauce over each dough, coming close to the edge--but don't go over! Scatter half the cheese on each dough. Top one pizza with buffalo-style sausage slices for the more adventurous eater of the household.
Slide the pizza-on-parchment onto your baking stone or cookie sheet. Bake 5-8 minutes, then shimmy the parchment out from under the crust, allowing the crust to bake directly on the stone or sheet. After another 3-5 minutes, when the cheese is browned and bubbly, remove the pizza to a cooling rack and slide the second pizza in. Repeat the baking/shimmying/baking/cooling process. Slice and serve.
Enjoy mastering the bag of kale this week.
This post is shared with the From The Farm Blog Hop, the Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Tasty Tuesdays, Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up and What's Cookin' Wednesday, and What's In The Box--the traveling edition.
And if you're curious what else I've done with pizza and kale, I'll show ya.